It's hard to take UConn football seriously one minute longer
East Hartford — There is danger speaking in absolutes — about anything, really — mostly because life consistently produces new evidence and changing circumstances.
UConn football qualifies as a notable exception.
Straight up: It's hard to take this program seriously one minute longer.
Is there really another conclusion to be drawn from Saturday's 38-28 loss to Holy Cross at lifeless Rentschler Field?
Think about this: Holy Cross, protecting a three-point lead early in the fourth period, went 98 yards in four plays for a touchdown. Reminder: This is Holy Cross. I don't care if the Crusaders are the favorite to win the Patriot League. It's Holy Cross. I mean, what's going to happen when UConn plays at Clemson later this season?
No longer is there the benefit of any doubt for anybody associated with the program. No longer is there dismissing conversation about whether football here should continue. It's all on the table. It's hard to fathom that it's gotten this bad. Even past seasons that ended with gruesome records produced the ability to defeat an FCS opponent and maintain a glimmer.
Here is what I was ready to write Saturday in anticipation of UConn's victory: Through the lucidity of hindsight's goggles, the decision to open the season at Fresno was stupid. A program already in need of a talent transplant that hasn't played for two years ... opts to fly 3,000 miles for a morning kickoff in a city whose average August temperature is 97 degrees. Expected rate of success? Think Gen. Custer.
Instead, Holy Cross should have been the season opener. Home game at The Rent against an FCS opponent, the difference between a reverse somersault with 2 1/2 twists into the deep end of the Pacific and the Nestea Plunge into the nearby lagoon.
Losing in Fresno soured everybody on the program all over again, hearkening that classic postgame rant from Dennis Green: They are who we thought they were. It fueled the yelping of the alarmists and their compulsory I-told-you-sos. Even the folks who often wrap themselves in the UConn flag began to disrobe.
Here's a sampling of opinions about the Huskies from people who actually support the program. This is a thread from The Boneyard, the go-to message board for all things UConn, on whether to attend Saturday's game with Holy Cross:
"Why would a sane person show up? The only bright side of how bad we are is that if you are concerned about catching COVID, it won't be hard to find seats in empty portions of the stadium."
"I might show with a paper bag on my head. The question is do I cut out eye holes and suffer the pain."
"This game in an odd way is bigger than BCS Championship as UConn football is fighting for survival. If they lose to Holy Cross, oh my, the chorus for ending the football program will be deafening. Am I being hyperbolic? Probably, but this game is huge — UConn has to win convincingly."
"The only people left going to games are family, friends, and masochists."
"Let's all hope (the attendance) is under 5k. Have to send a message, both to the coach and the AD. Attendance is a privilege not a right."
Turns out the alarmists were right.
And so was UConn's decision to hitch its wagon to basketball. It actually looks prescient. Because if you can't beat Holy Cross at home and you are 3-23 in your last 26 games, you are wasting time and resources that could be going elsewhere.
Sorry. There is no joy in writing this. College football can be — and should be — fun. This is not fun. The home stadium is comatose. The program is a social media punchline. It's doing nothing for UConn's brand that Jim and Geno took from rubble and sculpted meticulously.
A sampling of UConn coach Randy Edsall after the game:
"We just didn't play very well. It's disappointing. Congrats to Holy Cross. We've just got to work to get better and clean up mistakes. ... We'll evaluate the film and if there's things we think can make us better from a personnel standpoint, we'll do that."
More Edsall: "I'm disappointed. I thought we'd be able to do a little bit more and it's up to me to figure it out. ... Everyone has to understand playing this game isn't easy. We've got to execute at a higher level. We're not good enough to put ourselves in situations where we are turning the ball over and giving away points. We've got to work to keep getting better. That's all I know how to do."
The problem: Is the time that will be required for this rescue mission worth the time and resources? Is it honestly permissible given independent status, an empty home stadium 20 minutes from campus, statewide indifference and the lingering specter of a loss to Holy Cross — on top of a 3-23 record since 2018?
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro