UConn Huskies football
The UConn Huskies football team is a college football team that represents the University of Connecticut in the sport of American football. The team competes in NCAA Division I FBS in the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Connecticut first fielded a team in 1896, and participated in Division I-AA until 1999. The Huskies began their two-year Division I-A transition period in 2000, and became a full-fledged Division I-A team in 2002. From 2000 to 2003 the team played as an independent. The school's football team then joined the conference of its other sport teams, the Big East (later named the American Athletic Conference in 2013), starting in 2004.
|Athletic director||David Benedict|
|Head coach||Randy Edsall|
15th season, 78–90 (.464)
|Other staff||Frank Giufre (OC)|
Lou Spanos (DC)
|Stadium||Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field|
|Location||East Hartford, Connecticut|
|NCAA division||Division I|
|Past conferences||ALNESC (1897–1922)|
New England (1923–1946)
Atlantic 10 (1997–1999)
Big East (2004–2012)
The American (2013–2019)
|All-time record||502–542–38 (.482)|
|Bowl record||3–3 (.500)|
|Unclaimed nat'l titles||1 (1924)|
Rhode Island (rivalry)
|Colors||National Flag Blue and White|
|Fight song||UConn Husky|
|Marching band||The Pride of Connecticut|
The University of Connecticut began playing football in 1896 when the school was known as Storrs Agricultural College, and the team was known as the "Aggies." It teamed up with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of Rhode Island to form the Athletic League of New England State Colleges for the purpose of scheduling football matchups between the schools. The first year was spent playing against local high schools and YMCA clubs. The following year provided their first competition against future rivals Rhode Island, an opponent that would be played over 100 times, and Massachusetts. Other early rivals included the Ivy League and the "Little Ivies", particularly Yale University starting in 1948, who have played the Huskies for 50 years.
Tragedy struck the team on September 27, 1919 when Gardner Dow died from brain injuries related to a flying tackle that he delivered in a game against New Hampshire. The college would honor Dow by naming the athletic fields after him. These fields would become the home for most of the school's athletic teams for the next three decades.
In 1924, the Aggies celebrated their first undefeated season when they finished with six wins, no losses and two ties. The defense was the strength of the team, as they allowed a meager thirteen points to be scored against them over the entire season, including a total of three points over the final seven games. The team was proclaimed by The New York Times to be among the best in the country, and was led by the school's first All-America candidate in captain, Martin "Red" O'Neill.
The UConn Club memorializes O'Neill with a yearly award given to a former student-athlete who has had a successful professional career.
Red O'Neill went on to become one of Connecticut's first players to play in the NFL. He played for the Hartford Blues in 1926, their only year in the NFL. Another player is Art "Pop" Williams, winning a championship with the Providence Steam Roller in 1928 and also has the record for the most rushing career touchdowns in Providence's franchise history. The Steam Roller are New England's first NFL champion.
In 2012, Bill Belichick stated in an interview on WEEI that in 1983 he applied for the Huskies' head coaching position but was eventually turned down in favor of an internal hire, Tom Jackson.
Transition to Division I-AEdit
Connecticut hired Lew Perkins as its athletic director in 1990. One of Perkins' first projects was to gather facts for a possible upgrade of the football program to Division I-A. Perkins feared that if the university didn't upgrade the football program, that it ran the risk of falling behind other institutions that fielded both football and basketball teams at the highest level. However, UConn was in the middle of a budget deficit and many faculty feared that an upgrade of the football program would result in a loosening of academic standards.
In 1997, the Big East Conference gave the University of Connecticut and Villanova University a December 31 deadline to decide if they were going to upgrade their respective football programs and join the Big East football conference. Villanova, a private institution, declined the invitation. However, in October 1997, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees overwhelmingly endorsed, by a vote of sixteen to one, the football team's plan to upgrade the program to Division I-A status. Part of the plan would be to build a new stadium, as the current stadium, Memorial Stadium, fell well below the minimum occupancy level of 30,000, as set by the NCAA. Originally, the new stadium was to be built on campus.
