My reaction over the weekend when it was leaked that the University of Connecticut would be leaving the AAC for the Big East was not unlike that Ice Cube gif (left).
Because no matter how much UConn huffed and puffed and tried to resuscitate its failing football program, the patient died as a result of some pretty bad administrative decisions. (Hiring a hot assistant doesn’t always work as Bob Diaco the assistant coach of the year for Notre Dame turned into a nightmare as a head coach for UConn.)
Really, what was the difference between what happened to Temple in 2003 and UConn now? The Big East then kicked Temple out for what it perceived to be (their words) “non-competitiveness” when, in reality, Temple was regularly beating some teams that the Big East decided to keep.
UConn was beating really nobody last year in football and its once dynamite men’s basketball program was in the middle of the league’s pack. (Hell, it’s now hard to pick out Geoff Collins’ worst loss: 2018 Villanova or 2017 UConn. Both times he played arguably the second-best quarterback on the team so it might be a toss-up.)
The AAC probably didn’t have the stones to kick out UConn like the Big East did to Temple back then so, in effect, what the UConn leaders did this week a favor to the AAC. There is no chance the league allows UConn to take out both of its good programs (men’s and women’s basketball) and leave its one crappy program (football).
Temple, in my mind, belongs in the Power 5 but that doesn’t appear on the horizon soon and, failing that, we have to accept where we are now and UConn leaving the league improves our lot at least a little bit.
Now the American can add a team like BYU (not likely) or Buffalo/Army (more likely). They would have to figure out a way to flip the Army/Navy week and the league championship weeks and that might be an insurmountable hurdle. If so, then the league turns to Buffalo, which more fits the AAC profile of larger TV markets and has a program that is immediately ready to compete in the two highest-profile sports. AAC would have the top G5 market (Philadelphia, 4) plus Dallas-Ft. Worth (5), Washington D.C. (Navy, 9th), Tampa-St. Pete (USF, 13th), Orlando (UCF, 19th), Cincinnati (34th), Memphis (48th) and Buffalo (51) and New Orleans (Tulane, 53). That’s a lot of eyeballs.
Buffalo would be the logical choice, about the same distance away as UConn for Temple fans, and a current upgrade in both sports.
That should and will probably be the successful Northeast school that replaces the unsuccessful departed one.
Saturday: The Latest Hit Piece on Temple football
Monday: A Week of Best of TFFs