Earlier today, we chatted with Aman Kidwai (@AmanfromCT) from the pithily named The UConn Blog to see what the Huskies bring to the conference table. Now we're going to argue against him, because this blog's other name is Bring On the Counterpoint.
So where is that again?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but UConn is far away, really far away. The school is more than 500 miles from the closest current Big 12 member, West Virginia, which is already 860 miles away from its nearest Big 12 "neighbor," Iowa State. I can't imagine too many UConn fans wanting to schlep halfway across the continent just to have Texas Tech fans throw tortillas at them. More importantly, I'm not sure UConn brings enough to the table to excite current Big 12 fans. West Virginia at least provides a terrific game day experience in football, but what sort of ambience does a half-full stadium provide, assuming the average Big 12 fan can even afford the trip?
So you're great at basketball?
We'll stipulate to the greatness of UConn basketball. The men's program has won four national titles, and UConn's dominance in women's basketball has been so devastatingly thorough as to merit the "you're ruining the game" treatment usually reserved for college football and
Nebraska Michigan Notre Dame Alabama. But basketball is largely meaningless in conference expansion. The last round of realignment confirmed what we always knew: only football really moves the needle. Besides, the Big 12 already has a traditional basketball power that is terrible at football. Does the conference really need to duplicate Kansas?!
UConn also adds no real recruiting caché to the Big 12. The area, never quite a hotbed of high school football talent, has seen a steady decline in participation. Plus, the lack of regional interest in college football would probably offset any potential gains from the addition of a big television market.
So your mascot is a puppy?
UConn's mascot, Jonathan the Husky, is legitimately adorable. But that's not how we roll in the Big 12.
Our mascots are wild and fierce, from horned reptiles to frontiersmen to gun-toting riders and pistol-wielding cowboys to rampaging bovines and speeding conestogas. This is a conference where even the birds have teeth, and where mascots literally kick adorable little children in the face:
The Big 12 is clearly no place for an adorable puppy mascot. To be fair, UConn also has a standard person-in-fuzzy-costume version of the mascot, vacant plastic eyes and all. But the Big 12 already has one embarrassing cartoon of a mascot in the Jayhawk, so again, why add to the problem?
It's not all bad at UConn, of course. The football head coach, Bob Diaco, is really, really good looking. No, really. He could give Kliff Kingsbury a run for his money and make up for the departure of Fred Hoiberg. But success and conventional good looks are generally inversely related in college football, so this may not really be a point in UConn's favor.
So what's the bottom line?
Adding UConn to the Big 12 is literally just adding a team to make up the numbers. It would be exactly like the Big Ten adding Rutgers. Don't be like the Big Ten.