UConn should return to lower football division
Now that the University of Connecticut is returning to the “Glory Days” of the Big East Conference, what happens to the football program that has been so dreadful over the past few years? Some say new conference affiliation, such as the Mid-American Conference, or perhaps becoming an independent program like Notre Dame. These two options are less than attractive. The MAC, although having some good programs, is not quite a good fit regionally (neither was the American Athletic Conference that UConn is leaving) and the University of Massachusetts’s decision to go independent has turned out to be dreadful.
What’s left, and probably the most reasonable choice, is a return to the FCS (Football Championship Series) or I-AA as previously dubbed. Now, I know, many college football fans believe that the FCS level of play is sub-par and less entertaining. In fact, this level is just as popular and has just as fervent a fan following as many of the FBS (Football Bowl Series) schools. In many cases, these FCS teams have more rabid fans.
This division of college football has an actual end of the season tournament that selects the champion from on the field of play, not selected by committee. I would rather watch the tournament and experience the level of competition and drama that tournament play brings. In other words, FCS football is nothing about which to be ashamed. Remember the annual “upsets” when FBS and FCS schools compete at the beginning of each season.
Regionally, the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Rhode Island, Stony Brook University, Villanova University, Towson University, University of Delaware and Georgetown University field FCS football teams. Some of these teams could provide stiff competition for UConn’s football program now.
Fewer scholarships, reduced travel costs and better attended football games are some of the benefits to consider when a true analysis is performed.
The purpose of supporting a college athletic program is to provide student athletes with the opportunity to develop their talents by playing competitive games in well-funded facilities and to expand their horizons. Also, the creation of an experience that students, alumni and fans will enjoy time after time, providing impetus to donate annually and enhance the chances for success.
The bottom line is that everybody loves success and being relevant, no matter the level of competition. When one analyzes the future of UConn football with one’s brain and not one’s heart, it is an easy decision. The difficult part will be finding a regional FCS conference that has a vacancy to fill. Much good luck in getting football back on track.
Ed Keens is a fan of UConn sports and collegiate sports generally. He has one son who graduated from UConn and one currently attending the school. He lives in East Lyme.