UConn football set up to fail by people who need to support it the most
There is no other conclusion to be drawn, lest you fall for UConn's disingenuousness like a mob informant into the Harlem River.
UConn football is over.
University leadership has signed the death certificate, now that headlines have emerged about State U's foray back into the Big East. And while all the poohbahs will continue their blather about how football remains important to the athletic department's future, the truth is that they have set up Randy Edsall to fail.
It's akin to a boss who wants to fire an employee but can't yet do it overtly. The boss will give the employee a demotion or an intolerable new position, thus giving the employee no other recourse but to leave.
Same deal with this purported move to be a football Independent with no bowl tie-in. Who, exactly, is UConn going to schedule? How? When? With any consistency? What would make UConn think schools would pine to play an Independent in front of 2,000 fans? How's it working out for UMass?
Plus, it's hard enough to recruit now. You think this gets easier for Edsall and his staff? What do you tell kids? "Well, we're not sure who we're playing and there's no guarantee of a bowl game, but our leadership here assures us that football is more important than a lung."
Stop. Just stop. The few, the proud who inhabit the stands now at Rentschler Field will become mere friends and relatives, issuing the slow fade into irrelevance.
And then football swirls the bowl, while university officials are spared of any hand-wringing due to circumstances beyond their control.
Let's just call it what it is: The Big Lie.
There's a plan in place for football, they'll tell us.
Football is still important, they'll tell us.
Football will have our full support, they'll tell us.
And then when the words become lies, perhaps we can identify the root cause of UConn's current malaise: bad leadership, from outgoing president Susan Herbst right on down the administrative ladder.
Straight up: The last person with a title at State U who had a plan for anything was Lew Perkins. Perkins wasn't rainbows and lollipops. But the guy never cared about anything else but making sure his people had the best of everything.
Jeff Hathaway? Remember this: If he treated Edsall with an iota of respect, Edsall would never have left for Maryland. And that — yes, that — was the first domino in UConn's collapse. Hathaway, who also left on bad terms with Jim Calhoun, subsequently hired Paul Pasqualoni to replace Edsall. Splendid.
Warde Manuel? Used UConn as a steppingstone to Michigan, but not before bringing Captain Queeg Diaco to follow Pasqualoni.
David Benedict? Extended Kevin Ollie's contract after Ollie did nothing more than show he could win with Calhoun's players. Got rid of announcer Joe D'Ambrosio after 26 years. How are those two things working out?
Now comes this Big East thing. Nice move for basketball. But athletic department people tell me Mr. Benedict's communication skills are a swing and a miss, evidenced by the number of people blindsided by news of the move to the Big East. I'm told that even some Board of Trustees members were unaware until media reports surfaced Saturday morning about the Big East.
Who's in charge here anyway?
I'm not arguing that a move to the Big East isn't welcome for basketball. Just don't urinate on Edsall's shoes and tell him it's rain. Benedict and the rest of the hierarchy have hitched the wagon to basketball. That's fine. Just end the football charade now. Because it can't possibly succeed.
UConn is a drastically different place now than the old days, folks. There was a time when Lew Perkins, Jim Calhoun, Geno Auriemma and Randy Edsall did it better than just about anyone else. They turned a regional university with a dairy barn into a national conversation piece.
And now? They're happy to be back playing Seton Hall. I guess all we need is a clip of the late Dennis Green telling us "we are who we thought they were."
A regional university with a dairy barn and two good basketball teams.
And a football program set up to fail by the very people who need to support it the most.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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