Mailbag April 7: Do You Really Think UConn Is Headed In Right Direction?

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Q: Dez, I know that you are not UConn fan, but I always respected your coverage and analysis of the program which leads me to ask do you really think we are headed in the right direction? Myself I think ADWM has did a good job keeping ourselves relevant with the out of conference scheduling in football and especially in basketball for next year. However I’m still concerned for the future. Frankie, Stamford

A: Thanks Frankie. For the record I’m a big fan of a whole lot of people associated with UConn and have been for a long time. There are a lot of good people up there. I believe two of those people are President Herbst and athletic director Warde Manuel. I think they have and will lead the school/academic/athletic programs in the right direction. In the meantime UConn has to be darn good at everything it does and I mean everything. Thanks Frankie…

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28 thoughts on “Mailbag April 7: Do You Really Think UConn Is Headed In Right Direction?

  1. joesimsbury

    @ anonymous

    No insult or slight intended – I believe the men are boys and the women are girls at their age. Hell, I have shoes that are older than all of them!


    Wow!!! @Craig excellent !! On point and would agree with a lot of your points. Bravo!!

  3. Andy

    Interesting discussion. I suppose to really answer the question, you have to know how you’re going to measure or identify what “heading in the right direction” means. If heading in the right direction means, being partnered among the high end revenue sharing groups of division 1A football schools around the college football post season, OR: in general media rights revenue, we are one of three schools (Cincy, and USF being the others) that have clearly gone in the wrong direction. It’s really hard to fault Susan Herbst and Warde Manuel for any of that, because the mechanisms that led to it, were put in motion a long, long time before they held their positions at UCONN, and to do anythign realistic to change it? First you have to understand it. My guess, is that by the time they really understood any of it, and UCONN’s part in it, it was well beyond the point where anything useful could be done, while instead, president’s and AD’s at schools like Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh have been knee deep in the intricacies of shifiting intercollegiate athletic ocnferences for many years.

    Other than that, it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion that we are not heading in the right direction. THe university is growing, in pretty much every way possible (aside from athletic revenue from media rights revenue sharing.) If there’s one thing I can be reasonably confident about, it’s that the media rights arrangments for intercollegiate athletics can change a lot faster, than any of the other stuff (Like building a new Storrs Center, new facilities all over campus, hiring new professors, increasing research funding, etc. etc. Those things take a lot longer, to change, adn keep moving in positive directions, than athletic media rights.

  4. joesimsbury


    My position is that nobody has to explain themselves to anyone who chooses to read our collective drivel! (Although, I suppose Dez could shut us all down.) I enjoy the back and forth knowing that we all share the common hope for the best with UConn. As is expected when at least two people talk – there will be disagreement (this sometimes occurs when only one person talks, but I digress…).

    I think you make some excellent points and I hope people are reading. However, I do think you may be jumping the gun a little with SH and WM. Especially Herbst, she is such a breath of fresh air compared to Hogan and she is doing all she can, in her realm, to help UConn out of this conference hell. Manuel has not done much to date. But he followed a very ineffective AD in Hathaway. I do believe we have to give WM some more time to get this figured out. He is no Tom Jurich and we can’t afford on-the-job training at this juncture, but some more patience would be warranted. (BTW, if you want to read a great story about Tom Jurich see Dennis Dodd’s article at dated 4/3/13.) Jurich is a ball of fire and he has launched Louisville right by us. Manuel should take a chapter out of his book! Jurich has done everything at Louisville with a sense of urgency and Manuel needs to get in that mode now.

    BTW, “here, here” to the girls and Geno – they have provided a welcome diversion from the conference mess and also reminded some possible suitor conferences that UConn is not going away (at least for the moment).

