Saturday, January 20, 2007

Remembering Tom McCormack

Longtime Register sportswriter Tom McCormack passed away at age 77 yesterday. Tom was truly one of a kind. Gruff on the exterior, he was actually caring and kind; a brilliant writer, an intellectual and without a doubt one of the funniest men I've had the pleasure of knowing.

I grew up reading the Register sports page every morning. Tom was the paper's baseball writer, so I read just about everything he wrote. But I knew nothing of the man behind the byline until I started working at the paper. It was my first night as a part-time editorial assistant in the sports department. My job was basically to take high school scores over the phone, and I was overwhelmed. The phones were ringing off the hook, and I had just received a 5-minute crash course on the confusing computer system. It was 1995, but the computer network was running on technology from roughly the early '70s.

Needless to say, I had no clue what I was doing. A few minutes before deadline, I answered a call. The gravely voice on the other end only said, "Is Southern in the system?"

"Excuse me?" I replied.


Of course, I had no clue at the time that Tom had just filed his Southern Connecticut story and was calling to see if it had showed up in our computer system. I guess looked fairly baffled, because one of the more experienced guys asked who was on the phone. I said "It's Tom McCormack, and he's, umm, upset." That got a few laughs as I transferred the call to someone else.

Tom retired about eight months later, but oddly that's when I started to see him around the office all the time. He was doing freelance stuff almost everyday, and you always knew when he arrived. You'd hear his unmistakable voice boom something like, "The sky is the color of death, and Connecticut drivers don't have their headlights on!"

Tom loved food, and I mean loved it. He always talked about his most recent meal. And it seemed like he knew every greasy spoon on the eastern seaboard. I was traveling quite a bit covering Yale sports, and Tom would always ask where I was headed that particular weekend.

"Going to Colgate, Tom."

"Phil's Diner, Route 17. Try the MEATLOAF!"

Tom was also notorious for arriving several hours early to events he was covering. I remember a men's and women's basketball doubleheader at the University of New Haven a few years back. Tom was writing the women's game at 4:30, I was writing the men's game that started at 7. I got a call around 3:30.

"Chipper! I'm at UNH, where are you?"

"Tom, your game hasn't even started yet."

"Well, make sure you don't eat before you come over," Tom said. "They have a six-foot sandwich and chocolate chip cookies the size of manhole covers!"

Tom, you will be missed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A glimpse at the future

The January recruits met the media this afternoon at the Burton Complex. Tyler Lorenzen, Jarrell Miller, Aaron Bagsby and Corey Stringer answered all our questions and provided a glimpse of what the Huskie faithful will be in store for over the next few seasons. I think you'll all be pleasantly surprised. Seth Fogarty also spoke about an initiative he started called "Project Haiti". It is a noble cause, and one that deserves its own blog entry.

The full story on the recruits will be in tomorrow's paper, but here's a few observations and quotes in the mean time.

  • Tyler Lorenzen looks, acts and speaks like a quarterback. He says he molds himself after Brett Favre, which certainly can be a good thing. He's also going to take the bull by the horns this spring. Asked about the situation with D.J. and Dennis Brown right now, Lorenzen said, "Having a bunch of guys who can play at one position is great thing. The bottom line is it's about wins. I'm a new guys here. I understand that. But we want the best opportunity to win games. I came here to play, but I also came here to win. That's what matters. The awkwardness goes away real quick once you get to know people and once you understand how people are. You become friends. Football is a game and it's something we all love."

  • Lorenzen said he's knee-deep into the UConn playbook, but there are a lot of similarities between it and what he ran at Palomar. "We ran a spread offense at Palomar. But it's the same concepts but different language. Im learning the language, and thinking UConn football."

  • All four mentioned UConn's facilities are superior to anything they've encountered anywhere. The phrase "I was blown away" was used often.

  • Randy Edsall mentioned how much he was impressed with Lorenzen's accuracy on tape. He also mentioned the intangibles, like Lorenzen's natural leadership ability and the fact that he has a real grasp of the position and its nuances.

  • Is UConn football well known on the west coast? "The Big East is on the map," Lorenzen said. "Anyone who watched any college football this season knows that. Going 5-0 in bowl games speaks volumes.

  • Jarrell Miller is listed at 6-foot-3, 267 pounds. Folks, he's a middle linebacker. Read that again. 267 pounds! Edsall said if Miller shows he can play the position effectively at that weight, he can stay there. Sounds like there's been some talk of a move to defensive end, but expect the coaches to make Miller shed a few pounds if needed to remain at linebacker.

