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UConn football: forgotten, but not gone

Storrs — If you follow the rhythms of UConn sports through the state media, here is a loose summary of what you've been reading:

Here Is What Paige Bueckers Prefers For Lunch.

The Life And Times of Adama Sanogo.

How Much Dan Hurley Likes George Brett.

Geno: Cream, Sugar Or Both?

And this is in the middle of summer, when basketball is a rumor in many outposts. This suggests we have an alarming number of slow news days here in Connecticut — or there is disproportionate attention paid to one particular sport.

Now imagine UConn football, the long since forgotten autumn distraction on the Storrs campus. Football got thrown overboard during the hallowed return to the Big East, barely thrown a life preserver into the quicksand, now slogging to shore amid the quagmire of Independence.

And so it was football media day Thursday at State U, a time for Randy Edsall to deliver a State of the Union on the afterthought of UConn sports. Your humble narrator asked him if he felt UConn football has been forgotten, given the one-year hiatus and the fetish with basketball.

"We didn't play (for a year) and there wasn't a whole lot to talk about," Edsall said. "I've been here before and have been through this when we were 1-AA. I understand everything revolves around basketball. We had to go prove ourselves the first time. All of a sudden it changed. Then coming back, it's kind of the same thing."

But does it matter? UConn's Independent status has delivered it from Elba, otherwise known as the dreaded American Athletic Conference. Future schedules have sexier games — BC, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh — but if a football falls in the forest and there's no one there to catch it, does anybody really care?

"It's like anything. Keep your mouth shut and go about your business. Do your work and prove people wrong," Edsall said. "The world is what it is. My biggest thing is 'what can I do to help these kids get better?' That's my whole focus. I want to get the kids to be the best they can be as students, people and athletes and enjoy the rewards that come with playing football at UConn — and having the experiences other players have had here.

"In the world we live in it's 'what have you done for me lately?' If you do well, everybody is going to jump on the bandwagon. And then that's when everybody wants to tell you 'I was there from the beginning.' Yeah, right. (Baloney)."

Edsall was asked if there's room on the bandwagon for us heathens. He appreciated the question and flashed a wry grin.

"Yeah there is," he said. "I've never doubted what we've been doing from the moments we came back. One of the toughest jobs is getting the kids to understand to not read the newspapers. Stay off social media. You're a hero one day and then people are going to be all over you. Social media is good for some things and bad for some things. ... If we win, there will be 40,000 — actually 38,000 and change — at Rentschler Field. If we don't, there won't. That's the world we live in."

This was an entertaining Randy Edsall on Thursday. A guy who was significantly less guarded with what he said — and like a relief pitcher with nothing to lose. So he let it fly. This was good. What he said needed to be said.

Not all of us here in Connecticut care about Paige Bueckers in the middle of summer. It's summer. Beach and baseball. The promise of football. Basketball is something that happens down the road. And frankly, it's something that can't be quantified at the moment. Too many variables. It's mostly presumption and speculation. Who really cares?

So how about we give football a chance? Edsall and his staff swore Thursday that the kids have used the one-year hiatus to get bigger, stronger and more confident. It's a story worth pursuing. And one that's right in front of us.

We'll have ample time to dissect a must-win season for Dan Hurley. What may be another butt-kicking tour for Geno Auriemma. But that's for the winter. The Forgotten Sport begins practice Friday at UConn. Edsall built it from the ashes once. Can't wait to see if he does it again.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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