Don't Blame UConn, Blame Yourself

Last night I posed the following question on the mothership...Is UConn the worst BCS team ever? The answer seems to be vacillating somewhere between "absolutely" and "them or 2004 Pitt." Either way, it's probably a Big East team.

I didn't pose the question as an attack on the Huskies. It's a honest question that folks all over the nation are asking themselves right now as they try to justify why 11-1 Michigan State, 11-1 Boise State and 10-2 LSU are probably going to lesser bowls than an 8-4 team that got shutout by Louisville, lost to Temple and only managed to score ten points on Greg Robinson's Michigan defense (which gave up no less than 21 points to everyone else they played).

The Huskies (barely) eeked their way into the rankings this week (#25), ensuring that they won't be the first unranked team to ever play in a BCS bowl. Something tells me that's probably part of the reason their ranked at all. And even then they're not the highest-ranked Big East team (West Virginia).

Anyway, all of that aside, if I'm a UConn fan, I don't really give a s**t about all that. Their team did what was asked of it to win the conference and earn the BCS bid. It's not their fault no one else was good enough to wrest the conference from them.

You can find UConn undeserving of the BCS bid, but if you're going to do so, you must lay the blame at the feet of Pittsburgh. And West Virginia. And Syracuse and USF and Cincy and Rutgers (who finished in the last place but managed to beat our conference champion...ugh).

Part of the reason the UConn selection looks bad is the same reason I wrote not too long ago about how it was up to WVU, Pitt and Syracuse to save the conference. If it had been Pitt or West Virginia, at least there's some history or tradition for the rest of the nation to fall back on. Folks in the Rocky Mountains know a little something about those schools. People in the Midwest have seen their teams play those squads before. They know in the back of their mind that these programs mattered at some point in time.

With UConn, I'm willing to bet that the Fiesta/Orange Bowl will be the first time a lot of fans West of the Mississippi River will have even watched the Huskies play a football game. And therein lies the rub when teams like UConn and Cincy win the conference.

That can change over time, provided that these programs maintain an elite status, pull off some major non-conference victories and take the next step. But that's the big question, isn't it? Can a program like UConn take the next step from here (National Title contender)? We don't know yet.

Chances are the Huskies will end up in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma and in that, perhaps, we find our saving grace. The Sooners have developed a bit of a reputation for losing major bowl games that they aren't supposed to lose. If they end up in the Orange Bowl instead against Virginia Tech, perhaps that's an even safer bet since I'm pretty sure no one outside the East Coast will even watch the game, so those of us who do watch can all agree that it never happened.

UConn fans, enjoy your Big East title and BCS berth. Don't worry, we'll still make fun of you and we fully expect you to lose by 40 to whoever you play. Hopefully you make it respectable but, we'll believe it when we see it. And if you prove the rest of us all wrong, all the better.

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