The University of Connecticut men's basketball program is at a crossroads.
Less than 20 months ago, the UConn Huskies sat atop the college hoops' world, having just dominated Butler to win the 2011 NCAA National Championship.
But the '11-12 Huskies never got things fully on track, dropping 11 of 16 games in the middle of the season.
While all this was taking place in Storrs, something bigger was happening in the Big East.
One after another, schools were picking up and moving on.
TCU and West Virginia (Big 12). Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame (ACC). Rutgers (Big Ten).
The Huskies haven't sat idly by through all of this. They have aggressively, but unsuccessfully pursued entry into the ACC. They have checked into a number of other options, but, as of today, the conference realignment train has departed and UConn is stranded in a decimated Big East.
Let's take a lightning-fast look at the pros and cons of every conference where the Huskies could land.
The Big East has tried to stay alive by raiding the Conference USA by inviting Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Tulane. Talk about a mixed bag of schools that don't seem to go together at all.
Pros: The Huskies could be a hoops dynasty.
Massive frequent flyer miles for everyone.
Get to play against Larry Brown (SMU head coach) for a year or two before he goes back into retirement.
Cons: Will there be a conference to stay in?
Cincinnati is a good program, but South Florida doesn't provide much quality in terms of a remaining school.
The arrival of Conference USA castoffs doesn't exactly inspire visions of future greatness.
The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy reported last Friday (Dec. 14) that there have been preliminary discussions for a coast-to-coast conference comprised primarily of schools from multiple conferences.
Some of the possible competing schools besides UConn would be:
- Cincinnati and South Florida from the "old Big East"
- Memphis from Conference USA
- Temple from the Atlantic 10
- Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico from the Mountain West
Pros: Blazing a new trail in collegiate athletics.
Creating new rivalries across the country.
Opportunity to select top-quality programs who are hungry and looking to upgrade.
Cons: Virtually no natural rivalries or commonality among schools.
Struggle for fans to go to away games.
This isn't your grandpa's Big Ten.
They added Penn State in the 90s. Nebraska came in 2011.
Now, this year, the conference reeled in Maryland (from the ACC) and Rutgers from (yes, the Big East).
Does the Big Ten want to go all the way up to being a 16-school conference? If so, UConn might be interested.
Pros: One of, if not the most, solid conferences in Division 1 athletics.
Great programs in every sport imaginable.
Conference hoops is one of the best in the nation just about every year—six schools are currently in the Top 25.
Cons: Little prior connection with any of the existing schools.
How far is it from Storrs, Connecticut to Lincoln, Nebraska?
Just doesn't seem like a very good fit.
The New York Daily News' Dick Weiss said it plainly and simply: "The University of Connecticut wanted to be one of the first teams out the door when the ACC realignment talks began again in 2010."
Weiss says, "Connecticut has openly lobbied for membership in the ACC twice."
Out of the possibilities, UConn seems to fit here the best.
Pros: The future of ACC hoops is mind-blowing with adding Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame to the already exceptional mix.
Postseason-like games every week.
Staying on the East Coast isn't a bad thing, is it?
Would help create a strong northern section to the conference with former Big East buddies Pitt and Syracuse.
Cons: UConn has made its case several times and been turned down.