  5. Craig

    Artie, I do not comment on here often, but I read the blog daily. My background is a season ticket holder since Indiana day 1 at the Rent (while living 2 hrs away), road warrior at Notre Dame, Michigan, USF, Fiesta Bowl, Maryland, Rutgers 3x, and will be attending SMU and UCF road games – if you’re questioning my fandom.
    Professional background is post grad Columbia University Sports Business Mgmt, and I work at a major sports network. It is my job to understand the landscape and business of all sports, including college athletics. I see what other good ADs do, how they sell and position, and how they constantly politic to end up in a good position. Hathaway had a bad rep, and WM was unproven. Facts.
    Sorry if I don’t stack up and that you consider me a “troll” … whatever that means. I’m a fan first and foremost, so my background should not matter at all to you. Im talking as a fan. These are my opinions, and just want the very best for a program that I love.
    In the ever-flowing river that is conference realignment, we do not have time to develop AD’s with all that’s going on with the athletics dept hanging in the balance. Like I said, you may know WM and SH, but I don’t. I am also not naive, as I do not think that all presidents and athletic directors are hard working. Athletics in mind, and just athletics, WM has not lived up to my expectations in selling athletics, leveraging the brand and putting the programs in the best possible position to succeed. Just my opinion. I also did not realize that I need to explain myself to Artie in order to post on this blog. Go Huskies.

    1. Artie A...

      @ Craig, I will be polite to any Husky fan but I must stand my ground. You could be lying and so could I but I have not and will not. I find you amusing.

      Professional background is post grad Columbia University Sports Business Mgmt, and I work at a major sports network. It is my job to understand the landscape and business of all sports, including college athletics.

      Really, all this cred and you don’t know what troll means? That or mention who you would have hired over Susan or Warde? Someone spent a lot of money on your education, not sure of the value they recieved.

      You say you did not realize you have to explain your self to Artie to post on this blog. Obviously Columbia did not provide common sense 101.

      Do not push me too hard as I am a high school drop out….GO DOGS……

      1. Craig

        Artie, you asked, i answered, right?

        I do not and will not misrepresent myself. Ever.

        A wise man once said don’t argue with fools, because from a distance no one can tell who is who.

        With that said, I stand by my comments and will take the high road.

        Desmond, though you side with Artie’s comments, great work here and thanks for the forum.

        1. dconner Post author

          @Craig – no worries. You can vent here; you’re respectful and that’s all it takes.

          That being said in reference to siding with Artie I’d just say he has a pretty good understanding of what the new administration walked into here, some people have forgotten or chose to ignore. It’s not that easy. I think he understands that and I think he understands there was a lot to overcome Craig. It’s one thing not to like the President or AD but I don’t think we can ignore their uphill battle coming here Craig. No one can. If they do they do then you have to chart those criticisms of them as uniformed or disingenuous at best

  6. Artie A...

    @ Craig your comment is so clueless, leads me to believe you are just another troll.

    You are not only a fake but simply have no clue about the situation UConn is or has been in. First you throw Susan and Warde under the bus and then blame Hathaway, you have no clue of what you speak. At least pick one over the other please.

    You sound like a Jack blaming either because the problem was created long before they arrived. Are you pissed about our soccer coaches coming from lower divisions? How about baseball etc. This has been documented time and again.

    How angry are you that our Hall of Fame basketball coaches had none of the attributes you demand above until they developed them right here at UCONN?

    Yes they had some important allies as you say but it was not won overnight. Just what BCS guy as you suggest for a hire do you think would have taken a lower salary in a very small state?

    I am as pissed as you are about where we are but I cannot blame Sue or Warde. I am smart enough to realize they are not dummies but rather hard working scholars trying to take our home school to the next level. This both academically and athletically with the limited funds provided by a state school.

    I look forward to reading your background as an authority on their incompetence.
    You bring it. I will respect it…..

  7. UConn Jac

    Thanks DC we try; Jack if my memory still works on that ACC expansion go round it was headed towards Syracuse and UConn; but BC claimed that all of New England was their exclusive territory so Pitt was the choice. Also, BC has more $$$ I’m guessing they might have an Endowment Fund of $2 Billion while UConn might have appx $400 million. UConn, has a difficult road to get into ACC, Big 1G, or even the Big 12. Unfortunately or fortunately they have to put the tools in the tool box go to work and earn it. Fortunately their current President is a brilliant woman. Things will turn around. Anyway,; the old Big East is going out in style!!!

