Sports Commentary 3/31/14 – Nothing To Be Mad About This March
NOTHING TO BE MAD ABOUT THIS MARCH
A century and a quarter of Storrs Agricultural College/Connecticut Agricultural College/University of Connecticut athletics later you can put down the month of March, 2014 as the most important month in the history of UCONN athletics. That doesn’t overstate the situation and don’t underestimate the importance of what the university’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have accomplished, and the timing.
This is the summer the five power conferences that are going to dictate the direction of college athletics in the future are likely to fill their footprints for that future. Three of those leagues, the ACC, Big Ten and the SEC have a half dozen berths available among them and UCONN would be a geographic fit for any of the three under their current structure.
The ACC would be the best fit geographically, with a membership that would allow for North and South divisional alignments that would allow UCONN to renew a number of old big east rivalries, with Syracuse, Boston College and Pittsburgh among the teams with whom they could be divisionally aligned, with Miami, West Virginia and Virginia Tech also in the league. With Maryland leaving, even if the ACC does hold a spot for Notre Dame in football, they’d have room for UCONN. The ACC did have some concerns about the academic history of UCONN men’s basketball when the Huskies originally applied for membership, only to lose the spot to another old Big Easter, Louisville, but, under Kevin Ollie, the Huskies are about to post a 1000 GPA score that also makes them even more attractive to the Big Ten, with UCONN’s overall academic and research qualifications making them AAU eligible.
The Big Ten originally pursued Syracuse for it’s proximity to the New York metro market. When Syracuse opted for the ACC the Big Ten added Rutgers, for the same reason. What the UCONN men’s basketball team showed the nation, not just the Big Ten, over the weekend was what a New York metro media entre is all about, fans that fill the Garden, New York newspapers going wild with “Huskymania” and a contract with Sportschannel New York that already pumps UCONN blue into the veins of New York sports fans.
The SEC went into the men’s tournament as, save for Florida, one of the most under respected basketball conferences in the nation. UCONN has shown the SEC a powerful force from the north who’s presence in their conference from a geographic standpoint would be no less viable than their presence in the ACC.
Football is still the sport that drives the bus into the future and, while the success hasn’t been there on the field the last two years, UCONN has a better infrastructure for football at a big time level than many other BCS programs. What UCONN basketball has done this month is put some icing on the cake, given every league in the nation a look at what their future can be like with UCONN as part of it.
A year ago UCONN went begging for a berth to get out of a league that has proven to be one of the biggest dead ends in college athletics, their pleas falling on deaf ears as other AAC teams around them found new homes. Times have changed considerably. Now it’s the ACC, Big Ten and SEC who have to beat each other to the first move or come up empty. UCONN owes it all to this month of March.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.