However, the enthusiasm toward the new stadium quickly faded as the estimated expenses rose, the idea of an on-campus stadium was tabled, and the upgrade of the program was put on hold by the Connecticut state legislature. A year later, the stadium issue was rehashed during an attempt to bring the New England Patriots to Hartford, Connecticut. A proposed 70,000 seat, open-air stadium in downtown Hartford would also serve as the home of the Huskies football team. The plans for this stadium also fell through and the Patriots announced that they would remain in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Eventually, a new site emerged across the Connecticut River in East Hartford, when Pratt and Whitney donated their land on the old Rentschler Airfield to the state for purposes of building an off-campus football stadium which is 20 miles away from the main campus. Randy Edsall was named the 27th head football coach at the University of Connecticut on December 21, 1998 and led the Huskies from Division I-AA into Division I-A. UConn officially began the upgrade process in January 1999 by applying to join the Big East football conference. They would receive a special waiver from the NCAA in order to play in Memorial Stadium while Rentschler Field was under construction.
UConn would become the first school to ever move from the FCS to the Bowl Championship Series as a member of the Big East after 3 years as an independent. The Huskies would spend the 2000 and 2001 as a transitional Division I-A program as they built their scholarship base to the maximum of 85. They recorded their first win over a Division I-A opponent on September 16, 2000, when they defeated Buffalo, 24–21. They would finish the 2000 season with a final record of 3–8. The 2001 season brought their first win over a BCS rival with a victory over Rutgers on September 29, by a score of 20–19. The growing pains continued, as they finished the season at 2–9.
The breakthrough came during the Huskies first year as a full-fledged member of Division I-A in 2002. Led by sophomore quarterback, Dan Orlovsky, they showed vast improvement over the previous two seasons, despite starting the season losing six of the first eight games. They closed Memorial Stadium in fashion by routing the last two opponents, Florida Atlantic and Kent State, by a combined score of 124–35. The 63 points scored against Kent State in the Memorial Stadium finale, was the most the Huskies ever scored in the 50 years of playing in the stadium. They concluded a successful season by defeating Navy, 38–0, and Iowa State, 37–20. The victory over Iowa State was the Huskies first win over a bowl-bound team.
The success continued in 2003, when Connecticut began play in Rentschler Field. They would finish the season with an overall record of 9–3. They opened the season with their first victory vs. a Big Ten team ( 34–10 over Indiana) and the final game of the season provided their first victory over an ACC opponent, when they defeated Wake Forest, 51–17. It was only the third time that a non-conference team had scored over 50 points in an ACC stadium. Despite the stellar record, the Huskies were not invited to play in a bowl game, largely due to their lack of conference affiliation.
In 2019, after several years of losing records with a $41 million sports created deficit, UCONN made the choice to leave the AAC and rejoin the current edition of the Big East. This is seemingly a basketball move because the Big East does not have football. At this time, it is unclear where UCONN football will go or what it will do. The AAC has clearly stated that UCONN has limited value as a football-only school and will not allow the school to stay as a football-only school. The MAC and CUSA also stated they have no interest in UCONN as a football-only school. The path seems to be to play as an independent.
The Big EastEdit
Connecticut was originally scheduled to join the Big East as a football member in 2005. However, following the departure of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, the Huskies' entrance into the Big East was expedited by one year.
The Huskies played their first Big East conference game on September 17, 2004 when they dropped a 27–7 decision at Boston College. Their first Big East conference win came only 13 days later, when they defeated Pittsburgh 29–17. They completed their first season in the conference in 5th place with a record of 3–3. That year's overall record of 8–4 was enough to garner an invitation to the 2004 Motor City Bowl, the first bowl invitation in the school's history. The attendance of 52,552 was, at the time, a record crowd for the Bowl.
