Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Category: College Football

The Fall Sports Overlap and Overload

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It’s about this time every year that my head begins to fill will a jumble of sports craziness. Ok, maybe that’s unfair, my head is filled with sports craziness all year long, but this time of year it kicks into overdrive. With professional football beginning to pick up in week 4, professional baseball in the stretch run, and college football in full swing, life is crazy. Then you add the beginning of professional hockey now and professional/college basketball in the next few weeks and my eyes don’t know where to focus. It’s hard enough to keep up with 2 sports running simultaneously, forget 4 or 5. Here’s how I prioritize my limited sports viewing time in order to get the most bang for my buck during a nutty fall of sports.

Baseball

Since the Red Sox are very much in contention, they become the priority viewing experience, weekdays or weekends. Baseball is my true love and with just days left in the regular season and a potential championship contender in town, it has to be the focus. Once the Sox clinch the AL East (magic number is 1) and hopefully lock up the best record in baseball, I’ll have a small breather until the playoffs. Obviously, playoff baseball takes precedent over all else in October.

Also, since this week is the Fantasy Baseball championship for me, that will shift more of my focus away from other sports.

Pro Football/College Football

I limit my football focus to the weekends (unless UConn or the Patriots are playing another day) for now. Saturdays are for college football and Sundays are for pro football. It seems pretty logical, but can be surprisingly difficult to limit myself when both pro and college football are full-time viewing and following experiences. Between injury reports and match-up information, it’s an easy rabbit-hole to get sucked down on weekdays, but I must be strong!

Once the Red Sox season is over (hopefully not for another month+), I will shift the major focus of my attention to football. Since my Fantasy Football teams are terrible (combined 1-5), I may not have to worry too much about the fantasy aspect once baseball is over.

Pro Basketball/Pro Hockey

I know it’s blasphemy to say in Boston, but I’m just not a big NBA fan. I consider myself a periphery Celtics fan and enjoy watching an occasional game and following an interesting storyline, but can’t bring myself to watch on a consistent basis during the regular season. My wife would say that’s a good thing, because I love college basketball and pro hockey, which significantly overlap in seasons (not to mention the serious overlap with football), so I don’t know if I would have the time to avidly follow the Cs even if I wanted to.

The Boston Bruins are a newer passion for me. I grew up outside of Hartford, CT and was a big Whalers fan growing up. When they left Hartford in 1997, I denounced hockey for about a decade in protest. In 2007 when I moved to Boston, I began watching the Bruins and got the hockey itch back. Ever since then, for about 9 years now, I have been an avid hockey fan and a strong Bruins follower. On days when football is not being played and there isn’t a big UConn game (basketball or football), hockey is my major focus.

College Basketball

Being an obsessive UConn sports fan, college basketball season is often a joyous time. I follow the early season games as much as I can, but really start to watch obsessively after the turn of the year. January-April is prime college basketball watching season, with a special focus in early March and into April. Thankfully there are only a handful of earlier season games that are must-watch TV, allowing me to focus on other fall/winter sports until things really pick up. Regardless of what UConn does, the NCAA Tournament is the greatest sports viewing experience of any sport at any time hands down.

There are a smattering of other sports I follow casually during the fall/winter timeline, but everything else is secondary (or thirdary, or fourthdary, or fifthdary).  For right now, discipline and focus are the keys to successfully managing the sports nuttiness that is the fall. Happy watching everybody!

Big XII Expansion Back in the Spotlight for UConn

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After months of back and forth, will they-won’t they expand, the Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby (how great is his name?) announced the league will look to expand to 12 or 14 teams (add 2 or 4 teams). UConn has been in the Big XII conversation for years now, so the expansion news (if it actually ends up happening) is big in Storrs. UConn should be at least in the final group with a legitimate shot of getting an invitation, but they are facing some tough competition with an unclear future. Let’s take a look at where UConn’s resume stands in the expansion talks.

Geography and Travel

UConn has both an advantage and disadvantage in geography and travel. Let’s start with the obvious: Storrs, CT is a long way from the Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa where the current teams are located. West Virginia is the closest team and still 600 miles away, making travel in the league much more expensive and difficult. That’s a massive disadvantage, for sure, especially when comparing resumes of the University of Houston, University of Cincinnati and University of Memphis as other options.

The advantage comes with UConn’s strong presence in the large and powerful New York media market. Let’s face it, college sports (specifically football, but also basketball) are all about the money and if the Big XII looks to add a television network, UConn would pull in the New York market that no other team can bring to the table. This frankly is UConn’s strongest argument for joining the league. It’s all about the money and UConn has access to new money.

Competitiveness and Reputation

In terms of football, UConn falls pretty far back in this category, but in basketball, they immediately make the league significantly better. In terms of football, the program is improving but is not close to the same level as current schools like Texas or Oklahoma and not nearly as strong as hopeful BYU and Boise State (a long shot I think). UConn basketball is incredibly strong in basketball, both men’s and women’s, and it without a doubt the best school to add for basketball competitiveness.

Another challenge is attendance, which for example is 58,000 per game at BYU and a measly 27,400 last season at UConn. UConn’s stadium only holds around 40,000, which is the tiny relative to most big-time programs. Not particularly exciting numbers and not in UConn’s favor.

Bottom Line

It all comes down to money and where the Big XII feels the future cash will come from. If they feel a network and expanding into new media markets is key, then UConn will be atop the list and give them a great option to break into the New York market. If they value football strength above all else, UConn is screwed and won’t have a shot. The fact that the league is looking to expand was a bit of a shock, so at this point, no one has any idea what the future will bring. The one thing I know is that if the Big XII expands and takes more than 1 AAC school, the AAC will fall even further off the map in terms of credibility and strength and those left will be in the league will be in a tough spot going forward.

Our UConn football family is very fortunate to call The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center our home. These facilities are among the finest in the nation and fully serve the needs of our football student-athletes. I want all Husky student-athletes and my fellow coaches to be able to enjoy the same caliber of facilities, which they richly deserve.

UConn Football Coach Bob Diaco on his $250,000 gift to help with the construction of facilities for UConn’s men’s and women’s soccer program, baseball program and softball program.