In case you missed it this week, the University of Connecticut has a new rival, a bitter hated team with whom they've waged a fight with on the gridiron. There would be the countdown to the rivalry all year, etched on the minds and in the hearts of all who passed through the locker room on the way to the field. There would never be a doubt that THIS would be the game of the year. Just uttering their name would bring blood to a boil and faces to a flushed, sweltering hate.
Central Florida. The Civil Conflict.
That's right folks. UConn created a trophy game to take on their hated rival Central Florida this week when they announced the creation of a trophy and a countdown clock to the UCF game. With just about 100 days left until opening day, the Huskies would no longer leave doubt about what they were getting ready for as the season drew near.
There's just one problem.
Just checked w/ @UCF_Football: "We have no involvement with the trophy or creating a rivalry game with UConn." They were surprised by tweet.— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) June 1, 2015
Let's get this straight. UConn beat Central Florida last year, their only win over an FBS-level opponent. The win cost UCF the outright American Athletic Conference championship, since the Knights went 7-1 in league play for a three-way tie with Memphis and Cincinnati. UConn, meanwhile, avoided finishing outright in the basement, although their loss to SMU meant the Mustangs won the head-to-head and avoided relegation.
That means they're good enough to have a trophy game?
This is trying to fit a square peg into...well..no hole whatsoever. UConn and Central Florida have no history against each other, having only played each other in the last two years. They aren't regional rivals, and I have no idea where they came up with "Civil Conflict."
I know that my BCI comrade Grant Salzano has a very virulent and straightforward dislike for the Huskies since he is a Boston College graduate from the Nutmeg State currently living in the heart of Husky territory. I'm slightly different in the regard that I really don't feel a whole lot about the athletics down there. I don't feel much in terms of a rivalry, and I've covered UConn teams in the past. I have relationships with people who have worked for UConn athletics.
This isn't about that. This is only about the football team and something that's just a bad look.
The Huskies are trying to manufacture a rivalry, and that's commendable. They're trying to get their fans fired up, their students rallied around their program, one that's fallen way, way, way down since the demise of the Big East. After college realignment found them no natural football rival whatsoever in the American, they have no discernable marketability right now.
But to just create something for the sake of creating isn't worth it. I know Bob Diaco talked about the need to create a trophy because that's what he coached in, but that stuff needs to be built on tradition. If UConn really wanted to a trophy game, why didn't they create one with UMass? After all, there's a legitimate rivalry there, separated by 75 miles down I-91. Historical basketball rivals, it would even potentially pave a way for the Minutemen to get into the AAC, which would go a long way for their program.
On top of it all, there's usually a problem when you create a rivalry game and the other team didn't know it was a rival.
(h/t to SBNation.com for this)