At the end of last week, Bob Diaco made UConn Football the subject of a punchline by sportswriters and bloggers who were desperately looking for something to write about during a dead period in the college sports news cycle. Diaco gave them an easy story, and they were more than happy to run with it.
Inventing a rivalry game without the permission of the other school is kind of funny, and a little crazy, but definitely not embarrassing. It's nothing more than a little friendly trash talk. It's not like this idea came out of nowhere, he mentioned it after the game in November.
Bob Diaco walked into the AAC coaches room, pointed his finger at the best team in there and, like John Rambo in First Blood Part II, uttered: "I'm coming to get you!" There's at least a 50% chance Diaco blows into George O'Leary's ear during the pre-game handshake.
But you need to be geographically close or have significant history with one another to have a rivalry game!
Or else what? Your Rivalry Game Club membership is revoked? The NCAA disbands your football team? What, exactly, are the actual negative repercussions of Bob Diaco's actions last week? A few days of talking heads poo-pooing it? OH NOOOOO.
The news got a lot of people talking about UConn Football. It has been all over ESPN and every other major news site. This saga will be re-visited when the Huskies and the Knights take the field this season in Orlando. The Civil Conflict will be a talking point for at least the next two or three games, even if UCF refuses to acknowledge it. Moreover, if it makes UConn's players amp up their intensity for a game against a good program, all the better. Mission accomplished. Now it's on Diaco and the players to make it a game worthy of this billing (or at least not get blown out).
In case you're still feeling uneasy, I've compiled a list of events that are way, wayyyy more embarrassing than your football coach making up a rivalry out of thin air:
- Misspelling the name of a former player on the jersey you are using to retire his number.
- Doing it again for a football player in your spring game three months later.
- Self-imposing an NCAA Tournament ban in the middle of a season where you weren't making it anyway.
- Deciding you are going to reinstate a previously retired number, then changing your mind.
- Being a jerk about it.
- The football coach referencing ISIS to help "maintain perspective" after a loss.
- Advertising the name of a "student-athlete" to sell jerseys.
- Responding to a Tweet burn in the lamest way possible.
- One Final Four appearance per decade.
- Losing your football coach to the NFL because he completed the Herculean task of going .500 at your school.
We all know Bob has a little crazy in him. We might as well enjoy the ride while waiting to find out whether it's the good kind of crazy or not. Remember, this is a guy who was warding off energy vampires in his introductory press conference. Is it really very surprising to you that he wants to keep a sack of oranges on a mantle if UConn loses a made-up rivalry game?
At least we aren't Syracuse.