Bones to Pick

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

I assumed this was coming.

What really astonishes is the petulant emptiness of the comments.

For the record, I assumed, when approaching this topic, that somebody would be setting me straight, at some point, about something.  It’s a complicated subject, and I didn’t know much about it going in. I decided to write about it mainly out of frustration.  It seemed to me I hadn’t read a piece that satisfactorily explained (to me) how you UConn could go from such a dominating position in men’s and women’s basketball to being a school that no conference wanted.

I’m still operating on the assumption that there’s a lot about this that I still don’t understand. And I would relish an encounter with just about anybody who had a good handle on it and wanted to enlarge my thinking. Or even prove me wrong about something. That would be fine, because I really am genuinely curious.

What did I get here? The invective of peevish children.  I’m a moron, I’m lazy, I went to Yale. One person claims I said UConn would have been better off if there had never been a Calhoun era.  (For the record: I didn’t opine about Calhoun. I mentioned that Harvey Araton of the Times ascribed UConn’s current problem to Calhoun’s behavior.) A number of the commenters seem to be unfamiliar with $1.6 million bowl game shortfall, which was a front page story around here and made national news.

So I ask The Boneyard: Is there anybody there who actually knows anything? Anybody with facts that might shed a little light on anything? Because I really am curious.  And for any Boneyard visitors, there’s more material here with some interesting links.

And if you don’t have any facts, at least lay out your own explanation of how this happened. I’m really trying to understand.

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12 thoughts on “Bones to Pick

  1. Richard

    I’m a Boneyard regular. RS9999x. Obviously they don’t know you have a blog and I didn’t see any reason to tell them you do. That thread attracted the haters.

    There are several good theories on the UConn situation but make no mistake it boils down to football money and media deals.

    The first round in 2003 needs little explaining. BC, Syracuse and Miami were vetted by the ACC going back to 1997 when it was first proposed to the ACC and Tranghese prlposed that Nova and UConn should upgrade as a precautionary move.

    Syracuse got swapped out for Virginia Tech after some political haggling and due diligence. The ACC contract was renegotiated positioning themselves for a massive contract in 2010 which they got.

    Under the new BCS deal the ACC is sitting pretty. It took expanding to 14 teams plus Notre Dame to get them a seat at the playoff table with the Orange Bowl. As a 9-team league they were looking ‘expendable’ with Florida State a one-trick pony during the latter days of the Bobby Bowden era.

    For dirty politics and naked greed look no further than the story of Texas, the Longhorn Network, and the exodus to the SEC for Missouri and TExas A&M leaving Texas on tilt in an 8-team conference named the Big-12. TCU and West Virginia were the only teams the remainders could agree on as new members. Louisville was an also ran.

    The BiG knows The Big-12 and SEC are eyeingover the ACC and kicking tires and acts proactively taking Maryland and Rutgers. Perfect geographic positioning for them giving themselves several options for expansion from there.

    A proactive money move in two large affluent states where there is only one college football team of any worth at the Div I level. And the money!

    Forbes summed it up well. It’s the cable fees, the advertisers, and the Big Ten Network penetration as they look to become bigger than ESPN in College Sports within their market footprint.

  2. Richard

    At the end of the day the ADs and Presidents have to justify their decision to over ride media consultants and kiss away a million dollars just to prick Jim Calhoun. That isn’t what is happening.

    No one is running numbers that says CT has more Cable boxes than NJ or MD. Or that Football in New England will ever be like football in West Virginia or at Virginia Tech. Louisville makes for a great add to the ACC. They are firing on all cylinders.

    Their AD, Jurich, is nominated for AD of the year. Hathaway was fired.

    The fact is this: would UConn expand the Rent to 60,000 seats and sell it out if the Big-10 comes calling? I doubt it. It would be dicey to sustain 60,000 seat sales.

    1. Richard

      More on Louisville: The Football team went to the BCS Sugar Bowl as the BE rep this year. Both basketball teams are in the Final Four with the Louisville girls whooping Tennessee tonight.

      THen there’s this yearly ESPN factoid.

      Louisville Takes Top Spot… Again

      For the 11th consecutive year, Louisville was the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season college basketball telecasts, averaging a 4.5 rating.

      Greensboro finished in second place for the second straight year with a 3.1 rating. Hartford-New-Haven ranked 19th with a 1.3 rating.

  3. Richard

    Then there’s Bernie Fine at Syracuse and Rick Pitino’s nasty dalliance at Louisville with the team’s Equipment Manager’s wife who then tries to extort him. Morals aren’t really an issue here: its money and football. Some minor politics but like Cincy, UConn is simply on the short end of the stick.

    Based on Nate Silver’s popularity rankings for BCS teams only TCU and Louisville have smaller fan bases than UConn (of the teams being courted and absorbed in the last 13 years). However you can make some compelling arguments for the reasons TCU and Louisville were picked over UConn.

  4. Barry Cousins

    While Richard provides a comprehensive and sobering summary of reality, nevertheless, even with all the statistical research on cable boxes and popularity rankings, these decisions are also influenced by relationships, slights, vendettas and favors. BC’s objections to UConn weren’t based on cable rates. They were partly territorial chest thumping along with general disgust with the way they were excoriated by UConn after their defection to the ACC. What better way to get back at the Huskies than to blackball their nomination to the Country Club. And as for the ACC itself, Jim Boeheim commented to a friend that when he attended his first ACC meetings he was surprised at the level of vitriol still lingering today over the Big East’s expensive and divisive lawsuit (brought by several schools but forever stigmatized as the “Connecticut lawsuit” due to the very public diatribes of the ambitious Richard Blumenthal.) It would have been interesting to see how perceptions about UConn might have moderated had that lawsuit been pursued instead by New Jersey’s AG.

