Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Charlotte-bound: UConn accepts bid to Meineke Bowl

Pretty exciting stuff today. The entire football team attended this afternoon's press conference. Will Webb of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, via speaker phone, offered. Randy Edsall accepted. The players erupted in applause. It's a big deal. Had the Huskies wound up in Birmingham or Toronto, they would have had a team meeting prior to the press conference and been instructed by coaches to sound excited. But genuine enthusiasm to play an ACC team.

Some notes from what's turning into a long day...

  • I talked to Webb after the press conference for perhaps the 15th time in the last two weeks (yes, I think he's sick of me). He sounds as if he's hasn't slept since last Tuesday, and he expects his phone to be blowing up for several more hours. Anyway, Webb said his committee's vote between UConn and Cincinnati wasn't unanimous. "But it was lopsided in favor of UConn," Webb said.

  • I asked Webb why UConn? "The simple fact is they finished in sole possession of second place in the Big East," Webb said. "We've been looking at UConn and had our eye on them for several years. They rated high in fan support, though I don't think it's a significantly higher number than Cincinnati. Maybe a few thousand. But we looked at all kinds of things; head-to-head, overall record, conference record. The fact that the Charlotte Bobcats (of the NBA) play two home games in three days, with (ex-UConn center) Emeka Okafor playing in both those games is an extra draw. The tie-breaker between the two schools was UConn finished higher in the conference."

  • An opponent for the Huskies will be selected and announced on Sunday. Wake Forest seems to be the favorite. Georgia Tech, Florida State and Maryland are also possibilities. If I had to give odds, it would be Wake Forest 3-2; Georgia Tech 5-1; Florida State 8-1 and Maryland 25-1. I have no clue how to determine odds, but I think the pecking order is correct.

  • None of the players seemed to care who the opponent was. Most weren't even sure who was bowl eligible from the conference.

  • Tyler Lorenzen played on two bowl teams while at Iowa State (making the trip to the Independence Bowl and the Houston Bowl). "I wasn't nervous at all," Lorenzen said of the past couple of days. "I knew whatever bowl it was, it would be great. It'll be a fun experience."

  • Dan Davis is too much. Asked if they knew they would end up in Charlotte, he said, "We talked about it on Sunday. Coach had no idea. We talked about it like, where are we going to end up. I know there were a couple of places we didn't want to end up." Jeff Hathaway and Randy Edsall both turned a little pale, and when someone asked which places he didn't want to end up, Edsall took a step forward and whispered something to Davis. I didn't hear it, but guess it was something along the lines of "you better talk your way out of this or you'll be running extra laps this weekend". True to form, the ever quick-witted Davis said, "Here. We didn't want to end up here." Hilarious. Davis is the best.

  • The Meineke Bowl requires schools to sell 12,500 tickets, up from the 8,000 of the Motor City Bowl. Hathaway and Edsall are confident UConn can rattle that off no problem. To be honest, I've received a bunch of emails from readers who mentioned they'd be heading to Charlotte, or anywhere for that matter. Edsall says he expects closer to 20,000 to head down. As Edsall said, this game isn't just for this year. It's for future years. Bowls take note of how well a school travels, and it could lead to bigger and better things. Also, it's an easy trip. Bradley, LaGuardia, JFK, Newark and even White Plains offers direct flights. Hotels are insanely cheap compared to most cities that size. And there's a lot to do. UConn just stresses that if you buy tickets, to purchase them through the school. Call 1-800-GO-UCONN for more info.

  • Edsall admitted there were some anxious moments over the last few days. He said they pretty much knew the Sun Bowl was out, making Charlotte the only real goal. Edsall called Webb and George Johnson to plead his case. Apparently, Webb listened because they chose based on the season. Both played the same conference schedule. UConn finished ahead of Cincinnati. "I was hoping they would do the right thing and look at the total body of work," Edsall said. "Finishing second in the conference is not an easy thing to do, and these guys should be rewarded for it. In the end, good things happen to good people."

  • Nothing is set in stone, but Edsall expects UConn to leave for Charlotte on the evening of the 24th, and spend Christmas in Carolina.

  • Will this help with recruiting? No doubt, Edsall said. "With recruiting, I know how cut throat it can be," Edsall said. "It helps to be going to the third selection Big East bowl as opposed to fourth or fifth when we finished second in the league. I know the competition would have used that against us for sure."

  • Charlotte has treated UConn well over the years. The Huskies men's soccer team twice played in the College Cup (college soccer's version of the Final 4) in Charlotte, winning a national championship in 2000 in the same stadium (then known as Eriksson Stadium). Okafor plays for the Bobcats, and takes on two ex-UConn players the week of the Meineke Bowl. On Wednesday, Washington and Caron Butler will be in town. On Friday, New Orleans and Hilton Armstrong take on the Bobcats.


Blogger Ian said...

After reading the message boards today, I am sure the Cincy fans aren't happy about this at all.

All I can and will say to them is do you need a tissue.

November 27, 2007 6:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What the heck ever happened to the Register website? The new site is big, slow and clueless, not unlike Hasheem Thabeet. Why aren't your stories updated more often?

November 28, 2007 7:37 AM 

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