While UConn Huskies’ sports fans have had their fair share of incredible moments, (i.e. dual national championships in 2004 and 2014), there have also been several heartbreaking moments in UConn sports history. The DC Sports staff discuss their worst moments as UConn fans, whether in person or on TV, in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Rachel Schaefer, Staff Writer
I was at Yankee Stadium when UConn football lost to Army in 2014. I was in the band at the time, so I’d been forced to watch UConn football live on several occasions that season and the pain always weighed on me. But here we were, in Yankee Stadium, playing alongside the Army band, and UConn was making a drive down the field with almost no time left in the fourth quarter. A touchdown would’ve tied it. We were ecstatic. For the first time, we were witnessing a good game.
Then the ball was intercepted at the one yard line and carried 99 yards for a touchdown. We lost 35-21. The pain is still fresh. On the bright side, I got to touch a World Series ring so the day wasn’t completely lost.
Matt Barresi, Staff Writer
This is kind of a catch-22 but for me, it’s probably Cincinnati’s Kevin Johnson hitting a go-ahead three-pointer with .8 left in their 2015 American Conference tournament game against UConn. If you remember, this game was the Friday spring break began and I was streaming the game on my laptop before catching a Peter Pan Bus home. A back and forth game that went through several overtimes forced me to leave my dorm and walk and watch on WatchESPN on my phone as I migrated from Shippee to the bus stop in front of CTC. I was deeply invested in this, my first season as a UConn fan as a UConn student and if we didn’t win this game we were probably missing the big dance. Out front of CTC with a bunch of my peers, I continued streaming the game. When the Bearcats got the offensive rebound and Johnson stroked that three I was crushed. So crushed I quickly powered off my phone as an act of resignation. I couldn’t believe UConn basketball was going to do me like this.
Of course, we all know what happened next. I got on the bus and turned my screen on and WatchESPN was still kicking. I didn’t understand. Twitter quickly explained. But because of Kevin Johnson, I missed probably the greatest shot in UConn basketball history (save Kemba on Gary McGhee’s ankles). So thanks, KJ.
Honorable mention has to be freezing to death at Frozen Fenway while we got shellacked by a pitiful Maine team and I couldn’t even see the puck most of the time.
Matt Severino, Campus Correspondent
My worst memory isn’t a single competition, but the collapse of the men’s basketball program. Kemba Walker accomplished the unthinkable in 2011, winning 11 straight games enroute to capturing UConn’s third national championship. To start the season, coach Jim Calhoun was suspended for the first three conference games and the program lost a scholarship due to illegal recruiting activity. The Huskies failed to produce the following season, resulting in a first round exit in March 2012. Calhoun announced his retirement that summer following the NCAA announcing more drastic punishments for poor academic scores by the players. The team lost two additional scholarships and most importantly, was banned from any postseason play that year. In total, five players left the team. Watching the team fall from the pinnacle of collegiate athletics to the darkest point in the program’s illustrious history was heartbreaking. The team’s postseason aspirations were ended before the season ever began.
Luke Swanson, Campus Correspondent
The lowest part of my UConn football fandom came shortly after the highest point. Not nine years after completing the transition to NCAA Division 1-A, UConn was set to play in its first-ever BCS bowl, the 2011 Fiesta Bowl against one of the giants of college football, Oklahoma.
There was more buzz around the football program leading up to that game than at any point I can remember. UConn had won the Big East for the second time in four years, and it seemed like Randy Edsall had UConn on the verge of something special, potentially creating a football powerhouse in Connecticut where there wasn’t before.
Then, the actual game came. I watched Oklahoma embarrass UConn 48-20, live from my living room. Oklahoma had won the Big 12 with an 11-2 record, and they pummelled UConn in every phase of the game, seemingly offended by the fact that they had to face a relatively unknown program like UConn as their reward.
After the game ended Edsall, the coach that had been with UConn since the beginning, took a separate flight to Maryland and became head coach there. Nearly seven years later my favorite college football team still hasn’t recovered from that night in Phoenix.
