Yesterday, we discussed how UConn football has lots of blame to spread around for its dire state. Now it’s time to focus on solutions.
“Hire a good football coach,” you might suggest... Too expensive.
“Drop football and join the Big East!” ... Sounds like a lot of effort.
“Beg, borrow and plead for a spot in the Big Ten/ACC/SEC/Amazon SuperCon!” ... Oh yeah, good call. I didn’t think about that one.
Those are all linear strategies for a digital world. If UConn is going to succeed in mid-majordom, it’s going to have to embrace the culture of innovation that makes it so special. Ol’ fashioned gumption alone won’t be enough to get the athletic department out of its temporarily embarrassed millionaire phase.
The root of UConn’s problems stem from football being the sport of highest import in all the land. Despite being amazing at basketball, and pretty damn good at baseball, field hockey, and soccer, UConn’s status is lower than it should be because it didn’t do high level football early enough. It’s frustrating.
So what if...
(Gets on stage)
The UConn athletic department really did something about it.
(Waves hands frantically about)
It’s time for a paradigm shift.
Below you will find my simple, three-step solution for UConn athletics:
Step 1 - The Campaign to End Football’s Reign
Tackle football is a very dangerous sport, perhaps it’s in need of dramatic rule changes, and maybe it shouldn’t even be played at all.
Either way, its growth is slowing and there’s a strong possibility, with globalization, evolving tastes of millennials and Gen-Z, rampant corruption in the sport, and concerns over the medical condition of players, that it goes the way of boxing, horse racing, or worse, baseball.
UConn would benefit from making that happen faster.
In the shadows, UConn’s athletic department should conspire with Vice dot com, ESPNU, and Mark Blaudschun to completely pull the curtain back on corruption and malfeasance across the NCAA’s FBS schools.
If they really want to stir up some fervor, they could keep pushing this RPO as Communism bit. If that narrative catches fire, and it seems like there’d be some help, then as top teams continue to use RPO, the American public will rally against football, just like it did the metric system.
Combined with legitimate concerns about player health along with this new wave of scandals and continued controversy over whether or not players should be paid, football as a sport doesn’t even need to fully fall out of favor for the NFL to decide that running its minor league through higher education probably isn’t a great idea.
Yes, that’s right, the path to professional sports should not have to go through post-secondary education. The NFL would be wise to get on the same plan that the MLB, NHL, now the NBA, and every other damn sports league in the world have for their development systems. If that ever gets fixed, college basketball will survive the aftermath. Football will probably not. Mission accomplished.
I have grown to love college football very, very much, way more than I like the NFL, so it pains me to offer this advice. But I am just a humble content farmer commenting on the human condition of UConn fandom, which is getting really hard to live with lately.
Once college football becomes college baseball, more people will want to pay lots of money to broadcast all those other (very good!) UConn sports and the Huskies can go back to dominating basketball, getting awesome at hockey, and I can go back to living a calm, peaceful life before I ever bookmarked Nielsen ratings.
Step 2 - Sarcastaball
Because the above won’t happen immediately, UConn must do its best to highlight the need for change in this ultra-violent sport in the short-term.
Randy Edsall is already very cavalier with the boundaries of acceptable football product, so why not take it a step further? I’d recommend the Sarcastaball approach from South Park. Start with advocating for the elimination of kick-offs, but then throw in the fun stuff like the hugging instead of tackling, huddles of praise, and replacing helmets with paper hats for safety. THESE ARE THE RULES ON OUR HOME TURF, HOLY CROSS, DEAL WITH IT.
Oh yeah, not many schools are going to want schedule UConn for a bit so the rivalry with Holy Cross is back on. Obviously, we left the AAC for not sponsoring the right version of football. UConn now has an excuse to park basketball somewhere decent. Win, win, win.
Again, Randy Edsall might be in Phase One of this already for all we know. Say whatever you want about him, he’s a clever guy. He’s also shown a desire to take on the machine, almost admirably so.
Step 3 - Profit
With basketball as one of the fastest growing major sports in the world right now, and arguably the one growing profits the most worldwide, UConn’s content library is now pure gold, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Sit back and watch, David Benedict and successors, as the dough rolls in while basketball becomes the new football.