There's no more ConFLiCT between UConn and UCF

Storrs — Coach Bob Diaco declared the Civil ConFLiCT dead on Tuesday.

It prematurely expired due to a lack of interest from Central Florida, which elected not to claim the trophy after Saturday's 24-16 win over UConn at Rentschler Field.

As far as Diaco is concerned, the trophy created to drum up a rivalry between the two American Athletic Conference football teams met an unfortunate demise.

"They didn't go get it," Diaco said about UCF. "Very disappointing to me. It seemed like a fun thing for kids, seemed like a fun intercollegiate piece to a game, but apparently not. So I'm good on it. It's gone."

Seemingly reluctant at first to address the ConFLiCT issue during Tuesday's weeklyi press conference, Diaco passionately spoke in length when asked about it on two different occasions, detailing its brief history and his intentions.

Since inventing the ConFLiCT, Diaco has taken more than his share of criticism and ridicule for an idea he came up with while attending a conference meeting more than two years ago. He did some research and spoke with all the parties involved before moving forward.

"I went and talked to exactly who I needed to talk to, here and there," Diaco said, "about what my intention was — to add some intrigue, some excitement to a game that otherwise would have no intrigue or excitement.

"I had yeses at every turn and then I went ahead. Was it my idea? Yes. Did I then do the work to go activate it and make it a thing? Yes. Did I do it unilaterally? Absolutely not."

The Huskies raised the trophy for the first time after beating the Knights in Orlando last year.

But Central Florida never warmed up to the idea after initially accepting it on some level. When a new coaching staff took over this season, head coach Scott Frost showed no interest.

"This wasn't one-sided until they decided that it should be," Diaco said.

In the end, Diaco accomplished part of his mission, bringing national attention to a game that would have been ignored by college football world outside the AAC.

"How many articles has your publication written on this one topic?" Diaco asked the media in attendance Tuesday. "How about nationally? How many conversations nationally have been on this one topic, talking about two teams that would have no relevance otherwise?

"... In fact, I would be interested, has this gotten more copy and conversation than the (AAC) championship game a year ago? ... Was it covered nationally as widely as our rivalry and trophy game?

"So I really don't understand why it was a bad idea, I really don't. And I'm sorry to everyone that I had an idea. What's your idea? How do we make these games relevant to our fans and followers?  How do we make sure America understands that the American Conference is every bit as good as these other leagues?"

Diaco says he has other ideas about ways to improve the AAC's exposure, generate interest and draw more fans to the sport. He brought up targeting the 6-16 year old audience, pointing out that they eventually grow up to be part of the desirable 18-35 year old market. He mentioned broadcasting games on Nickelodeon.

Right now, most teams in the AAC lack a real connection.

Given what transpired with the ConFLiCT, Diaco might be reluctant to create another rivalry game. He's open to hearing ideas from others.

"I hope there is a new topic," Diaco said. "College football is awesome. College football is fun. And all these things add fun and intrigue. So somebody come up with something. I might be a little jaded. I might not want to come up with anything anymore with all the flat-out haymakers that I've taken over this for some reason. ... Like why? The idea worked.

"It was well-intended. ... I tried hard to make it cool for the young people in the two universities and I apparently failed."

Diaco has far more important matters to attend to, specifically finding a way to jump-start his Huskies, who've lost four of their five games to put their bowl hopes in jeopardy. UConn (3-5, 1-4) visits East Carolina (2-5, 0-3) on Saturday in Greenville, N.C.

As far the fate of the ConFLiCT trophy, now that it's not needed, Diaco had a suggestion.

"You want to make a coat rack out of it?" Diaco said.

g.keefe@theday.com

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