With Big 12 school presidents and athletic directors set to meet Feb. 4 and 5, conference realignment rumors are swirling faster than ever. With UConn on the outside looking in on Power 5 conference as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Daily Campus sports staff weighs in on which conference is the ideal landing spot for the Huskies and which conference is the most realistic for them to get into.
Chris Hanna Campus Correspondent
With UConn desperate for a move to a Power 5 Conference, I think that the best fit is undoubtedly the ACC. The move would give the school the level of competition it needs in basketball, would renew the great rivalry with Syracuse, and most importantly, wouldn’t completely destroy our football program’s chances at getting enough wins to get a bowl bid like going to the Big Ten would.
However, the ACC is already big enough as is, and the other schools probably wouldn’t care to add UConn to an already stacked basketball conference and an increasingly better football conference. For that reason, as well as the new influence of Warde Manuel as Michigan’s AD, I think the most likely destination for UConn is the Big Ten.
Although the football team might suffer a year or two (or more) of mediocrity with the incredibly difficult Big Ten schedule, the basketball team would feel at home and get a significantly better strength of schedule, which is something the program has missed dearly in recent years. Furthermore, the money that would come into the school from the Big Ten TV network deal, and the better recruits we’d get as a result of being in the conference are all keys to a successful realignment for UConn.
The only real obstacle is getting membership into the Association of American Universities, a requirement for Big Ten membership, but I think Warde Manuel and Susan Herbst will pull a few strings and the deal will get done to put UConn in the Big Ten by 2018.
Tyler Keating, Staff Writer
I think that the ideal landing spot for UConn has to be the ACC. For men’s basketball, the ACC would both re-unite the Huskies with some long-time rivals and allow them to play national powers on a regular basis. Instead of UCF and Tulane making the trip to Gampel Pavilion in the middle of February, it would be Duke and Syracuse.
Also, the women’s team would meet Notre Dame twice a year, and play programs that could compete with them, rather than simply try to avoid a 50-point loss. The ACC would also be a nice environment for the football team to grow in, allowing UConn to be competitive while also trying their hand against a few national powers.
However, the ACC is just a dream, as perfect as it may seem. Should the Huskies make a leap into a Power 5 conference any time soon, the most likely spot appears to be the Big 12. That’s the conference with the most motivation to expand, and the only conference that has been linked, through tangible rumors, to UConn. Somehow, the geographical fit is even worse than the American, as three trips to the Kansas/Oklahoma/Texas trio would become eight.
But a power conference is a power conference, and UConn needs to take whatever they can get their hands on.
Matt Barresi Campus Correspondent
The best fit for UConn has to be the ACC. In a dream world, out of all of the schools in the ACC who don’t fit the geographical billing, Louisville will realize they fit it the least and should the Big 12 elect to expand, head that way, opening a slot for UConn. Geographically, competition wise, and financially it makes the most sense. It’s the best basketball conference in the country, fitting UConn perfectly. It would give the Huskies a couple rivalry games against northeast foes Boston College and Syracuse.
Plenty of things that are not anticipated may take place before the Huskies end up in a new conference, but right now the Big 12 seems to be at the forefront of conference expansion and despite being in New England, UConn has an athletic resume that they cannot ignore. Should the Huskies go anywhere soon, that will likely be the spot. Don’t sleep on the Big Ten; they aren’t really in the market right now. But UConn now has a friend on the inside in Warde Manuel. And with the Big Ten trying to grow their own hockey conference (now in it’s third year), an up and coming program such as UConn has to be an appealing option.
Josh Buser, Campus Correspondent
As great as ACC basketball is, conference realignment is always about football – as UConn found out the hard way when the basketball-heavy Big East fell apart. With that being said, the ideal conference for UConn is the Big Ten.
In the final college football Associated Press poll, the Big Ten had six teams in the top 25, the most of any conference. Although this means that UConn football would initially struggle to win games, recruits would be attracted to the bright lights of a top conference and I’m confident that Bob Diaco can bring UConn to the level of the other schools.
Big Ten basketball is also in great shape, with five teams in the most recent Associated Press Top 25. UConn fans complain about the lack of a rivalry in the Big Ten, but UConn is no stranger to creating rivalries out of thin air (see Civil Conflict).
Realistically, each school in the Big Ten is a member of the American Association of Universities, which UConn is not. This leaves the Big 12 as the most realistic landing destination. Oklahoma President David Boren has voiced his strong desire for expanding and adding a conference TV network. UConn would be a smart add in that respect, bringing the conference into the huge Northeast TV market. The argument of UConn not fitting the conference geographically is relevant, but neither does West Virginia, a current member of the Big 12.
Dan Madigan, Associate Sports Editor
To me, there isn’t a more perfect landing spot for the Huskies than the ACC. Basketball games against Duke and North Carolina would be a blast, not to mention rekindling rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Also, the ACC is generally one of the weaker Power 5 conferences in regards to football, which would give a UConn football program that is on the rise a chance to be competitive right away. Not to mention, going to the ACC would allow the Huskies to remain in the Hockey East for hockey, which is the best hockey conference in the country. While the Big Ten is a great conference, rekindling old rivalries and staying in Hockey East would benefit UConn the most athletically and financially.
That being said, it looks like the ACC and Big Ten are set in stone for a little while, which makes the Big 12 UConn’s best shot at a Power 5 school. UConn’s proximity to New York City and Boston offers east-coast appeal that the conference is missing, and would make the Big 12 a truly national conference. The Big 12 would also provide quality basketball and football competition (as well as in baseball, softball and more), allow hockey to remain to in Hockey East and essentially be similar travel-wise to what the Huskies already do as members of the American.
Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn women’s soccer. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.