Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.
This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.
While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.
The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.
Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.
Dino Babers’ reclamation of Syracuse football is paying off in other areas for the university. Maybe not in the way his administration wanted but it’s paying off nonetheless according to one new poll.
In their updated 2019 rankings, The Princeton Review has named Syracuse as the No. 1 party school in America — edging out No. 2 Alabama. Things would certainly be different when it comes to the football field with those two programs but the Orange can claim superiority to the Tide in on area at least.
The review says it takes into account “ratings concerning the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study outside of class time, and the popularity of fraternities/sororities at their school.”
Other FBS schools to make the top 20 include No. 4 West Virginia, No. 5 Tulane, No. 8 Wake Forest, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 16 Florida, No. 18 Florida State and No. 20 UConn.
Some of those make sense… others not so much. It doesn’t appear that tailgating was a big factor in the overall rankings but we’re sure that would have changed the order rather significantly for some schools.
Either way, go ahead and print up those ‘We’re No. 1’ shirts Orange fans.
One of the worst statistical pass defenses in the nation this past season will be without its most talented young defensive back thanks to classroom issues.
Earlier this week, Randy Edsall confirmed that both cornerback Ryan Carroll and running back Khyon Gillespie will not play for the Huskies at all in 2019. Per the head coach, academics are at the root of the players’ unavailability this coming season.
Of the two, Carroll’s absence will likely be the most noteworthy even given their historical ineptness in the secondary.
As a true freshman this past season, Carroll started eight of 12 games for a UConn defense that was 126th (out of 130 FBS) in passing yards per game (282.4); 128th in completion percentage allowed (71.6); tied for last in touchdown passes allowed (33); dead last in yards per attempt (10.7; next worse was Georgia State’s 9.5); and dead last in pass efficiency rating (192.6; next worse was Georgia State’s 177.1).
As for Gillespie, a two-star 2018 signee, he carried the ball once as a true freshman and ended up taking a redshirt for the season.
What was once looking like a feel-good college football story has instead taken a turn in the other direction.
In mid-October of last year, UConn redshirt junior linebacker Eli Thomas was hospitalized for an unspecified medical issue. It was subsequently confirmed by the football program that Thomas had suffered a stroke during a team weightlifting session.
Thomas eventually re-enrolled in classes for the spring semester at the university and rejoined his teammates, even as he had not yet been cleared by the program’s medical staff to resume football activities.
Tuesday, Randy Edsall confirmed that clearance will never happen, at least at this university, as Thomas has been medically disqualified from ever playing the sport again. The development comes a couple of months after the linebacker was named by his teammates as a team captain during the Huskies’ spring practice.
Thomas played in the first four games of the 2018 season before suffering a neck injury in a Week 4 loss to Syracuse. The injury sidelined the player for the next two games before suffering the stroke.
Thomas came to the Huskies after two seasons at the junior college level and took a redshirt his first season with the program as he rehabbed a torn ACL, the third of the three major knee injuries he suffered during his football career. Prior to the neck injury, the Elmira, NY, native had been credited with 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.
As expected, UConn will no longer be a member of the American Athletic Conference effective after the 2019-2020 sports seasons. The Big East-bound university and AAC agreed on the terms of a buyout that will allow the Huskies to leave the conference in all sports after the upcoming season.
UConn will pay the AAC a total of $17 million by 2026, although it is reported the school will pay a large chunk of the buyout fee over the next two years. The agreement comes after the remaining American Athletic Conference members voted to terminate UConn’s membership with the AAC beginning July 1, 2020 (the typical date for conference realignment changes to take effect).
“I want to thank David Benedict for his leadership and cooperation in reaching a swift and amicable resolution regarding UConn’s departure, and also UConn president Susan Herbst for her support of the conference,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement on Friday. “We appreciate UConn’s accomplishments in The American, we wish them the best, and we thank them for their contributions over the past six years.”
UConn is reuniting with their old Big East family in all sports but football. The Huskies will move forward as an FBS independent program with no conference currently extending an invitation to join and no conferences showing any public interest in doing so at the time. The Huskies are also working feverishly to fill the 2020 schedule and other future schedules now that they will be independent with plenty of vacancies to fill on the schedule.
It was previously reported the AAC will not look to expand its membership and will remain with 11 football members beginning in 2020.