UConn coaches want to stay in Big East? Don't believe it

If you follow UConn news as obsessively as I do, there is a good chance that in the last 24 hours you've seen a headline like this: "UConn Hoops Coaches Hope Huskies Stay in Big East." Uh, no.

If you read the articles attached to those stories it requires an almost willful misreading of the coaches to come up with a headline like that (and I don't want to bag on the reporters, who often don't write their own headlines).  I'll use the above Norwich Bulletin piece for comparison, though they're not the only guilty one (ESPN pulled an even more clever trick, their main college page says "UConn hoops coaches prefer to stay in Big East", but the link takes you to a much more accurately (and ambiguously headlined story, "UConn's Jim Calhoun is 'pro Big East'").

Here's Jim Calhoun's first quote in the Bulletin piece:

"My love affair with the Big East, that's never going to change. The thing I continue to say, regardless of what others around us say, is we need to get the best situation, including the Big East. Whatever he best situation is for Connecticut, that's where we need to go."

That quote is entirely consistent with what Calhoun has been saying for a month, the rough version of which is: UConn needs to go to its best situation (and if the ACC calls we'll flee the Big East like hell is chasing us). If you want to get the quote to fit in with the "UConn Hoops Coaches Hope Huskies Stay in the Big East" headline, you'd have to add "and that scientists build a time machine to go back and fix the conference to keep Pittsburgh and Syracuse from leaving."

Calhoun gets one more long quote in the article:

"I don't know what's going to happen. I just think that something in the near future is going to kind of decide the future of the Big East. Might be next week, might be two weeks, might be a month, might be two years. The Big East is either going to get stronger and better or it's not, so whatever is going to happen, I hope it makes us stronger."

Again, not exactly a ringing endorsement. Of course Calhoun hopes the Big East gets stronger - Uconn might be stuck in it after all - but that does not mean he wants his team to be in that stronger Big East.

The AP story ESPN is running has another bit from Calhoun, which points out that sure, he's pro-Big East, but it doesn't scream "desire to stay.":

"My thing is that I'm never, ever, to this day, never, ever will be anti-Big East," Calhoun said. "I'm pro-Big East and I hope that things can be worked out in the Big East. But, if they can't be, and we can find a better place for ourselves, then we would do that."

Calhoun said even after Syracuse and Pittsburgh leave, the league still will have nine basketball programs that made the NCAA tournament a year ago, and in his opinion is a stronger basketball conference than the ACC.

Geno Auriemma also was quoted in the Bulletin:

"I would hope we could find two teams that can fill the void hat (sic) Syracuse and Pitt created. We're losing two great basketball programs, not good - great. Hopefully we can replace those two, not with two great basketball programs, maybe four that are really, really good that will give us more depth in our league."

Same song, different verse: Yes, it'd be nice if the Big East was stronger, but nothing in that quote offers a commitment or desire to stay in the league.

No where else in the article is there any sort of indication that either coach has a preference for remaining in the league. The "Hoops Coaches Hope Huskies Stay in the Big East" headline is sexy, and I'm sure it gets some nice page views, but that doesn't make it true.

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