An apology to Bob Diaco

Head Coach Bob Diaco at the Civil Conflict game against UCF on Sat., Oct. 22, 2016. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

Dear Coach Diaco,

Last week, the sports department of this lovely publication took it upon ourselves to dedicate an entire week to what you dubbed the Civil Conflict two years ago. While some may have seen this as a mockery of the rivalry you created, just know we did it entirely out of love. Seriously.

But, I digress. During Conflict Week, I wrote a column saying that the Conflict actually showed how bad of a situation UConn athletics is in. And it’s true; I don’t think that I was necessarily wrong. But blaming it all on the creation of the Conflict may have been a bit too unfair.

See, it’s so easy to view the Conflict as a joke, merely because UConn was taking it very seriously and UCF was not. In light of your comments today, I see what you were trying to accomplish and how UCF basically abandoned everything. And in all honesty, I must say that I do not scrutinize you for trying to make this a thing.

I actually think it worked.

See, it would have been a very lighthearted rivalry if UCF had joined in. We would all make “conFLiCT” jokes and have a good-spirited laugh at the trophy and the countdown clock. Now after your press conference, it is clear that you are distressed and upset that this did not pan out the way you wish it had. Now, there is actual tension here. UConn actually has some revenge to take out on UCF for not taking this seriously (well, come on, as serious as it could possibly be).

But, you were right. The creation of the Conflict did work. People outside of the American don’t care about the championship game. It doesn’t get coverage. But the Conflict became such a big deal in the sports world that SportsCenter’s Scott Van Pelt even had something to say about it. Under what other circumstances would a UConn vs. UCF football game EVER garner national attention of this caliber?

The answer is none. The press would have NEVER covered it as closely as they did. The Daily Campus would have NEVER dedicated an entire week to it. And the national media wouldn’t have even batted an eyelash in our direction if not for this crazy trophy.

Members of the UConn defensive line tackle UCF running back Dontravious Wilson (7) during the Huskies 24-16 loss to the Knights on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at Rentschler Field. The loss signaled the end of the Civil Conflict. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

I still stand by my statement when I say real rivalries cannot be manufactured or created out of thin air. However, there is some actual history starting to form from this. Your public commentary lashing out at UCF for making you look foolish in this process actually puts some heat on the burner. The fact that they completely abandoned this adds real tension. Truth be told, if both teams had played along, it would be more of a funfest than a real rivalry.

Now there’s intensity. Now we’re starting to see some purpose. I could imagine just how badly you want to beat UCF’s team into the ground, and I can imagine how badly they must reciprocate that feeling now that you’ve publicly called them out for all of this.

You are right, Mr. Diaco. There is no reason you should be scrutinized for this. You had good reasons, and good intentions. Trying to make a fun trophy game that fans and kids could enjoy was not a bad move in theory. And it’s not like UConn football is in the national spotlight for their performance; we can get away with something like this, making it fun while also trying our best to actually win.

Maybe it was the state of the football program that initially made this laughable. But one thing is for certain now: In publicly saying this is no longer a rivalry, you have actually just achieved your goal.

You just created a rivalry.


Stephanie Sheehan is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.