2014 Football Schedule looking frightfully empty

Yes - week 1 2012 and I'm talking about 2014? How come? In theory, that's the year UConn *should* be at the peak of the Pasqualoni era (four years of recruiting - improvement at QB - rebuilding of the losses on defense after this season). The 2012 season should be an improvement over 5-7 in 2011 just because of the quarterback position. Ticket sales will be up if the Huskies return to a bowl game this year. But even a 6-6 year this year won't stop UConn from a likely season-sellout in 2013. Why? Back-to-back games in September - which will likely be sold as full or partial season packages - Michigan and Maryland.

I don't need to explain why the Maryland game is a big deal; of course, the Terps may buy out Randy Edsall's contract if they pull another 2-10 season like last year and the looks of their opener isn't selling me on Maryland football 2012. The Michigan game will be the hottest ticket ever for UConn football. Drive around Connecticut long enough and you'll see the Block M on enough bumper stickers. Michigan fans are ravenous for the chance to see UConn in New England and NYC Metro area.

So it would be great to renew that season ticket base after those two games and a likely competitive (if the defense holds up) 2013 UConn team (including the excitement of new Big East teams), right?

First problem - no one is on the schedule for 2014 yet. Tennessee and Virginia aren't on schedule until 2015, 2016 respectively. There was a home-and-home with Central Florida, but it seems the fact they will be a conference opponent eliminates that game (of course, we have no idea at this point what the conference divisions will look like.) There's not going to be a ton of excitement for potential Big East home schedule of Cincinnati and Temple (Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers would be home opponents in 2013, not likely to play consecutively at home) plus two home games among Memphis, Boise State (don't hold your breath, likely in another division due to geography), Houston, SMU, UCF or San Diego State.

So what next for those (likely) four empty dates?

Not likely to get an elite program to come in at this point, especially if a return date (or two) isn't promised. With trips to Tennessee and Virginia on the schedule, that may be a bit much to ask.

Notre Dame? That bridge appears to be burned and their schedule is full.

UMass? Their schedule is likely full - Penn State, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Colorado (Colorado and BC at "home"). They said they want the tough schedule, but there's no holes there to get UConn in unless someone drops.

Before you think of BC and worlds colliding - BC is full as well unless they'd want to cancel a game with Rhode Island - not likely when they have USC and a game at Yankee Stadium with Army.

Some ACC teams have holes in their schedule but would be a home-and-home - Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, for example. Florida State has two open dates in 2014 but they aren't coming to East Hartford without two promised dates down there. Other ACC teams are not open (Clemson, Va Tech) or have been scheduled or were scheduled too recently (Virginia, NC State, Maryland). It's too early to play Syracuse or Pitt, wounds too fresh? They could be scheduled due to the likely flux of their schedules. Sadly, they may be the best schools to come in for a game - I doubt it would be scheduled, though.

Grabbing a MAC school (or two) for a game and a Villanova/Delaware FCS-type school for another would fill holes, but if UConn has the talent to be ranked in 2014, the weak schedule will keep them out of the polls.

A couple of reaches:

Oklahoma: It would be a road game, probably a one-time game because the Sooners have Ohio State and LSU coming up non-conference after that and they don't typically schedule two "automatic qualifiers" the same year (in quotes because Big East isn't an AQ school at that point).

Utah: Not exactly a reach - they play at Michigan in 2014 so they'll likely require a trip West in 2014 but would be able to return the trip in the next two years. Pac 12 School now, keep that in mind.

Nebraska: They have an opening. If the Michigan game is a success at UConn, they may make a home-and-home trip. They have Miami (FL) at home in 2014 but could schedule a trip to Connecticut, although likely would force UConn to travel first. Would be a very-high profile road game.

Wisconsin: They have the openings, but they rarely play east. They have no trouble playing a road game in California, but Penn State is usually as far east as they go. They have a bigger alumni base out west. Would need some help with basketball to package in some games there to make that happen.

Texas A&M: Conference realignment has freed up space but SMU is already on the schedule. Hard to sell a move to the SEC when you play two Big East teams same year.

My prediction is two MAC teams or a MAC team and a lesser BCS AQ school and an FCS team. I hope they prove me wrong.

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