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Jasper Howard's death could punch UConn's ticket to the Orange Bowl

If UConn beats the South Florida Bulls this Saturday to become the worst BCS bowl team ever, its postseason BCS playdate will almost certainly come down to two destinations: the Orange Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl.

The widely held belief circulating around the college football universe is that the Orange Bowl reps, which have a higher pick, would pass on the Big East champ -- in large part because it's a horrible, God-forsaken conference -- and the Fiesta Bowl would be force-fed the 8-4 Huskies.

Not so fast, says Larry Wahl, the Orange Bowl vice president of communications and community outreach (which I believe means he plans the company picnic.)

You see, while the Huskies are an awful football team, the fact that a UConn player who was tragically murdered happens to hail from the same place that the Orange Bowl is held (Miami) could make the two a perfect match:

For UConn, which would qualify to play in its first Bowl Championship Series game with a victory at South Florida on Saturday night (8 p.m., ESPN2), there may be no greater potential storyline than the death of Jasper Howard last October.

Howard, a Miami native, was stabbed on campus, earning the program national recognition for the way it handled his death. UConn coach Randy Edsall, athletic director Jeff Hathaway and the Howard family were all in attendance at last year's game to accept the Courage Award, presented by the Orange Bowl and Football Writers' Association of America.


"We actually had Randy and Jeff Hathaway down here for a coaches' function last year and actually had Jasper's family out on the field during the game last year," Wahl said Monday by phone. "That's an interesting thing. That's one of those compelling stories, for sure."

Story-book, really.