Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Conference realignment rumors all the rage in Storrs

Less than 100 hours before he will be leading his UConn football team onto Cardinal Stadium to face preseason Big East favorite Louisville, Huskies’ head coach Paul Pasqualoni found himself outside his comfort level.

After an initial volley of questions regarding Louisville’s dynamic sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Pasqualoni faced a series of inquiries on the rumors that UConn could land in the Atlantic Coast Conference when the dust clears from the latest round of conference realignment.
With Maryland and Rutgers officially announcing that they are leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East respectively to join the Big Ten, the latest scuttlebutt is that UConn is atop the list of schools to take Maryland’s spot in the ACC while other rumors have Louisville surging to the top of the ACC poaching wish list.

Pasqualoni sounded like a philosopher at times when discussing the subject of the ever changing landscape of college athletics.

“The only thing for sure in life is change,” Pasqualoni said at Tuesday’s weekly press gathering. “It is just part of life and athletics is one segment of it. We are no different from other areas of our society; it is just a part of it. For me personally, I have such tunnel vision and I am so narrow minded. I am not proud of that. It is hard for me to focus on anything else but do everything you have to do to get yourself ready to play.

“All of these things are going to be decided on a much higher level than the head coach. I know that the people who are in charge here work very hard at to do what is best for the University of Connecticut. I have confidence in them and I put that over there and I think about ‘today is Tuesday it is (day to work on) first and second down, what are they doing, what are their play-action passes.’”

In the cutthroat world of recruiting, even the most minuscule amount of weakness can be exploited by opposing coaches going after the same players. So with the uncertainty on which conference the Huskies will be a part of in the coming years, naturally that has to be a concern when Pasqualoni and his staff hit the road for recruiting trips, right? If UConn does not land in the ACC and remains in an incredible fragile and unstable Big East, will players pass on going to a school in one of the other five power conferences who are ahead of the Big East in the BCS bowl pecking order?

Pasqualoni didn’t directly answer the question whether parents of prospective recruits have raised the issue of the current state of flux the Big East finds itself in.

“In recruiting, you are selling our product which is the academic thing first,” Pasqualoni said. “It’s an awfully-good product. It is a very highly-rated product somewhere in the top 20 or top 15 in the country. The education is just outstanding. I like to talk about where we are, it is a great atmosphere and it is a good college town, a real college campus where kids enjoy being. Kids like being on campus in Storrs that is why there are so many kids who live here. This is not a commuter school. This is a place where kids stay for the semester.

“Their development as players (is a priority). How we are going to coach them? Where we are going to coach them? What are our visions are of them, short term and long term and that is important. There are kids who envision being a good college player and being a pro player and I want to recruit those kids. That is really what we talk about in recruiting. Get your education, get your degree, and (see) where they fit, where I see them, where the staff sees them.”

Neither UConn sophomore safety Ty-Meer Brown nor senior linebacker Sio Moore seemed overly concerned about what the future has in store for the Huskies’ football program.

“We’ve gone to bowl games, we’ve played in BCS games,” Moore said. “I think we are a great school. We’ve come a long way from where we’ve been and collectively I have faith that we will be good and I think the future of the program is bright because there are a lot of guys that you guys don’t know right now that are under the radar.”

Brown watched in amazement in the last couple of days as the rumored moves by Maryland and Rutgers became a reality.
“I just heard about the stuff yesterday so it is kind of mind boggling,” Brown said. “I don’t really know what is going on right now.”

So if Brown were a high school senior right now would he have any reservations agreeing to sign with UConn even if he didn’t know which conference he would be playing in?

“No, not really,” Brown said. “It is more about feeling comfortable with the program and the players in the program.”


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