In a tough location away from the sun and heat of the southeast, we have the Connecticut Huskies. They are an FBS outlier in the northeast does not really fit with any conference after the dissolution of the Big East as a football conference.
They have been able to join the AAC and are slowly turning things around with the future looking much brighter than in previous seasons. Alas, it is still not quite the destination job of Houston and may never be able to reach that level.
How does the Connecticut head coaching job stack up versus other jobs in the AAC?
- Two Big East championship and trip to a BCS Bowl. We could mention that it was a down year for the conference and all, but a trip to the Fiesta Bowl still counts.
- Basketball history. I know, basketball should have nothing to do with a football hire. At Connecticut, it does because basketball got them in the Big East.
- Fans will show up. Looking at the last five years, Connecticut has an average attendance of 31,591. That is above Houston, Memphis, and about 250 per game less than Cincinnati during that time span.
- It's raining benjamins. The Huskies have an athletic budget of just over $70 million, ranking them 40th nationally. They spent nearly $20 million more than any other G5 program.
- P5 teams will come to town. Since going FBS in 2000, Connecticut has hosted most of the ACC, Baylor, Iowa State, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, and Vanderbilt. They have home games coming up versus Virginia, Syracuse, Missouri, Boston College, Illinois, and NC State in the next eight seasons.
- Location. When you ask Trip Advisor what to do in Storrs, not many options come up. It is no Houston, Orlando, or Philadelphia.
- Not really a stepping stone job. Skip Holtz had to leave Connecticut and work at South Carolina for five years before getting a sniff at a FBS job. Randy Edsall turned arguably the best time in UConn football into a doomed job at Maryland. Maybe Bob Diaco can change perceptions.
- Tough conference play. The Huskies would have to get through Temple, South Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Central Florida to win the AAC East. It is hard to put Connecticut higher than fourth in the division heading to any season.
Making the case for why it should be ranked higher: Aman Kidwai, Site Manager, The UConn Blog:
The benefit of being the head coach at UConn is the opportunity for upside, and to live in a civil region of the country.
Lots of people like to say that UConn has no shot at being good ever. But I imagine that has been said about Oregon, Boise State, Louisville, Temple, West Virginia, and others. Even in the American northeast, an area admittedly not in love with college football, there are always sports fans ready to back a winner, and at some point or another schools like Syracuse and Boston College have been very good so there is some precedent.
So why not UConn? Take us to the promise land (good enough at football to gain entry to a power five conference) and we'll gladly immortalize you with a statue at our stadium.
If you group New York + New England, the region produces a decent amount of talent, contrary to popular belief. UConn is also not too far from talent-rich New Jersey, where the state school offers a vastly inferior education and little hope for athletic success given the school's history. Comparatively, UConn has a large fanbase, built on the success of men's and women's basketball. Those people will happily attend football games en masse if there is an exciting team in place to support. The potential is there, which is why Notre Dame's defensive coordinator and former winner of the Broyles Award for best assistant in the country decided to take this job.
Speaking pragmatically, Connecticut is also a great place to raise a family, with some of the strongest public schools in the country, great private school options, and hundreds of excellent universities in a 90-mile radius, including a top-20 state school with an awesome campus and great sports teams.
If you were playing NCAA football in an online dynasty...
You are a Huskies basketball fan and have to make do since they stopped making NCAA Basketball about six years ago. You do not care for the flashy offenses that populate college football and want a team that plays good defense and runs the football. You are definitely more of an old school player.
Also, your goal in game is to get UConn to the level of joining the ACC, Big 12, or even the SEC and one day ruling that conference.
If you choose this job in real life...
You like the challenge of playing in a cold weather state and attempting to get recruits from the talent rich Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. Some sort of connection to the northeast or Connecticut in general would be even better.
The school is willing to shell out lots of money and give you everything you need to be successful. This job is not a two years and move on type of job. You really have to prove your worth as a head coach to get a P5 team to notice.
The athletics budget alone is a big deal, but the football team will always be the third most important team on campus behind mens and womens basketball. Ego has to be put aside for someone to seriously consider taking this job.
Recruiting in general is hard, but not impossible, and it is possible to get quality players to come play for the Huskies. Top recruits signing to come to Storrs is tough as evidenced by AAC recruiting rankings of 10, 11, and 12 since helping to form the conference.
Coaching at UConn does not have the pitfalls of Tulane or Tulsa, but does not have the same ceiling as Temple or even SMU.