Column: Some more than ACCeptable rivals
Who knows what will have happened by the time this column is published?
For more than a year now, it seems that the reports have changed almost daily: UConn is leaving the Big East, UConn is staying, the Big East will remain a respectable athletic conference, the Big East will sputter out and die a terrible, embarrassing death.
Now, with Maryland gone from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the conference hysteria is back in full swing. Syracuse and Pittsburgh were the most recent to get out of the Big East and into the ACC, and now it looks like the Huskies may be getting their invite to the party (or it may be Louisville, but again, who knows?).
As The Hartford Courant's Kevin Duffy so aptly put it in his Sunday column, "There's an empty seat at the cool kids' table. Now, one lucky soul - maybe UConn or Louisville - gets a shot at the good life."
Indeed, a good life it would be. But while the rest of the world swirls around the thousands of rumors that, I can only pray, will be over and done with by the time anyone reads this column, I will simply focus on the awesome potential of the situation for UConn, namely in the rivalry department.
Boston College - In 2003, Boston College left the Big East for the ACC, much to the anger of the remaining Big East members.
UConn, along with West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh (all fellow Big East brethren at the time), filed a joint lawsuit against the likes of the ACC as well as BC and Miami, the conference's two newest members.
Boston College would eventually get out, leading to Jim Calhoun's declaration that he would not play Boston College during his tenure again.
So what would come of BC-UConn conference rivalry? Maybe not too much in football, considering both teams are struggling, but definitely in men's basketball and in an overall sense. This gets denied a lot, but it's hard to completely deny the impact of a New England rivalry (that doesn't involve Providence) with such bad blood.
Duke/North Carolina - UConn men's basketball is among the ranks of Duke and North Carolina (as well as Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky, and Indiana) as the only teams in Division I with more than two national championships under their belts. If we thought having Syracuse on our schedule every year was big, just wait for College Gameday when the Blue Devils or Tar Heels come to town.
Florida State - Having a consistent BCS presence on UConn's football schedule would be huge for the progress of the team.
Georgia Tech - UConn's 2004 National Championship game opponent would now be a conference opponent. It wouldn't be a big rivalry, but it is some pretty cool history.
Miami - The whole 2003 lawsuit could make things a little cold when the Huskies head down to Miami for conference play.
Pittsburgh - The two schools have been the most consistently dominant in Big East play over the past decade. No matter who has been ranked what or where the game was held, it is hard to remember too many contests that did not involve that physical, grinding facet that has become a rivalry staple.
It would be a shame to see this rivalry, in action since the early 1980s, end after it just started to really build up.
Syracuse - Arguably our biggest rival across the board, no Husky fan wants this conference rivalry to end with the biggest meeting of all time involving a UConn loss.
From a fan's standpoint, the Huskies and the Orange are just perfect for each other. Both are consistent powers on the men's basketball circuit, they rank almost identically academically and there are simply very few other schools that either university's fan base can say they truly hate.
Even more so than Pittsburgh, it would be a shame to see this rivalry go.
If the world ends and UConn is tragically left out (once again) of the expanded ACC, the remaining important Big East rivals would be St. John's and Georgetown. Both are strong organizations and fellow charter Big East members, but with the remaining crew of random teams slowly taking over the conference, it is a strong possibility that the non-rivalries could start to overshadow the strong ones.
But regardless, all we can do for now is sit in limbo and maybe just focus on the potential, and dream of the rivalries and storylines an ACC membership could entail.
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