UConn Likely to Opt Out of Football Series with Notre Dame

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIAugust 5, 2009

EAST HARTFORD, CT - DECEMBER 06:  Donald Brown #34 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball in the second half against the Pittsburgh Panthers on December 6, 2008 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Panthers defeated the Huskies 34-10.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It looks like the state of Connecticut, UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway, and Coach Randy Edsall finally got the message—ultimately it just didn't make sense!

The Star Ledger's long-time college football writer Tom Luicci, while covering Big East Media Days in Rhode Island, reported that, "Randy Edsall said his school was likely going to opt out of a scheduled four-game series with Notre Dame because the Irish won't play at Rentschler Field."

Chip Malafronte, UConn football beat writer for the New Haven Register, when speaking of the proposed series, wrote, "With no games in Connecticut, it is no longer being pursued by UConn."

The Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs pretty much agreed.

In today's column Jacobs said, "While it would be factually premature to report the six-game football series for Notre Dame and UConn is already dead, it would be equally irresponsible to assert that UConn has any intention to sign a contract for an agreement of such length."

One thing is certain; nobody appeared to know just how long the proposed series was supposed to last. Four games, six games, or 10 games?

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At first, it seemed that playing Note Dame was just what UConn's rising football program needed to put them on the map. However, the powers that be realized they didn't need the Fighting Irish and the fans of Connecticut grew increasingly upset that they could have been serious about entering into agreement where not one game would be played in the Nutmeg State.

Jacobs went on to suggest that playing the series the way Notre Dame wanted it was a slap in the face to Connecticut and now, "UConn finally has the hand to slap back."

I don't know if he was referring to Michigan announcing they would play the Huskies in East Hartford in 2013 when he talked about "slapping back" or whether he just felt that UConn knew it was time to take a stand.

He went on to say that he thinks most fans of Connecticut would, "applaud Hathaway for showing some cojones."

Connecticut's football program is certainly on the rise. In 2007, they won a piece of the Big East title and this past season, they finished 8-5 and had four of their players selected in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

Everyone in the state was upset—lawmakers in particular. They argued that the state didn't construct a brand-new football stadium only to have it's team play their home games in Gillette Stadium or the Meadowlands.

The state legislature was already hearing it from hotel and restaurant owners in the greater Hartford area that didn't want to lose revenue that home games at Rentschler Field create.

Fans were upset that Notre Dame was, in their eyes, "bullying" the Huskies and pointed out that Notre Dame was using history to make their case. In 2009, they felt there was no reason for UConn to bend over backwards for them.

Jacobs feels that the Big East has accepted the fact that Notre Dame is not going to join the conference in football. Although they admire Notre Dame's national marketing campaign, he says in reference to their opponents, "It's demeaning to the other team."

Rutgers was in a similar situation when they entered into negotiations with Notre Dame. When the Irish told Rutgers they wanted them to play their three home games  in the Meadowlands, they pulled out of the process.

UConn has made huge progress in football. Ten years ago they didn't even have a FBS division team but until they stand up to Notre Dame, they're not big-time. 

Standing up to Notre Dame shows how they feel about themselves and where their program is headed.  Congratulations UConn—today, you are a man!

Once again, with the way this series appears to have self-destructed, it seams that scheduling could become more complicated for the Irish in the future.

All but four of the 120 FBS teams are in a conference and some of those teams, like UConn, are likely to stand up for their conference and not let anyone push them around.

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