UConn isn’t backing down on high-profile football


STORRS, Connecticut – It’s an easy time to pick University of Connecticut football. The Huskies are 0-7, coach Randy Edsall was jettisoned in early September and was beaten, 27-13, by struggling neighbor University of Massachusetts on Saturday.

But any notion that UConn has taken to playing football, focusing on football, or researching football to bring down a division is heavily contested. This includes a chorus of leaders ranging from athletic director David Benedict and head of the school’s board of directors to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. They all consider high performance football to be an integral part of UConn being a first class public school.

“I’m into it,” Lamont told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview. “Look, we have a national university. People identify universities with academics, the beauty of the campus, and the high quality of the sports you offer on a national platform. People pay attention. They know our basketball from afar. Football is the national sport in many ways. We have to compete.

UConn hasn’t won a soccer match since October 2019 (Greg Thompson / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Officials at the highest levels of state and school strongly reject any idea that UConn is withdrawing from sport at the FBS level. They point to a first-class football facility that school officials say cost $ 57.9 million to build and the school’s tradition of winning in other sports.

“It would be foolish of us to decide that the level of engagement is not important to us,” Dan Toscano, chairman of the school board, said of FBS football. “We have invested a lot in the program. The price is there. The reward is there.

Those awards haven’t been so apparent in recent seasons for UConn football, which has an 11-game losing streak, the second longest in the country. UConn also has no conference affiliation after the school withdrew from the American Athletic Conference in order to host its basketball and other sports programs in the more geographically sensitive Big East. . After jumping last season due to the pandemic, this is UConn’s first football season as an independent.

Benedict knows engagement questions will arise as he leads a nationwide search for his new coach. Benedict’s response will be metaphorically summed up by the rows of National Championship trophies on a poster above his desk, as UConn has won 22 NCAA National Tag Team titles.

“All they have to do is come to our campus,” Benoît said recently in his office. “If you come to our campus, the question will be, ‘Why don’t they win?’ No, “Can I win here? “”

What can UConn become in football? UConn proved shortly after jumping to FCS in 2000 that he could compete at this level, as he reached boules five of the seven years from 2004 to 2010 and was ranked in the Associated Press’s Top 25 at during three different seasons. After the 2010 season, the school reached the Fiesta Bowl. (He went 8-5 that year). UConn officials believe it shouldn’t be extremely difficult to recoup consistent winning seasons.

“I’m not going to compare us to people like Notre Dame,” Benedict said. “But BYU isn’t necessarily so far off the benchmark that we can’t establish ourselves as BYU as an independent.”

He is convinced that the financial commitment will remain. UConn paid Edsall nearly $ 1.2 million and previous trainer Bob Diaco $ 1.7 million. When asked if paying a trainer $ 2million was on hand, Benedict said, “Yes, because in the end it’s a relatively small overall increase in total pool and investment. and the feedback is important. If we hire the right person and start winning, we’re going to start selling a lot more season tickets and it will pay off many times over.

There is already a strong financial commitment, which is in line with the lower end of AAC. UConn pays $ 2 million to assistant coaches on the field and $ 1.2 million to off-field staff. It’s not exactly Clemson’s commitment, but it’s a total staff commitment of $ 4.4 million representing the head coach’s salary. There is an openness to this growing number.

“We have to go out and hire the right football coach,” Benedict said. “I believe we will have the support. If it takes a little more to do it, we will have the support to do it. Money does not necessarily automatically translate into earnings. Rather, it’s about identifying the right person.

UConn’s football roots in regaining competitiveness begin with a solid facility and schedule that will allow it to be a dynamic presence in the East until the end of this decade. UConn’s football facilities are some of the nicest outside of the Power 5, as the Burton Family Football Complex The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center would fit into a Big Ten school or ACC, because it includes a spacious interior and modern cloakroom.

UConn’s schedule, in many ways, makes more sense to his fan base than playing at the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies have six home games scheduled throughout the 2027 season, with the 2022 schedule showing the principles of what it will look like in the future with games against Syracuse (home), Boston College (home), Army (road ) and NC State (route). There’s a UConn game purchased from Central Connecticut and a check for $ 1.8 million from Michigan for a trip to Ann Arbor.

Other hotbeds for the coming seasons include Maryland, Pittsburgh, Duke, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Temple, Ole Miss, Syracuse (again), Army (again) and North Carolina. UConn’s home games will air on CBS Sports Network through 2024, giving the program national exposure.

Former ESPN executive and renowned planning consultant Dave Brown summed up UConn’s planning success by saying that the Huskies had basically planned all the people they wanted on the North East and East Coast. . “It came out better than I ever imagined it would be,” Brown said. “People want to play up there. “

What Kind of Coach Pool Can UConn Get? When former AD Warde Manuel hired Diaco in 2013, he was one of the best coordinators in the country at Notre Dame. He beat a group that included Ohio State Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman.

Benedict is optimistic that a strong pipeline of candidates will emerge, as he said the school and state’s commitment to sport is firmly established. “There’s nothing in this university that speaks to me that says we want to do things at a lower level,” Benedict said. “We want to compete. We have competed and we have competed successfully in football.


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