  • Sounds like Miller is a pretty intense dude on the field. "When I step on that field, I go crazy," Miller said. "I start foaming at the mouth. I like to yell when I make a play. When my teammates make a play I yell. My attitude toward football is that football is one of the things in my life that has kept me alive. I don't want to disrespect it or take it for granted because in an instant it can be taken away and you never play again. I go hard every day because any day could be my last day."

  • Miller didn't exactly enjoy the military lifestyle at Fork Union. He wanted to enroll in college in January, and was even considering Division I-AA or Division II schools if it had to be. But UConn coaches Hank Hughes and Todd Orlando talked Miller into visiting campus in December, and it was love at first sight. Miller admitted there were some friends and other forces trying to talk him out of going to "a basketball school". But this, he said, was what he wanted and a decision he made for himself.

  • Corey Stringer has been cleared to participate in spring practice. He suffered an ACL tear not long after committing to UConn last winter, and has been rehabbing it ever since. He said he will be 100 percent.

  • Las Vegas native Aaron Bagsby is freezing his tail off. Aaron, this has been a mild winter. It will only get worse!

  • Bagsby was getting interest from UConn while in high school, but felt the need to attend a prep school to get bigger and stronger. He made 85 tackles and four picks while playing most of the season with a broken thumb. I like the toughness. He's an athlete who also played wide receiver, running back, returned kicks and punts and even punted in high school. He was also a track star.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

There used to be an aesthetically unpleasant arena here

Another piece of my childhood turns into a pile of rubble this weekend. The New Haven Coliseum, where as a lad I watched countless hockey games, pro wrestling cards and rock concerts, will finally be put out of its misery Saturday at 7:30 a.m. They're even giving away free coffee and donuts atop the Temple Street garage for those who want to witness the execution...I mean, implosion.

The Coliseum was ordered closed in 2002 by Mayor John DeStefano, who said the building would be imploded within six months. Instead, it has sat on Orange Street split open and gutted like a dying marlin on a gaff, its insides exposed to every passing motorist on the Route 34 connector. I drive past it every day on my way to work, and I can't help but gawk and wonder how this was determined to be the best course of action. The Coliseum was old, it was unsightly, but it still drew hundreds of thousands per year into downtown New Haven. Why not renovate or construct a new venue?

Once demolition is complete some sort of redevelopment is scheduled that, using the city's timeline for tearing down the Coliseum, will probably be completed around the year 2050. The redevelopment plan includes things like parking lots, relocation of Gateway Community College and the Long Wharf Theater, housing units and maybe a retail store or two. You know, things that will really make the city a destination place. There's no plan for another arena, not even a scaled-down, 5,000-seat venue that could house the Yale hockey program (which sells out 3,500-seat Ingalls Rink every game) while attracting concerts and shows to draw folks downtown year-round. I'm beginning to think the mayor doesn't like sports. Oh, wait. There is the 15,000-seat Connecticut Tennis Center. Of course, it sits unused for 51 weeks every year.

My point, however, isn't to bore you with politics. I wanted to bore you with more reminiscing and stories of the old days. (Why do I feel like the Al Bundy of bloggers?) Without further ado, here are my top 10 memories of the New Haven Coliseum.

10. Harlem Globetrotters. My first trip to the Coliseum was in 1981 when our Cub Scout troop got tickets for the Globetrotters. This was back in the day of Curly Neal and Geese Ausby, when the Globetrotters used to make at least one appearance on ABC's Wide World of Sports each season. I don't remember much from the game, but I know I enjoyed it if only because I saved the ticket stub and still have it in an old shoebox.

9. High school basketball. I've watched plenty of games from the Coliseum, but never got the chance to compete there. In fact, I missed it by one season. The year after I graduated from Amity, there was a two-day high school basketball festival at the Coliseum that featured a bunch of area schools (including Hillhouse, West Haven and Amity) as well a couple of top New York City schools. Christ the King of Middle Village, N.Y. had two future NBA players in Khalid Reeves, who had already committed to Arizona, and Derrick Phelps, who was heading to North Carolina. Tolentine High of the Bronx also had a pair of Division I players in Adrian Autry (Syracuse) and Brian Reese (North Carolina). How's that for a headliner? I settled in to watch four or five games in two days, but remember thinking the entire team how I'd much rather be out on the Coliseum court.

