Conference realignment has brought an end to a number of great rivalries. Texas vs. Texas A&M, Syracuse vs. West Virginia, and Nebraska vs. Oklahoma all come to mind. Now, conference realignment has claimed another great rivalry.
This Saturday the Civil ConFLiCT comes to an end, with the final scheduled meeting between UCF and UConn. The end of an all too brief era.
UCF and UConn have never been natural rivals. So it was only natural that their rivalry was contrived in the head of a career 11-26 head coach. The coach? Former UConn head coach, Bob Diaco.
His rational was simple. It would be beneficial for the conference to have more rivalries, to drum up fans. At the time, UCF was coming off of multiple conference titles. UConn’s only win the previous season was over UCF. It was a North vs. South match-up. The two campuses are only a bit over 1,200 miles apart, like all traditional rivals.
Diaco thought the rivalry would be a good idea, so he and UConn went ahead and made the trophy, named the rivalry, and put in a countdown clock until the game. The name? The Civil ConFLiCT. Get it? Like the Civil War, with the state abbreviations in capital letters.
UConn just fired coach Bob Diaco, best known for his attempted creation of the 'Civil ConFLiCT' rivalry— ucf probs (@ucf_problems) December 26, 2016
For what it's worth, I liked it pic.twitter.com/1OXQKSrPLc
UCF was not consulted, and had no interest in making the game into a rivalry.
Fortunately, for the Civil ConFLiCT, the year was 2015, and UCF went winless. UCF didn’t just go winless, they were dominated all season. That includes when UConn traveled to Orlando, and won 40-13.
The Huskies got to celebrate with their trophy.
Then came 2016, a monumental season for the Civil ConFLiCT. UCF won on Rentschler Field, and got to party in East Hartford. They chose to do that partying without the Civil ConFLiCT Trophy.
UCF left the trophy on the field. It was last seen being taken away by a student employee of the UConn athletics program.
Terrible shot from press box but there on end of bench at 40 yd line, that's Civil ConFLiCT trophy 10 min after game... pic.twitter.com/qd7tZbNHKE— Mike Anthony (@ManthonyCourant) October 23, 2016
A rivalry with a missing trophy? Sounds like an amazing piece of college football lore!
2016 was also the season UConn sent Bob Diaco packing. It’s actually rumored that Diaco took the trophy with him as he moved onto his next failed venture as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator. That’s because UConn says they don’t know where it is, and that Diaco is the one who paid for it anyways.
It would only be right for the Civil ConFLiCT trophy to be on Diaco’s mantle. I like to think he even updates it, etching each season’s score onto its side.
The next season was 2017. For UCF, that meant an explosion of success. For UConn, their steady decline rode on. UCF won 49-24. Then, the Knights won again in 2018 by a score of 56-17.
During that time, no one has had more than a few jokes to say about the rivalry. That is until the spring of 2019, when UConn announced they would be leaving the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies are headed to the Big East for most sports, and Independence for football.
That brought a startling end to a great rivalry. Just as 2019 will be UConn’s final season in the AAC, it was also be the last scheduled meeting between these two rivals. After Saturday, the Civil ConFLiCT is a rivalry game lost to history.
Sure, UCF and UConn could schedule each other in out of conference games going forward. It’s not impossible. Nebraska and Colorado just played a home and home, after all. Still, the rivalry wouldn’t be the same. All that would come from it would be a series of thought pieces on why trying to develop rivalries in a lab doesn’t work. How these things simply need to form naturally over time.
There will never be another rivalry like the Civil ConFLiCT.
Currently, UCF leads the all time series 4-2. The Knights are riding a 3 game winning streak in the series. Uniquely, for a rivalry, the average point margin in games between UCF and UConn is a whopping 25.3 points per game. The spread for this Saturday opened at UCF-40.
The Knights are also coming off of their first regular season loss since 2016. They’ll look to make a statement.
Expect another Civil ConFLiCT blowout.