UConn Basketball

with Kevin Duffy

Initial Reaction: Louisville to ACC

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Well, can’t say we didn’t see this coming.

News broke late Tuesday night that Louisville was one vote shy of gaining an ACC invite. Early Wednesday morning, it became official: Louisville will become the newest ACC member in 2014 while UConn — the last original Big East member with an FBS football team — remains stuck in a league that can only be described as “deteriorating.”

My initial thoughts:

Warde Manuel and Susan Herbst (AP)

*Death sentence for the UConn? Not quite. It’s like the Huskies’ parole was just about to be up, and then the board turned them down, sending them back to the Big House for the foreseeable future.

Does this mean UConn will NEVER escape the hell-hole that is the Big East? Not at all. I’d be very, very surprised if Louisville to the ACC was the absolute last maneuver in conference realignment. So there may be other opportunities down the road.

As long as UConn is stuck in the Big East, football suffers far worse than basketball because football is still in the “building” stages of its program. And it’s going to be awfully difficult to build a program around an uninspiring head coach and a schedule that consists of Houston, Central Florida, Tulane and East Carolina.

With basketball, though, there’s still reason to believe UConn can maintain its elite status. As UConn President Susan Herbst said Wednesday, “We are a great athletics program across the board, so we’ll always be in national tournaments and will always, eventually, play the best teams in the nation.” If the Huskies can routinely make noise in the NCAA tournament (minus this year, of course), the winning tradition, the influence of Kevin Ollie and the new facilities can compensate for a watered-down league schedule.

Football is the real issue here. I’m not sure UConn can ever take a major step forward in this new-look Big East.

Categories: General

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3 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    UConn mens basketball would seem to be most at risk presently re maintaining an elite program. Certainly as others have stated, Kevin Ollie’s lack of a long-term contract is a major obstacle to potential recruits. But even more problematic is the direction of the Big East conference. It has to be extremely hard to get a top-tier recruit to come to UConn when the league’s basketball product is getting watered down and there is some legitimate doubt as to the viability of the conference itself. Hopefully the new commssioner will be able to negotiate a respectable TV deal quickly to help alleviate this concern.

  2. Big Least says:

    “the influence of Kevin Ollie and the new facilities can compensate for a watered-down league schedule”

    –regrettably, Warde Manuel has not pulled the trigger on an extension for Ollie and therefore he is operating as a “Lame Duck” as head coach. His influence is virtually completely compromised due to his status. Recruiting has been, and will continue to be, negatively impacted by Ollie’s contract situation.

    “awfully difficult to build a program around an uninspiring head coach”

    –absolutely true. Yet the AD continues to “stand behind” his head coach–despite Pasqualoni’s shortcomings. I was no fan of this hire when it happened as I was of the mind that if UCONN wanted to step-up into the world of big time college football then they needed to make a significant hire. They obviously did not, and are feeling the effects of this now.

    The ACC’s only choice was Louisville. Their football and basketball programs, at this time, are both more relevant than UCONN’s. I would imagine that the next program poached from the Big East is going to be Cincy, as both of their programs are more solid than UCONN’s right now.

    If they had made a big hire for football perhaps this choice would have gone a different direction. Right now there is no guarantee that UCONN basketball will be what it was under Calhoun. If Manuel does not address both these area’s soon, then UCONN as a major athletic program will be history. I realize that the woman’s program is still the standard bearer, but this show’s how little women’s college sports matter in the grand scheme.

  3. Rob says:

    It’s hard to believe that the non football members of the Big East are letting this conference get watered down in basketball for the sake of a meaningless football conference. I would think they would vote to drop football and just be a small good basketball conference like they used to be.