In the days following the blitz of news about UConn transitioning to the Big East for everything but football and likely independence for the pigskin squad, the timing shifted.
The initial reports said UConn would join the Big East in a year, but subsequent reports stated that the entry dateas “to be determined.” I’m very hopeful that it really is such, because this benefits UConn for a few reasons.
First, the cost issue. Per conference bylaws, the Huskies would owe an additional $2.5 million in exit fees to the AAC if they leave less than 27 months after the announcement, which means they’d have to wait until the end of the 2021-2022 season to make the switch if they want to avoid that.
That said, it would also benefit this football program from a scheduling standpoint. The Huskies lose 75% of their schedule at whatever point they make the transition, so lead time would be beneficial for them.
If the switch happens a year from now as originally planned, the Huskies would truly be in a bind, because they would have an immediate need to schedule eight opponents, and there are only 11 teams that even have an opening in their schedule for 2020.
Sure, perhaps UConn strikes gold and almost all of Florida State, Pitt, Miami, TCU, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida International, Louisiana, ULM, Coastal Carolina and Army agree to a game with the Huskies.
Except good luck getting anyone other than Army, Pitt or perhaps CCU to travel to Storrs.
Also, at least five of the games would need to be on the road, which means at least three road games would involve well over 1,600 miles of travel for a school that just changed conferences to decrease travel in every other sport.
Bump out another year and the Huskies will lose Army, Arkansas, ULL, and CCU as potential opponents, but gain Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Baylor, Texas Tech, Northwestern, Maryland, New Mexico State, Central Michigan, Fresno State, UNLV, USC, Florida, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas State.
This means more options, obviously, but only on paper. The Huskies need at least three more home games, and there are only about four schools on that list that would even consider a road game at UConn. Again, the travel problem exists in the opposite direction as well.
Go one more year out and things normalize. The top end of the P5 continues to be unavailable, but that’s about it.
A school whose athletic department just reported a (fake, but whatever) $40 million deficit in their last publicly available statement will have to pay at least $10 million to the AAC to leave, another $3.5 million to the Big East for all their other sports to join, and potential future money to Kevin Ollie if that situation doesn’t break in their favor.
Not only would waiting until 2022-2023 to switch conferences save them another $2.5 million that they themselves say they don’t have to waste, but it would also solve an absolute scheduling nightmare for football’s future as an independent program.