8. Fairfield vs. Syracuse men's basketball, Jan. 1986. This was a great opportunity to see a powerhouse Syracuse team that featured some of the top players of the last two decades. I still remember the starting five: Rony Siekaly, Pearl Washington, Sherman Douglas, Rafael Addison and Wendell Alexis. I also got a kick out of seeing Jim Boeheim, who I always thought looked more like a nerdy NASA scientist than basketball coach. The Orangemen, needless to say, won in a rout.

7. David Lee Roth. By the time my parents thought I was old enough to attend a Van Halen concert, DLR had already left the group. This was 1987, long before Diamond Dave went off the deep end and thought he could pull off being a jazz singer, work as an EMT and replace Howard Stern as a morning DJ. He was still popular and touring solo on his "Eat 'Em and Smile" tour when he hit the Coliseum that fall. More than the music, I remember the stunts -- Dave made a dramatic entrance, cruising in about 100 feet above the crowd while standing on a surfboard that was hooked to cables. He also appeared out of nowhere inside a boxing ring in the middle of the arena for a song or two.

6. Fight night with the Beast. When I was hired full-time at the Register in February 1999, I was informed I would become the beat writer for the Beast of New Haven -- the last American Hockey League franchise to call the Coliseum home. But I only got to see a handful of games because the Beast (and their hideous multi-colored uniforms) left New Haven when the season ended two months later. But I vividly recall a game that featured over 200 combined penalty minutes, many coming from the Beast's 6-foot-7, 230-pound bruiser Peter Worrell. Worrell was an intimidating fellow --- WWE wrestler Triple-H met him before a card that season and told him "I wouldn't want to tangle with you" -- who wasn't afraid to fight. On this night Worrell got three separate majors for fighting before finally being disqualified. There must have been eight or nine fights in the third period alone.

You didn't mess with Peter Worrell

5. Huey Lewis and the News. My first concert. I was 13, and got to tag along with my older sisters and a couple of older cousins in 1985 to catch the "Sports" tour. It was a great show, and the first time I saw the Coliseum filled. It was also the loudest place I'd ever been. I remember fans starting a wave before the show, which had 100 percent participation, before the band came out playing "The Heart of Rock'N Roll". After writing this, I'm going to break out my Huey Lewis and the News CD for the first time since about '89.

4. Yale-Cornell hockey, 2001. I was covering the Bulldogs for the Register when I got a call from Steve Conn, Yale's director of sports publicity, about 2 hours before faceoff. He said there was a problem with the ice freezing system at Ingalls Rink, and the game was being switched to the Coliseum. It turned out to be one of the most exciting games I've ever seen. Cornell was ranked in the top 10 in the nation, but a young Yale team took them to overtime tied at 0-0. Time was running out in the extra session when Nick Deschenes, a rugged forward who was an arm-wrestling champion and competed in lumberjack contests in his native Alberta, scored the game-winner. The crowd, about 4,000 strong, absolutely erupted. I almost never get caught up in games I'm covering, but I caught myself pumping my fist after the goal.

3. Hulkamania runs wild. I was a pro wrestling freak while in junior high school...watched WWF broadcasts every Saturday morning, caught the live cards on MSG Network and even bought wrestling magazines. And of course, I went to the Coliseum whenever the WWF came to town (which seemed like once a month, but I could be wrong). The Wild Samoans, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper were my favorites, and I saw them all live. But Hulk Hogan was never on any Coliseum cards, at least until they finally got him there in November 1984. Even my dad, not exactly a wrestling fan, decided he had to see the Hulkster (my older cousins used to bring me to shows) and it was worth it. Hogan was such a commanding presence, the crowd just went ballistic the second they started to play his music. He demolished "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff in a few minutes, flexed those ridiculous poses, put his hand to his ear and marched around pointing at random people. It was awesome, and even though I gave up on wrestling a long, long, long time ago I'd still pay to see it all again.

2. New Halen: Live Without a Net, August 1986. I've mentioned before on this blog that Van Halen is my favorite band of all-time. So naturally, seeing them live for the first time was a major event. I was 14, and it was the first concert I went to unsupervised, just myself and a couple of friends. Sammy Hagar was the new guy in the group, and the band dubbed it the New Halen Coliseum. The show was taped for a live DVD, called "Van Halen, Live Without a Net", which I own and still watch every now and again, scanning the crowd in a vain attempt to spot myself (with no luck). The band also performed "Best of Both Worlds" live for the MTV Video Music Awards that night via satellite, a video that ran for years on MTV.

