When you work in college football, it’s hard to admit that you had a bad idea.
If you’re a coach, it means admitting you made a bad play. If you’re a ref, it means admitting you screwed up the call. The NCAA itself is famous for this, of course, but that’s a whole other discussion.
At some point, about three years ago, former UConn head coach Bob Diaco had the realization that, apparently, rivalries were less about passionate fan bases and historical context, and more about simple marketing. If the school paid someone fifty bucks for a trophy, possibly an uncle, they could just, y’know, automatically have something equal to the Red River Showdown or The Game.
99 Percent of college football fans could’ve told UConn this was a horrendously stupid idea, but unfortunately for all of us, being the head coach means never having to say you’re sorry, and besides, the university was too busy patting itself on the back for noticing the word “Conflict” has the letters “F” and “L” next to each other in the word, for Florida, and also “CT” for Connecticut. That’s the same as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, right? I mean, look! Consonants!
Did the Huskies develop a rivalry trophy with their closest geographic “rival” Temple, a scant 230 miles away? No, they did not. What about their second closest “rival” Navy, an easy 353 miles away? No again, that’s just what we would’ve been expecting.
Nope, our friends at UConn decided to pull a reverse-ACC (a conference which put Miami and FSU in different divisions, despite being longtime rivals), picking an opponent from their own division despite being over 1,200 miles away, or four times the distance been Norman, OK, and Austin TX. This “rivalry” “celebrates” its third year of existence this weekend, in a game in which everyone but UConn seems to be aware of how meaningless the whole thing is.
And then this week, our mother site dropped this bombshell:
Very important Civil ConFLiCT Trophy update here: Bob Diaco has now disavowed his own creation, which UConn's AD claims Diaco paid for and designed himself https://t.co/wfUFEF7QK7— Morgan Moriarty (@Morgan_Moriarty) November 8, 2017
Hey, we’re an underdog site. We love all our underdogs, win or lose, and no matter what questionable decisions they might make. And like any other underdog, we’re rooting for you, UConn. Therefore, seeing how thirsty they are for a rivalry, and as UCF seemingly couldn’t care less, we’d like to offer some new rivalry ideas for UConn. We are certainly no less qualified than the former AD who has now officially, mercifully, disavowed the very silly CiViL cOnFLiCt.
New Rivalry #1
Cincinnati - CINneCT four trophy
Located 795 miles apart, the Huskies and the Bearcats first met in 2001, and Cincy currently leads the series 10-3. This certainly means more drama than UCF/UConn, which is currently tied at 2-2 all-time.
The Trophy: A Connect Four board.
New Rivalry #2
East Carolina - EC-CONomy trophy
Located 637 miles apart, the Pirates lead the all-time series 3-1. This distance is more in-line with classic rivalries, especially with UConn being in the heart of New England and ECU being on the outside looking in. Plus the imagery of a husky fighting a pirate is pretty cool.
The Trophy: A hardcover copy of “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, the first modern work of economics, because football is about academics.
New Rivalry #3
Temple - TECTonic rivalry
Finally someone in their own backyard, this rivalry combines the passions of two different northeastern states, mixed with the culture clash of the mean streets of Philadelphia meets the Connecticut Boutique. Temple leads the all-time series 12-6, but that’s no obstacle for the fightin’ Huskies. Playing with the initials, we can keep with the academic theme and reward the winner with a globe featuring a worldwide tectonic plates. Sounds like a turnt sponsor for a bowl game, imo.
The Trophy: A Global Map of Tectonic Plates
New Rivalry #4
Navy - ROWS and CONNS trophy
... cuz they’re Navy, and the Navy rows boats, right? We just wanted that one for the pun, which is much easier than typing “ConFLiCT” over and over again. Distance? 353 miles. Record? 8-1 Navy, all-time. Different AAC division, but still closer geographically than UCF. Make it so.
The Trophy: Winner gets control of the coastline.
