Column: UConn, I'm sorry
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 11:11
It was a cruel, crafted chunk of irony.
At around 7 a.m. yesterday, the sun both slowly rose over snow-touched Storrs and speedily set on any dreams UConn had to ditch the dying Big East. The ACC welcomed Louisville as its 14th full-time member with a wake-up call that simultaneously served as a knockout punch to Husky hope. The ACC got together that chilly morning and decided that UConn was to be left out in the cold.
At this stage there’s not much left to say about the root cause of arguably the worst day in this school’s sports history. The decision of the school presidents was made. The deal is done. It’s over for the foreseeable future and likely beyond.
So, I’ll say something you won’t hear a lot in the coming days: I’m sorry. For everyone involved and to everyone following the multi-year dance, tease and now two-time rejection, I’m sorry. Why?
I’m sorry that I truly don’t have a good reason for what’s happened.
I’m sorry that when I graduate this spring most of you will remain and receive marketing efforts to get you to spend money on games against lesser Tulane, Houston, SMU, UCF, East Carolina and Memphis.
I’m sorry that the additions of those schools are really a disguise for the tapping into the TV markets of New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Charlotte and Memphis.
I’m sorry for the folks that remember the old Big East; the group universally known as strong, fierce, bonded and competitive. And now this jumbled mess will have to go by the same name.
I’m sorry any semblance of a rivalry UConn had in recent years is gone.
I’m sorry this isn’t about the student-athletes anymore, no matter how much school presidents and the NCAA want to champion the phrase.
I’m sorry this top-20 public university, top 30 market and remarkably consistent and successful athletic program couldn’t cut it.
I’m sorry that one of the bigger reasons the ACC took Louisville is because of the strength of their major sports and facilities: the Cardinals men’s basketball team that can’t boast the same amount of titles or Final Four appearances as UConn in the last fifteen years, the women’s basketball program that’s lost to Husky hoops by an average of 28 points per game since 2009 and the Cardinal baseball club that watched conference foe Connecticut advance to a Super Regional not even two years ago.
Oh, and football? I’m sorry that UConn was passed over for a team it’s actually beaten four times in the last six years, during which time UConn has had a comparatively better overall record by the margin of 43-32 to 38-34.
I’m sorry that the one time conference realignment wasn’t about money or TV markets, UConn had the bigger bills.
I’m sorry that the ACC, one of the most prideful academic conferences in the country uncharacteristically took a school that U.S. News ranked outside 160.
I’m sorry to the student-athletes who now have to take extra time to needlessly travel to Texas to compete regularly in field hockey, volleyball, baseball, softball and other sports.
I’m sorry the athletics here are going to take a significant hit, which will spill over into academics because the money to fund their advancement won’t be as easy to come by anymore.
I’m sorry that Big East commissioner Mike Oresco is using Tulane's undefeated football season from 1998 as a reason they're a positive conference addition. By that logic, UConn should get into any conference they want because men’s basketball is winning its first national championship in thrilling fashion next year!
I’m sorry for anyone who has to listen to conference or school bureaucrats go on about how things are swell for the Big East or UConn athletics.
I’m sorry UConn’s next chance to join into another conference will ultimately start with a domino falling in either the SEC, Big 12 or Big 10 that will make them want to pluck another team from the ACC.
I’m sorry that the opportunity to gain national prominence, rankings and respect is made much harder for Huskies everywhere who now must compete amongst minor leaguers.
I’m sorry the pathetic Big East carries on.
I’m sorry for the good people here that deserve better.
I’m sorry for the worst day in UConn sports history.
It will soon be time to move on. No one knows how long we’ll push forward mired in this mess. By my estimation, it’s probably going to be quite some time before things get better. But I don’t really know much, except that as of this moment, the sun has set for good. And I have no clue when it will rise above the Atlantic coast again.
For that, UConn, I’m sorry.