  8. jack54

    Conference re-alignments came too fast for UConn. SH +WM are on the right track ,but the university + athletic upgrades are behind the curve. There is a lot of catching up to do. No doubt that L’Ville was a better choice at this time for the ACC. They are the hottest athletic dept in the nation right now. Uconn was screwed by Pitt. NO way are they a better choice for a BCS conference anyway you look at it. Why they were invited, I can not figure out. If ACC $50 mil exit fee holds, no other ACC school will leave. If B1G wants to expand , UConn may move up to their short list. Good partner for Rutgers in NYC market now that their reputation has taken a hit.

  9. Palatine

    UConn has had the talent to compete for many years. It’s up to the coaching staff to start using the pieces that they have to collect victories.

  10. UConn Jac

    I believe the AD and Pres were in the Bahamas in support of the mens BB team and had already made their presentation to the ACC. If you Look at Athletic dept Budget, Facilities, current Fan Support for FB and Mens BB Louisville wins hands down. Now J. Hathaway and those above him at UConn and in ST Govt imposed Budget cutting measures that were a big part along with a recruiting scandal and poor test scores in men’ to the Ads bb. A sclool cant push away Big donors and J. Hathaway did. Lets hope as fans that Jim Calhoun elects to stay on as a special assistant to Warde Manuel for several years and not the buyout. Now if Husky Football goes 12W and 1L with 10,000 fans attending the Orange or Sugar Bowl win then we have something to talk about.

  11. Craig

    Athletics-related, and only speaking about the incompetance of both when it comes to athletics:
    Herbst and Warde are out of their league and were out worked by UL’s AD Jurich, who deserves every penny of his huge salary… getting Louisville the last ticket out of the BE with a smaller market, less athletic success and far less academic success was unbelievable. He showed Manuel that relationships, hard work, and selling ability pays off. If he were our AD imagine where we would be…it would not be here, that’s for sure.
    They could be good people but are not good for athletics. Both failed at the biggest point of UConn athletics, and any other working American that fails that miserably at their job would get fired. If I stayed in the Bahamas at the biggest moment of my career, I would expect to get fired. That moment aside, they lack important allies and contacts that could have helped the conf shuffle, and do not wield a big stick on a national scale. They couldn’t sell a great product, huge brand, strong market, good academics, and winning programs.
    Manuel is in over his head, he’s never had to navigate tough waters like this at Buffalo, that’s for sure. We hired him from Buffalo. Buffalo. Yes, I said Buffalo. At the moment when we needed someone to Navigate the waters, we hired a non BCS guy. Awesome to have such a disconnected guy, I don’t care if he played at Michigan, he cut his teeth at a MAC school, a terrible one at that.
    But that’s in the past. So now for the future: Sad thing is, when we get invited to a new conference, it will be in spite of these 2- not because of them. And they will get credit when it happens, probably will field congratulatory calls from the bahamas at another bball tourney.
    It’s their fault we’re still in the aac and as fans its because of them that we have to pay to see Memphis play football instead of Clemson or FSU. Makes me sick that these 2 people – and Hathaway- sunk UConn to a mid major.
    What do we need to get into the Big 10?
    Nothing. The next conference shift will land us somewhere out of default, so let’s not be quick to thank Herbst and Manuel.

    1. UConnJack

      @Craig. . . I have been preaching the same thing for the last year. I am 100% in agreement with EVERYTHING you stated.

      1. Anonymous

        Louisville beat us to the ACC soley because of football. ACC was worried Florida State and Clemson would leave if they did not bring in a good football program. UConn may have brought the conference more money, but Louisville brought more stabalization to conference realignment.

  12. husky66

    would not have ever thought it possible but a Big 10 invite could be as simple at Big10 pulling RU’s invitation after all the really bad decision making that’s been going on in New Brunswick from the top on down. Anyone hear or see a Big 10 announcement confirming RU as still on track to join?

    for Herbst, UConn’s committment to grow faculty and then the STEM expansion makes UC on track to be way more like a Big10 school than RU. looking more and more like UConn is being built to be an AAU school for the right reasons; football invite would just be extra icing on that cake.

    for Manuel, those OOC games are some really good work.

    So lets go sell out the Rent, win 9-10 fb games, esp the OOC, get ranked and travel well.

  13. Rich

    D.C. So what do you think that direction is? Is it, stay in the new AAC or go another conference? Also, what does it take or what changes need to be made to be asked into a conference like the Big 10?

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