UConn has returned to the Big East – and that is potentially big news because none of the schools in the Big East play Division 1-A college football. [Villanova and Georgetown field football teams but they compete at lower levels than Division 1-A.] This is a small “reversal of trend”; colleges have made conference change decisions in the past completely based on advantage for the football program; UConn has chosen to take things on another vector heading.
When UConn left the Big East to stay with its football program in the American Athletic Conference in 2013, it made a “football-focused choice”. The so-called Catholic 7 left the AAC and re-created the Big East as a basketball-focused conference; UConn took the football route. In its 6 seasons in the AAC football conference, UConn’s cumulative record is 18-54. I think it is fair to say that the “football option” did not work out all that well for UConn athletically.
Another former Big East school made a football-focused choice when leaving the Big East and – like UConn it has not worked out all that well on the football field. I am referring to Rutgers who was offered a slot in the Big Ten and jumped at the chance to be part of that financial juggernaut. The on-field results for Rutgers has been equally dismal as compared to UConn. Rutgers has been in the Big Ten for 5 seasons and its cumulative record there is 16-42.
It is not clear what UConn will do with its football program; it could try to make it as an independent; it could try to drop down to Division 1-AA; it could drop football altogether (not likely in my mind). It is also not clear what the AAC is going to do now. UConn’s “defection” leaves the AAC with 11 schools and according to a report I read, the loss of a school from the conference triggers a clause in the AAC deal with ESPN that allows ESPN to renegotiate the terms. I have a sense that there is more to come regarding UConn’s decision to return to the Big East. Consider:
- Is there a conference out there that would want UConn as a “football-only member”? I cannot think of one; the conference with the fewest teams is the Sun Belt Conference and they have been shedding low-grade football schools not adding them.
While UConn was rejoining the Big East – and in so doing paying homage to geography – another school and conference made an announcement that makes little if any geographical sense at all.
- Arkansas-Little Rock has joined the PAC-12 as an “affiliate member” for wrestling.
There must be a reason for this action; no one woke up on a Tuesday morning and realized that PAC-12 wrestling had been missing the boat on this participation for the last 50 years. Here is the deal:
- Most PAC-12 schools – the ones who play PAC-12 football and basketball – do not have wrestling teams. Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford are the only ones that do.
- The NCAA has a rule – no surprise there – that a conference must have six teams in it in order to qualify automatically for the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
- Until 2017, Boise St. Cal-Bakersfield and Cal Poly-SLO were the “affiliate members” that filled out the PAC-12 Wrestling Conference. Then Boise St. dropped wrestling and the PAC-12 needed another “affiliate member”.
The UConn story involves the two biggest intercollegiate sports – football and men’s basketball. As that story unfolded, there was another one that involved the newest of the intercollegiate sports – esports. The University of North Texas will offer esports scholarships to current and future students at UNT. The scholarships will be worth $20K each and will require the recipients to put in 15-25 hours a week on the various esports games for competition. In addition, the students will be required to maintain a 3.2 GPA to retain their scholarship. Here is a link to the report providing more details on this new scholarship opportunity.
Finally, Brad Rock had this depressing comment in the Deseret News a while back:
“A recent study says men think more about sports than physical intimacy.
“Kinda makes you wonder how lonely it is being a Miami Marlins fan.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………