Diaco on Boston College


With rivalry weekend in college football here and gone and the Huskies having played their 6th different opponent on Thanksgiving weekend since 2004, it’s time there’s a regular foe locked in, if for nothing else, to generate additional interest this time of year.

UConn head coach Bob Diaco was never asked the question a lot of Husky fans want to know the answer to, until this afternoon, during the wrap-up teleconference on the game yesterday against Memphis.

“I’ve never been asked that question, I’ve never given it any thought,” Diaco responded when asked if he would like to see the Huskies play Boston College. “I’m not asking facetiously, but is that a prevailing thing out there? Has it been a conversation in the past? I don’t even know.”

After sharing some background information regarding the Eagles’ departure from the Big East and the prevailing feelings, it sounded like Diaco would rather build-up an in-conference rival, than an opponent from the competing ACC.

“I don’t have any thoughts on it,” Diaco stressed. “I’ve never thought about it. They’re not in our league. I’d like to develop some inter-league intrigue. That would be my initial impression, is to focus our energies on making the American Conference exciting, but whatever, I’m good on whatever the people decide.”

Diaco went on to share how out-of-conference games are scheduled and the role he plays in that area.

“We all weigh in, it starts there on the front-line of it,” he said. “That stream doesn’t flow up, so it starts at that level, up there with Warde and then goes down. Him and Doug [Gnodtke], the sport administrator. They kind of kick it around and if it seems like an exciting option or a potential option, then they volley it to me and get me involved. From there we put our heads together.”

Based on that response, it sounds as though no discussions have even taken place about BC, since Diaco came on board in January.

At one time (2003), UConn and Boston College approached the Big East about setting up a larger, Thanksgiving Day event between the two foes, but the Eagles leaving the conference halted any plans at the time.

Former BC AD Gene DeFilippo and UConn AD Jeff Hathaway wanted corporate sponsorship, a trophy, a name that would set the game apart and a locked in annual Thanksgiving weekend date.

With the lawsuits that reigned down from the Big East and Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, relations obviously soured and it hung over to 2011, during the latest ACC expansion, when DeFilippo was still AD as he blocked the Huskies from joining, convincing the league administrators to go with Pitt instead of UConn and then boasted about just that publicly.

“We didn’t want UConn in,” DeFilippo said. “It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.”

DeFilippo has since been replaced as athletic director, by a Michigan man, Brad Bates. Him and Manuel go back a ways and there was some rumored talk about a potential game in the works in 2013, but nothing has come to fruition.

Time will tell whether these two ever get together for a scheduled game, but should the Huskies improve to bowl worth, it’s only a matter of time before they both meet each other in the postseason, given both conference bowl affiliations. It would be an instant sellout.

As a reminder, here are some former UConn coaches thoughts on playing Boston College in the major sports:

Jim Calhoun: 

“We won’t play BC after they leave (the Big East),” Calhoun, then UConn’s head coach, said at Big East Media Day on Oct. 30, 2003. “I will not play Boston College as long as I’m here.”

The Huskies played BC in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic at MSG last season, the first time the two have met on the hardwood since those comments. Calhoun expanded upon his thoughts on BC to Dave Borges of the New Haven Register last year.

“I wasn’t upset with BC. I was upset with decisions made, behind the scenes, which I’m not going to go in great detail about. But, in 2005, a lot of us kind of had to hold the (Big East) together. They were a verbal, ‘Yes, we want to hold this thing together.’ But what they were saying and what was going on, not through the school itself but from the athletic department, wasn’t necessarily fact. I’ve never been one to hold back on how I felt about things, and that’s how I felt about it. I don’t apologize for it. I mean, why would we ruin a New England rivalry? Rivalries are great and BC should be a very natural rivalry, them being in the ACC and we being, certainly, at that level.”

Randy Edsall: 

When asked during a chat on ESPN in 2010, ‘I know the schedule is set by the AD, but is there a team outside of the Big East that you would like to start an annual series against?’

“Yes, Boston College. I think that us playing Boston College would be a great thing for northeast football, and one that could be a big hit. I would like to see that game played in Gillette Stadium, see the tickets split 50/50, and have some kind of trophy go to the winner of that game. I’m sure the World Wide Leader would love to put it on TV.”

Kevin Ollie: 

“I would love to rekindle that rivalry. It’s a great team, right in our region. We had a lot of wars in the Big East. I remember a lot of them when I played at UConn.”

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