Earlier this month, UConn unveiled a trophy for their, ahem, “rivalry” with UCF, which was news to the latter as the Knights had — and still don’t have — anything to do with the trophy attached to what’s being described by the Huskies as “The Civil Conflict.”
Needless to say, the one-sided “rivalry,” which has been contested all of two times in the programs’ histories, drew the derision of fans and media alike all across the country.
During a conference call, UConn head coach Bob Diaco, the engineer driving the “rivalry,” was asked about the kerfuffle he caused a week or so ago. Diaco, who because of the trophy had people talking about UConn football in June for what was likely the first time in its history, very vigorously defended a concept that, so far, has only been embraced by one of the two sides.
From the Hartford Courant‘s detailing of Diaco’s impassioned defense:
“Rivalries need to start somewhere. Somebody calls out somebody, and I think it’s fun and exciting. I think it’s definitely going to add a layer of energy and excitement to our [next] contest. I don’t think there’s any way you can argue that even if it’s just a small, little amount. Whether the trophy is honored, it’s honored by us, so you don’t have control over that, so who cares? They don’t get to say whether they’re our rival or not. We might not be their rival, but they don’t get to say whether they’re our rival. That’s for us to decide, so for us it’s plain and clear, because those are things we have control over.
“I think it’s fun. If you embrace it, you embrace it. If you don’t you don’t, there was nothing before, so if you don’t embrace it there would still be nothing, and if you do even a little bit, it’s more energetic and exciting. And to me that’s what college football is. College football is intercollegiate and rivalries and challenges and fun storylines.”
“Yeah, here’s the deal,” he said. “Why do I have to call their athletic department to say we’ve got them targeted as our rival, period? What control over that would they have? And what do I care what they think … If they don’t want to honor our rivalry and we’re not their rival, that’s on them. I don’t control what they want. They don’t want to be a part of the trophy, I don’t care about that, either.”
The Knights and Huskies have a split a pair of games, a 45-point UCF win in Orlando in 2013 and a nine-point UConn win in Storrs this past season, the Knights’ first-ever loss in AAC play.
The next game in the “rivalry” will be played Oct. 10, and the excitement is already palpable.
(Photo credit: UConn football)