New Rivalry #5
Memphis - CoTTN trophy
There are a lot of rivalry trophies out there, from guns to bells to gloves? i guess, but I like the idea of a trophy being a nice, sensible pair of pants. Maybe a nice khaki? This is still a sensible rivalry, as Storrs is about 1,240 miles from Memphis, or just about equal to UConn/UCF. All-time record? Memphis leads 2-1, so UConn is still in this!
The Trophy: The pants of Ernest Hemingway.
New Rivalry #6
Tulsa - All TUCT-in trophy
The trophy for this one is a nice cozy blanket, which each team will need after travelling 1,500 miles for their occasional match-ups. We say “occasional” because even though these schools have shared a conference since 2014, they’ve only met on the gridiron for the first time earlier this year, back on Oct. 21. The Huskies won, 20-14, and we’re sure the Golden Hurricane are still mad about it. A new rivalry begins!
The Trophy: A blanket purchased at 3 a.m. from the nearest Wal-mart.
New Rivalry #7
SMU - The MUSKIES Trophy
Definitely the trophy here is a musket, even though that’s already taken, or maybe losing team buys the winner a Three Musketeers bar. At any rate, these teams first met in 1989 (also the name of a Taylor Swift album, sponsors!), and SMU leads the series 4-0. I bet that makes the Huskies pretty mad. They should start a rivalry.
The Trophy: A working musket, because Texas.
New Rivalry #8
Tulane - NOCTurnal Trophy
Some sort of bat, we think? 1,450 miles celebrate these two schools, both of which are known primarily for basketball and not football. Tulane leads the all-time series 2-1, and both New Orleans and Hartford have been screwed out of professional sports teams in the last couple of decades, so they’ll have something to commiserate over.
The Trophy: The Bronze Bat trophy
New Rivalry #9
Houston - HOUCONN Rivalry
By this point we’re running out of acronyms or clever wordplay, but UConn really wants a rivalry so maybe a scratching post? These schools are just about roughly 1,776 miles from each other so maybe something patriotic, a Sea to Shining Sea trophy (the Gulf of Mexico is shiny, right?). All-time record between the schools: 1-1.
The Trophy: ‘Murrica
New Rivalry #10
New Mexico State - the NEWCONN Rivalry
Careful readers will notice New Mexico State is not, at this time, in the American Athletic Conference. But this could be really great for both schools, so hear us out. Next year, NMSU is going independent, and they really need that rivalry, possibly almost as bad as UConn. UConn, of course, seems to really want a rivalry with a school you can’t drive to in a day, so why not the Aggies? The schools reside 2,270 miles apart, and have never met in football, so what better time to start than now? UConn gets a rivalry, and NMSU gets to pad out its independent schedule with a team roughly on their level. Very roughly.
The Trophy: Much like this rivalry, something the world didn’t ask for.
New Rivalry #11
University of Washington- HUSKY BATTLE!
Both schools have a Husky as their mascot. Both are located fairly far north on the map. Even if UW weren’t feeling it, that’s not stopped UConn before, why not just announce this one on Twitter right away? As above, these schools have never met, and would be right at home in each others climate. Call your local trustee today!
The Trophy: A Husky trophy, of course.
New Rivalry #12
Northern Illinois - HUSKY BATTLE, G5 Edition!
Unhappy about the long trip to Seattle? How does 979 miles to DeKalb strike you? Still closer than UCF.
The Trophy: This slightly smaller Husky trophy.
New Rivalry #13
The Cleveland Browns - Doctor OHCTopus Trophy
Not unlike UCF, the Browns would be surprised if UConn tweeted they were now in a rivalry with the Cleveland Browns. Unlike a lot of other schools on this list, these teams actually reside closer than most (600 miles), and whichever team won, the victory wouldn’t be as big of a blowout as this Saturday, when #8 UCF hosts UConn in Orlando and embarrasses the Huskies in front of a national audience.
Now that I’ve said this, of course, UConn will likely pull a Houston and end up defeating the Knights in a miraculous upset, but that doesn’t seem likely. At the very least, one of these thirteen match-ups will make an excellent fit, and 3-6 UConn (2-4 in AAC play) will get what it wants— a way to get excited about football again.