1. American Gladiators, October 1991. Remember when this show was on TV every Saturday afternoon? In 1991, they decided to go on a live arena tour. As part of the show, they auditioned local athletes in each city to compete against the likes of the professional gladiators, who went by names like "Ice", "Blaze" and "Zap". This was a special night because my younger sister Mia was selected as one of four women to compete against the pros.

She was a freshman playing volleyball at Albertus Magnus College, and practice one afternoon was cancelled because the gym was being used to audition for the live American Gladiators show at the Coliseum the following month. On a lark, she decided to tryout. The producers loved her, and picked her to do battle. It became an exciting, emotional night. Our father passed away after a long battle with cancer the night before the show. Mia decided to compete because there's no question our dad would have absolutely wanted her to. Three-quarters of the Coliseum was packed with people just from Orange, Woodbridge and Bethany who were there to support her, holding signs and going nuts whenever they announced her name.

She did quite well, too. I recall one of the pros getting in her way during "Powerball", the game where contestants tried to put a soccer ball into modified garbage cans, which were guarded by the hulking gladiators who did everything short of full roundhouse punches to knock the contestants away. After a few unsuccessful attempts to juke her way to points, Mia, doing her best Earl Campbell impression, decided to run right through whoever got in her way. The gladiator who tried to tackle her bounced off my sister like a rag doll and was knocked unconscious in the process. They even had to halt the contest to give the gladiator smelling salts and scrape her up off the Coliseum floor (while I howled in delight and yelled stuff like "That's right, Nitro! Mess with the bull and you get the horns!"). Guess all those neighborhood tackle football games in our backyard growing up paid off. It was impressive, and a memorable evening for sure.

Feel free to post your own Coliseum memories. I know I'm not the only one whose going to miss the place.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Quest for the Golden Chicken

This job certainly has its perks. The good folks at Play magazine invited me to be one of the judges for its annual best buffalo wings contest, a.k.a The Quest for the Golden Chicken. I'm not completely sure why they asked me, but I suppose the connection between sports writer and devouring massive quantities of buffalo wings seems like a natural stereotype. It's true, I have eaten my share over the years. But I wasn't about to ask questions for fear they might change their minds. I was only too happy to oblige the request.

The contest is pretty simple. Over a dozen establishments from around the state entered mounds and mounds of their signature wings, each doused with secret sauces and spices then cooked to perfection. The judges -- Chris Charist of Live Nation, Patrick Palmieri, president of Palmieri Foods and myself -- tasted and graded them all. The results will be tabulated with the winner (and the presentation of the coveted Golden Chicken trophy) to be announced in an upcoming issue of Play.

Just before the gluttony commenced, I decided to bill myself as the Simon Cowell of the competition -- ready to tell it exactly like it is by being brutally honest. But I realized it's not that easy to be a food critic. Somewhere around round eight, I started running out of different ways to describe what I was tasting. Maybe it was because the inside of my mouth had been numbed by several helpings of eyebrow-singing fire wings. Maybe it was because most of them tasted exactly the same to my untrained and blistering palate. At any rate, I went from being an insightful Simon Cowell to monotonous Randy Jackson ("these are good, dog") in about 20 minutes. I knew I should have taken notes while watching the Iron Chef.

I learned a couple of other things, too. A) There is such a thing as eating too many wings in one sitting, something I didn't think was possible as recently as five years ago. My heartburn has heartburn. Guess I'm getting old. B) No matter how many times you scrub and wash and scrub again, that hot wings smell won't completely leave your fingers for at least 24 hours. C) my breath could burn through steel. D) I won't be able to eat another wing for at least, oh, a couple of days.

Couple of other quick notes
  • UConn will introduce its early enrollees to the media at a press conference on Friday afternoon. Jarrell Miller and Tyler Lorenzen are the prize recruits.
  • Nothing new to report on the Notre Dame front. There have been discussions as to a series with UConn, but nothing concrete. Yet. But it will happen.
  • Got a correction from, of all people, my mom. Well, in a roundabout sort of way (she isn't exactly internet savvy enough to find this blog). In my last entry I mentioned how Frank Stallone sang Sinatra's "My Way" before a Vinny Paz boxing match. Turns out Paul Anka wrote the song. She mentioned that little tidbit while raving about the Paul Anka show at Mohegan Sun last week. Guess he was rocking the 60-somethings.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How 'bout a mailbag? Hmm? HMM?