  5. Richard

    From the Boston Globe:

    The Atlantic Coast Conference’s expansion to 14 teams with the inclusion of Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East is being portrayed as a simple move to expand its footprint in the Northeast. Like almost all of the other moves in conference expansion over the past few years, it is also driven by the football-dominated television contracts – reaching into the billions of dollars – that have been negotiated with the Bowl Championship Series conferences.

    BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who was part of the 12-member ACC expansion committee, adamantly denied that the move was dictated by basketball interests, but he did concede that the effects of it may boost that sport more than football.

    “It had nothing to do with basketball,’’ said DeFilippo. “It was football money which drove expansion. It was football money and securing our future.’’

    DeFilippo said the move was dictated in part by the expansion of the Southeastern Conference to include Texas A&M, which prompted the Big 12 to inquire about Pittsburgh, which is in the Northeast, an area in which the ACC felt it necessary to expand.

    “We wanted new playmates and we wanted Eastern playmates,’’ said DeFilippo. “When the Big 12 inquired about Pittsburgh, we asked, ‘Why let them come into our area?’ ’’

    “Pittsburgh and Syracuse both are good fits, and they both have outstanding basketball programs. That’s definitely a plus.’’

    The overwhelming force behind the move, DeFilippo insisted, was television money.

    DeFilippo does not deny that BC opposed the inclusion of UConn.

    “We didn’t want them in,’’ he said. “It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.’’

    Turning to Pittsburgh BC officials argued that Pittsburgh, with a stronger tradition in football, as well as a long-established – though dormant – rivalry with the Eagles, would be a better fit.

  6. Urquhart

    Spent some time reading Boneyard entries. I’m always amazed at the number of students who are paying full tuition to subsidize the athletic programs but who seem willing to fight to the death to preserve the status quo. One contributor points out that Auburn lost money as a #1 (football) team, thereby proving the point he was trying to dispute. The system isn’t broken merely at UConn; it’s endemic. But as long as those suffering the most continue to defend it, nothing will change.

  7. The Funster

    UConn has run into the perfect storm. In twenty years a lot of people are going to look at all this realignment madness and ask, “What were they thinking?” Conference realignment is being driven by football. Tradition and rivalries aren’t important. Ethics and morals aren’t important either. If you look at West Virginia joining the Big 12 and subsequently raising the issues of time and travel cost before the year is even complete one can guess that logical, sober analysis of future impact isn’t all that important either. It’s all about money and it’s all about now.

    Why has UConn been left out? Let’s see…first it was because we were too new to big time football. At other times we weren’t a recognizable “brand” even though we’ve enjoyed success in our short tenure over teams that supposedly had a better “brand”. We’ve gotten passed over because one school (BC) thought they had to protect their turf. UConn is far more successful than woeful Rutgers yet Rutgers won out over us because they have more eyeballs residing with their state lines. Louisville won out over us because despite being little more than a commuter school (and thus not good enough academically for the prestigious ACC) the ACC suddenly decided that academics weren’t reallllllly that important and football success was. Louisville hasn’t really demonstrated that they can sustain football success but hey, they were in the right place at the right time and happen to have had a great AD in Jurich as well.

    UConn is considered to be in the 30th largest market. That market doesn’t include NYC which includes Fairfield County which, obviously, bring more eyeballs and a pretty hefty rise in disposable income. OK, the Rent isn’t spilling over with fans and yeah, the school had to shell out money for the Fiesta Bowl but a lot of schools lose money on bowls. Bowls aren’t designed to make money at the turnstyle. They are media events that make their money off of TV. How many schools have made the leap to big time football as well as UConn has (Pasqualoni years not withstanding)? Why is success is men’s and women’s basketball suddenly so unimportant? What about soccer, baseball, hockey and softball? UConn has shown that it can field competitive teams in a wide variety of sports. Why isn’t all that quality content important to someone?

    If there were consistent criteria for picking a team for a conference I’d guess we’d have some measurables we could evaluate. However, looking over the conference realignment landscape there appears to a distinct lack of consistent criteria for choosing one team over another.

  8. Richard

    UConn is a bubble team. in realignment.

    Of the 62 teams with an average attendance over 40,000 per game all but 3 are aligned with the Big Five Conferences. Of the teams with an attendance below 35,000 only 4 are aligned in the Big 5–old legacy names like Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Washington State.

    Then there’s the bubble: teams with an average attendance between 35,000 – 40,000. Cincy, UConn, BC, Maryland, UCF, USF. This of course is where all the squabbling is.

    Sure some have UConn has the top of the bubble, Next team in. They did last time too.

    For bubble politics look into the ACC media contracts Junior Partner Raycom and their 3 television stations in Ohio including in Cincy. Raycom ponies up 35% of the ACC contract and does game production and other duties as described below. That’s the next drama: why Cincy has a friend on the inside for the next slot. Not to mention ACC Commisioner John Swofford’s son is making his career there.

    Bubble politics!

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