I've been dreading this post for months. Publishing it means that UConn's Year of HAM is over and it's now time to UConn's year of the unknown. To be fair, at this time last year no one could have predicted that an NCAA title, BCS bowl, baseball super regional were in UConn's future. Sure, you could have predicted that the women would make a Final Four, but you're not shocking the world with that pick.
But now we need to move on past that and look toward the future. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has spent his summer more focused on the mindset of a certain post-grad high school center than they were on football, but reality has set in and whether we like our chances or not, UConn is going to have to put a football team on the field.
For the first time since it has mattered, the football team will be lead by somebody other Randy Edsall, which, if nothing else, will make things interesting. I'm not sure exactly what to expect from new coach Paul Pasqualoni--and if we're being frank I haven't thought about it much at all-but I'm not expecting much. UConn is a team without a quarterback, or a runningback, or much of anything that resembles an offense skill-position player. To the extent that the Huskies have an identity it comes from their defense, but Sio Moore and crew can only do so much.
Barring a pleasant surprise, UConn is due for a big step back. The Big East coaches picked the Huskies to finish sixth, and the other SB Nation Big East bloggers picked them to finish dead last.
A predicted last-place finish seems unfair to me, but sixth-place doesn't, not for a team with as many questions as this one. I'm sure the Huskies will get off to a fine start with a ritual sacrifice of Fordham, but a week later they'll head to Vanderbilt and even against the Commodores all bets are off.
This team certainly could be a surprise - if last year proved anything it was that the Big East is easy enough to win - but I'm not going to hold my breath. I'm eager to see what the Paul Pasqualoni era holds, if only to see if it holds anything worth caring about, but I refuse to get my hopes up. Last year was UConn's miracle season, complete with the surprise run down the stretch and the appearance in a big-time bowl, and that's unlikely to be matched for a while.
Instead, we're likely to get what UConn should have, a good regional football team that wins the games it is supposed to, loses one or two it shouldn't and occasionally steals a win from a better squad. And if we don't get that, at least we'll get a distraction until basketball season starts.
It's not clear what lies in the future for UConn football, but we hope you'll stick with us to check it out. Over the next few weeks we'll try to give you a look at what to expect from this year's team and it's opponents.
It'll be damn near impossible for this year's teams to replicate 2010-11's Year of HAM, but that doesn't mean it won't be fun to watch them try. Go Huskies.