Ah, the late, great Ted Knight. A brilliant comic actor, who, by the way, was born and raised in Connecticut. He graduated from Terryville High, and often mentioned his hometown and upbringing in interviews. He was, by all accounts, a prince of a guy. There's even a Ted Knight Memorial Bridge in Plymouth. I wonder if the mayor's dedication speech that day started like this..."It's easy to grin, when your ship has come in. Or you've got the stock market beat. But the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile. When his shorts are too tight in the seat."

Got a couple of emails in the last few days, so let's have at it.

Question: Chip- So, what's the FINAL word, is Jarrell Miller coming or not? The last story (I read) still left me with my doubts. Is Lorenzen going to be the savior we so desperately need? Is he really that good? Love the Ramblings ... keep up the good work.
-- Gregg Goumas, West Hartford (originally from Ansonia - a Charger back in 1985-86-87).

CM: Gregg, Jarrell hasn't returned interview requests so it's impossible for me to say what his final decision will be. However, he told Chuck Banning of the Day he had committed to Randy Edsall back in December, and his Fork Union coach confirmed as much last week. Sounds pretty solid to me. But until he enrolls, and I can't say for sure he has yet, that's all we have to go on. Incidentally, recruits Aaron Bagsby, Mike Ryan and Corey Stringer have already enrolled at UConn and will begin classes Monday.

I don't know if we can crown Tyler Lorenzen as a savior just yet. All we know is that he put up tremendous numbers playing for a top-notch junior college in California, and can run it as well as he can throw it. His coach at Palomar Community College told me back in November that he has no doubts Lorenzen has the ability to contribute right away in the Big East. I expect Lorenzen and Dennis Brown to duke it out for the job during spring practice.

Thanks for the email. As Pop Shortell would say, "Hat's Off!"

Q: Chip, any word yet on why the UConn-Navy series was cancelled? Is is true Notre Dame will be on the schedule soon? Good job with the blog.
-- Mark Jubinville, Mentor, Ohio

A: UConn didn't provide Navy with a reason, so don't expect anything other than rumor and innuendo. It was mutual, everyone at UConn says, and since Navy agreed to dissolve the contract there's no reason to doubt that. Games are cancelled for various reasons all the time. No big deal.

Notre Dame will be on the schedule soon. They agreed to play at least three games per season against Big East Conference schools (they are a member of the conference in every other sport, after all) and stated they favor the Northeastern conference schools. Expect this to become official in the coming months.

And since someone is bound to ask, UConn also has non-league home-and-home series lined up with Baylor, Northwestern, Iowa, North Carolina and Vanderbilt in the coming years.

Q: I can't believe you haven't reviewed or made mention of seeing Rocky Balboa yet. Some paisan you are.
-- Spider Rico, South Philly

A: I've been holding onto this email for about two weeks. I finally saw the movie the other night, and loved it. Better than all the others except the original. It's predictable, but incredibly well done with some terrific life messages. It never ceases to amaze me that Stallone, the man who spent much of his superstar years making garbage like Judge Dredd, Oscar and Stop! Or my Mom will Shoot! actually wrote Rocky. I've been writing my whole life and only wish I could come up with something that good. Truly spectacular.

Stallone ends the Rocky saga perfectly. The fight sequence is even terrific, although Stallone, at 60, takes off his robe to reveal his upper body is now one giant vericose vein. But if you loved the original (forget the four sequels, which, though enjoyable sans Rocky V, were cookie cutter) then you have to see the finale.

A couple of notes. Spider Rico, who was gracious enough to send me this email, makes another appearance. Spider Rico, if you need a refresher, was the guy Rocky fights and knocks out in the opening sequence of the original. He is played by a man named Pedro Lovell, a decent heavyweight whose claim to fame was being knocked out by Ken Norton on national TV in 1976 not long after filming Rocky. His only movie credits, according to, are Rocky and Rocky Balboa.

Also, Frank Stallone, Sly's little brother and one of the cheesiest dudes alive, makes another appearance. A fun game I highly recommend is attempting to spot Frank's cameos (if you can call them that) in all of the Rocky movies. It's kind of like those Where's Waldo? books. Try it next time one of the "Rocky's" is on cable. Good fun. I met Frank briefly a few years ago at Foxwoods. He was there to support Vinny Paz in his farewell fight, and sang his version of Sinatra's "My Way" to lead the Paz posse into the ring. I'm not making this up.