Andrew Morrison, Staff Writer
As a freshman last year, few events excited me more than my first UConn men’s basketball home game in the student section at Gampel. We entered the season ranked No. 18 in the country, we had a soft home opener against Wagner, and the Huskies were previously 27-0 in home openers in Gampel. What could go wrong? Everything. UConn trailed at the half by three points, obviously a surprising score, but the general feeling in the air was that the Huskies would come out in the second half and light the Seahawks up. Instead, they didn’t score for the first five minutes of the half. Shortly after, however, I got my first real taste of blissful student section chaos. The Huskies went on a 12-0 run, tying the game at 49 apiece. It appeared that UConn had finally shaken off the rust. Except they hadn’t. Wager outscored the Huskies 18-9 from that point on, and UConn lost its first Gampel home opener in history—in my first taste of UConn hoops as a student. I remember walking out in, like everyone around me, a kind of shock. Hopefully this year I’ll leave with a more pleasant feeling.
Kevin Arnold, Campus Correspondent
When the women’s team lost in the Final Four last year was my worst moment as a UConn sports fan. I mean when a team wins 111 games in a row, they’re bound to lose one at some point but to have the loss end a streak of that magnitude and to have it come at that point in the season was rough. I remember sitting in my room with one of my roommates as the final buzzer went off and we kind of just looked at each other and sat there in shock. This was a team that had won four straight National Championships and as a freshman last year, I was excited and almost expecting them to take home a fifth. After sitting through a three-win football season and a very underwhelming men’s basketball season, the women winning it all would’ve been just what this campus needed. Obviously that didn’t happen but I’m definitely excited for what this season has in store.
Jorge Eckardt, Campus Correspondent
As a freshman who just started following UConn athletics about two months ago, the most heartbreaking moment for me was UConn Football’s loss to ECU. After going down 41-21 midway through the third quarter, I had given up almost all hope. Then something unexpected happened, the defense suddenly became impenetrable and did not let up a single point for the rest of the game. The UConn offense slowly crawled its way back, but time was running out. I kept telling myself that if the offense did not score on this drive, then I was going to call it quits and leave, but the offense just did not stop. There I was, sitting in the 90 degree weather, sunburn getting worse and worse, and the hope of a UConn comeback growing with every score.
Then came the final drive of the game, 2 minutes and 29 seconds left on the clock, and starting at our own nine yard line. Shirreffs led the offense 76 yards downfield all the way to the East Carolina 15 yard line. Six seconds left on the clock and all we needed was a 33-yard field goal from Tarbutt to tie it up and send the game to overtime. 33-yards should be a chip-shot for any D1 kicker. I thought to myself if he makes this it will all be worth it, the sweltering bus ride to and from, sitting in the incredible heat, and the bright red sunburn on the back of my neck. I waited as he kicked it, fingers crossed, and then the worst possible outcome that could happen happened. Tarbutt shanked it, wide right, game over, UConn loses 41-38.
Story Salit, Campus Correspondent
Considering that I’m a freshman from out-of-state, I can’t say I’ve been much of a fan of UConn athletics until I put my deposit down in April, and therefore haven’t experienced any real nightmare moments as a Husky. To this point, my worst experience as a UConn fan was the football team’s season opener against Holy Cross. Through three quarters, I watched heavily favored UConn get thoroughly outplayed by Holy Cross, a school of less than 3,000 students whose football team competes in the Patriot League Conference. At the end of the 3rd quarter, with the team trailing 20-14, several of my friends and I were fed up with Huskies poor performance and decided to leave the stadium and take a bus back to campus. As I was just boarding a bus, I heard the stadium erupt in cheer and soon got a notification that UConn scored a touchdown to go ahead by 1 point. By the time the bus had brought us back to campus, UConn had scored again and sealed a 27-20 win. Not only did I witness one of UConn football’s poorer performances through three quarters against a weak opponent, I missed an exciting comeback that would have been a nice memory as a first-time fan.