UConn is leaving the AAC to return to its roots in the Big East. This has been met with applause and head scratching in the college sports world. I am firmly in the head scratching camp. In my opinion, this move is risky and borderline nonsensical. I predict that UConn, in trying to reclaim past glory, will only sink all their future endeavours. I also think that anyone saying BC should do the same should also realize how silly that would be.
The Big East is dead
Whatever UConn thinks it is going to find in the Big East doesn't exist anymore. Yes there is still a tournament in Madison Square Garden and yes many of the teams they play are familiar, but the Big East is not the Big East of the '80s or even the Big East of the 2000s. TV audiences are smaller. There are fewer elite teams. The geography is spread out to the Midwest. Are the UConn fans who were disinterested in Memphis or Tulane going to turn out for Butler or Creighton?
It is coaching
While Villanova's success shows that you can win National Championships out of the Big East, UConn already won a title out of the AAC. Villanova's success was driven by Jay Wright. UConn's struggles post-Calhoun were just as easily attributed to coaching as conference. The AAC has legit basketball programs in Memphis, Cincinnati and Central Florida. UConn couldn't have beaten any of them lately. That's not because their players and fans long for the Big East. It is because their teams were bad. Maybe coaching will fix this, but changing conferences won't.
Giving up on Football will drag all sports
While their fans seems to think this move will give their programs new life, I think it will kill all their sports. Every coach who is recruiting against UConn can say, "they killed their football program. What will they kill next?" While I don't have a clear look into their books, I can't imagine this will improve athletic department revenues. We know the Big East TV deal is small. We know that football will be lucky not to lose a ton of money as an independent. Plus they have a $10 million AAC exit fee. Will ticket revenue from basketball and donations be enough to offset those decision?
Don't talk about BC and UConn
Predictably UConn's decision sparked talk from the pundits that BC should consider the same move. This is stupid beyond so many levels, namely the money, but also because the ACC is an entirely different group of schools. BC wants to be associated with Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame, etc. Even those who don't care about sports realize that benefit to BC. Plus unlike UConn -- which declared itself a basketball school to the world -- BC is a football school. Our most public moments have been football related. Our fans and alums care more about football than any of our other sports. And football has given us an identity.
As has been proven out time and again in college sports, any team can compete from any conference. The key is always finding the right coach and giving that coach the right time and support to turn things around. Whatever failings BC or UConn have had in the last decade have not been one of conference affiliations. They've been bad hires or bad decisions. Both schools have challenges. I hope that BC is on the right path to fix ours. I am pretty sure UConn just made their problems worse.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Congratulations to Ky Bowman. Although the BC guard wasn't drafted, he did sign a deal with the Golden State Warriors. Given the Warriors' depleted roster and their need for cheap talent in the hopes of retaining Thompson and Durant, Bowman should get a legitimate shot at making the team. The difference between being a first round pick and a second is bigger than being a second round pick and an undrafted free agent. Second round picks are discarded by NBA teams all the time. The other blessing for Bowman is the renewed commitment to the G-League. Teams actually use it for true development now. It is not lucrative nor glamorous, but if the Warriors send him down, he will have a chance to comeback.
I don't know if Bowman will bother completing his BC degree. I would hope he does. Even in professional basketball, he would probably need it in most post-playing jobs (coaching, front office, etc). I know BC does help these guys the best they can with completing course work in the offseason or through distance opportunities.
Despite a happy ending, I wish BC would be at the forefront of a rule change to allow players to return if they are not drafted in the NBA or NFL (call it the Hamp Cheevers rule). If BC is going to take a stand on paying players, why not make this stand too? Give players the chance to earn in the real world, but return if they change their mind or are given bad advice. If this is truly about developing them or giving them an education, changing that rule would seem like the something BC should believe in and support.
I hope Bowman has a great career. He was fun the watch the past few years and I thank him for what he did for BC.