Frank Stallone at his cheesiest

Oh, and now that Rocky is done, Stallone has decided to bring back another popular character who is way past his prime. Yes, Rambo IV: The Pearl of the Cobra is currently in pre-production and scheduled for release in 2008. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That'll do it for today. Please keep the emails coming.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Over-rated (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)

A few pre-coffee observations on a Tuesday morning in...what month is this?

  • At least the BCS National Championship game was exciting. For the first quarter. I guess Ohio State was the product of a Big Ten Conference that was unusually weak this season. The Big Ten was 2-5 in bowl games, and both the Buckeyes and Michigan were blown out.

  • Troy Smith was the best player in college football this season? Please. West Virginia's Pat White is superior in every facet. Smith isn't even the best player on his team. Tedd Ginn Jr. left with an ankle injury and Smith (10 carries, -29 yards, 4-of-14 passing, 35 yards, one pick, five sacks) looked like a deer in the headlights.

  • Just to pick on Smith a little more... there had been talk of him going No. 1 in the NFL Draft earlier this season. But he's nowhere near NFL caliber. Monday's game proved that. He can't throw and he's not even much of a scrambler. How many times did Florida's defensive ends hawk him from behind? If you can't outrun the big guys on defense, you'd better be able to pick apart a defense. But Smith can't. He'll join Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke, Gino Torretta, Jason White, Danny Wuerffel and Eric Couch as Heisman winners in the last 13 years not good enough to contribute in the NFL.

  • Chris Myers is the biggest nerd on television. His postgame interview asking Florida receiver Dallas Baker if he wanted to propose wins the award as most awkward moment ever by a male sideline reporter. It joins Suzy Shuster asking Bill Callahan if that was one of the most satisfying dumps he's ever had, a hammered Joe Namath telling Suzy Kolber he wants to kiss her and every Lisa Guerrero interview on Monday Night Football in the pantheon of awkward sideline reporter moments.

  • How about the Big East going 5-0 in bowl games?

  • Speaking of the bowls...congratulations to, well, myself for winning the Runway bowl challenge. My 17 correct picks narrowly edged out Jim, Manny and Sturge-Rock for the top spot. Ian, with 10 correct picks, finished last. On the bright side, Ian's blog entries are much better than his college football picks.

  • Scott Brosius didn't get a single vote for the Hall of Fame. I'd still take Brosius every day of the week and twice on Sunday at third base over A-Rod. There isn't a single Yankees fan who'd disagree.

  • Be sure to catch UConn hockey captain Matt Scherer on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" this afternoon at 1 p.m. (FOX-61). I talked with Scherer about the experience for today's Register, the first edition of my college hockey notebook. Scherer does pretty well for himself on the show, and wins points in the smooth operator department by giving show host Meredith Vieira a signed hockey puck. (Now that the show is over, I can spill the beans. He won $25,000 and answered some pretty tough questions to get there). Nice job, Matt.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Anchors aweigh...Navy out, Zips in for 2007

Bon voyage, Navy. Hello Akron.

The UConn and Navy football programs have terminated a four-game contract scheduled to start this coming fall and was supposed to see the schools meet each season through 2010, according to a source.

Navy defeated UConn 41-17 on Sept. 30 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, the return game of a two-game contract that saw the Huskies play at Navy in 2002. The new contract was slated to start this Nov. 10 at Rentschler, with two games there and two at Annapolis, Md.

According to the source, UConn will replace the Midshipmen with Akron this fall. Whether the game will be played on Nov. 10 is still undecided, but Rentschler Field will definitely be the site. UConn is still searching for opponents to replace Navy in 2008, 2009 and 2010, meaning the Akron game is almost certainly a one-year deal. An official announcement is expected to be made once the contract is finalized.

Navy has replaced UConn with a game at Bowling Green on Nov. 10.

Why the series with Navy was cancelled is unclear. One rumor was the Middies double-booked a date in 2008 and decided to drop the Huskies, which facilitated the other games being terminated. Another says it was UConn (perhaps still smarting from the September thrashing) that initiated the split. Both, however, are unfounded. For the time being, the reason for the split remains unknown.

The Huskies non-conference schedule for next season is now as follows (with 2006 records in parenthesis): Sept. 1 at Duke (0-12); Sept. 8 vs. Division I-AA Maine (6-5); Sept. 15 vs. Temple (1-11); Sept. 22 at Virginia (5-7) and vs. Akron TBA (5-7). Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 11-37.