Hi, I'm justdave, and I'm a Recruiting Junkie

Jared Wickerham

Connecticut starts the 2013-14 athletics season playing in a bizarro conference that was cobbled together using the Big East Castaways, the Conference USA, spit, duct tape, and sadness. How is this going to impact our recruiting? I'll give you a hint. It's the opposite of "well" and rhymes with schmoorly. Let's dive in, shall we?

Like many of you, I own NCAA 2014 for my PS3. My roommate and I are both high school football coaches, so we like to try to out-scheme one another and create situations for epic trash talking.

Like slightly fewer of you, I am actually attempting to run a franchise with UConn. The game lets you play year to year with any team in the country, trying to recruit players to come play in your little system. I have been doing it with every year of NCAA football since 2008. There have been many good times and National Championships won by me and my mighty Huskies. This season, I was 8-2, secured a BCS bowl game birth (and promptly got my butt kicked by Jadaveon Clowney and the Gamecocks), and was able to run a hybrid Pistol-Full House / Split-back Veer offense to my heart’s content. I was a happy Dave. I was having a hard time recruiting, however. For some reason, nobody wanted to come to Storrs. One of the major complaints I was seeing was "Player X wants to play in a major conference."

It dawned on me that our real sports may be having the same problem. How else do you explain the mediocre football recruiting class on it’s way in 2014? Arkeel Newsome is legit, if a bit undersized, but the rest of the class, at least as of today, is sub-par. Human mountain Chasz Wright (6’7", 300) is wavering on his commitment due to our coaching instability. Recruiting is a fickle practice, and when the dominoes start falling it can often be difficult to stop them. This offseason is bound to be interesting, at the very least.

On the hoops front, Connecticut seems to have lost out on quite a few of the elite prospects they targeted. Now, I am aware that a national program like UConn is going to make a ton of offers to players, and has the institutional capacity to target and pursue multiple players at the same time, so one has to be careful when trying to find fault in targets choosing another place to matriculate. At the same time, you HAVE to think that the fact these kids won’t be playing in the Big East Champsionship on ESPN at MSG in March has got to be weighing on their decision. How much? Well, that’s something we will just have to see, now won’t we...

My fondest memories of college basketball are the monstrous yearly Big East battles. Whether it was St. Johns and Marcus Hatten the UConn killer, or Mike Nardi and the scrappy, guard heavy Nova teams, or Kemba Walker performing the step-back to end all step-backs to defeat Brittney Griner and the mighty Pittsburgh Panthers (she played for them, right?), you could always count on a solid, hard fought game in the Big East. How will we ever create a rivalry like this with SMU?? My definitive college football memory was causing false start after false start against Pitt on that fateful Thursday night game on ESPN during the inaugural year at the Rent (don’t remember much from that game, but I remember that) when we crushed them. We had arrived in the Big East. That will never happen again.

So where do we go from here? Is the Awkward Athletic Conference a permanent thing? Are the Big-10 or the ACC in our future? Does the whole conference system implode at some point in the next five years? I don’t know… and I don’t think you do either. Here’s what I do know: recruiting is going to be impacted. It just is, and we need to deal with that. Kevin Ollie has a plan, so I am reasonably secure in the knowledge that basketball will thrive the way basketball thrives. A good head coach, who inspires confidence and projects strength, can overcome any conference silliness. Football… well, football will still be played in Storrs, I can tell you that much. But until the coaching situation is dealt with, the conference alignment is bound to wreak havoc on our recruiting.

Recruiting may be unpredictable. I, however, am not. Expect me to rant about the "good old days" like a bizarro Californian Andy Rooney. Expect me to be somewhat ruthless on our targeting and our securing of prospective new Husky pups. Expect me to constantly bash the AAC and never, ever, ever call it the "American." Catch you on the flipside. Dave, out.

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