The Huskies were hit hard by graduation and injuries in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The program opened one of the best and newest college football facilities in 2006 with the completion of the $57.9 million (165,000 sq. ft.) Burton Family Football Complex & Mark R. Shenkman Training Center. The 2007 season saw a quick turnaround with the Huskies first ever Big East Conference football title, which they shared with West Virginia, and an invitation to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. That was followed up with consecutive 8–5 seasons in 2008 and 2009 with wins in both of their bowl games (over Buffalo and the SEC's South Carolina).
The team was hit hard in 2009 by the on-campus murder of junior cornerback Jasper Howard who was stabbed by a non-student outside a dance following their homecoming game. UConn struggled following his death, dropping their next three games and falling to 1–4 in-conference, but got a major win to break the streak at Notre Dame, a victory quoted by Coach Randy Edsall as being the program's "Best Win". The game ball from that victory was sent to Howard's mother in Miami, one of many tributes throughout the year for the fallen player.
The team honored Howard prior to every game through the 2010 season, which would have been his senior year. They capped off the season with a game ending field goal by Dave Teggart and a 19–16 win over USF for their 2nd Big East Championship in 4 years and a trip to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. After a loss in the Fiesta Bowl, Edsall did not fly home with or tell his players that he was leaving the UConn football program. He instead took a separate flight to Maryland to become their new head coach. It had also been noted in the media that Edsall's relationship with then-athletic director Jeff Hathaway had been strained for several years.
Two weeks after Edsall left for the University of Maryland and after nearly seven years away from college football, Connecticut native Paul Pasqualoni was hired away as defensive coordinator from the Dallas Cowboys to lead the UConn football program, by the soon to be dismissed AD Hathaway. Following two seasons of mediocrity and a struggling offense, Pasqualoni was forced to replace his lifelong colleague George DeLeone as the offensive coordinator, just as he did prior to them both being fired at Syracuse. Pasqualoni named T. J. Weist as his OC for 2013. But Pasqualoni and Deleone (now his OL coach) were both fired after starting 0–4 with UConn's first ever and only loss as full D-I member to an FCS team (Towson 33–18) and following a humiliating defeat to Buffalo (41–12), which UConn had never lost to (8–0) as an FBS team. Weist was named the interim head coach and finished the season strong on a 3-game winning streak after starting out 0–5 and totally revamping the offense free of Pasqualoni's control.
Though Weist was considered for the head coaching job, UConn AD Warde Manuel announced Notre Dame defensive coordinator and Broyles Award winner Bob Diaco as the new UConn head coach for the 2014 season. After a complete tear down of the program in 2014, which would lead to Diaco finishing the year with only around 60 scholarship players available and needing to use a dozen true freshman, the team finished 2–10. The 2015 season resulted in a revitalization for the program as they finished 6–6 and became bowl eligible for the first time since the Edsall regime and the Fiesta Bowl in 2011.
American Athletic ConferenceEdit
The Big East's name changed in 2013 to the American Athletic Conference as a result of the non-FBS split that took place as part of the conference's three-way realignment between 2010–2013. Three members moved to the ACC as full members, Notre Dame went the ACC as a partial and West Virginia to the Big 12. With the seven non-FBS basketball schools buying the Big East conference name for their own newly formed conference. Two teams departing to the ACC, Syracuse and Pittsburgh left the Big East with losing records against the Huskies in football.
On December 26, 2016, UConn announced Diaco, who posted his 3rd straight losing year with a 3-9 record would be fired effective January 2, 2017 By not making the move immediately, the school saved $1.6 million in buyout expenses. He was replaced by former coach Edsall, making his return to the program after six years.
In 2010, Connecticut had 16 players named to the Big East All-Academic Football Team, an honor which requires a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 in a minimum of two semesters. And several times UConn was ranked as one of the top bowl teams in the country per the annual Graduation Gap Bowl report. In 2015, the team was honored by AF Coaches Assoc. for academic achievement and the 990 single year APR score in 2014–15 under head coach Diaco was also the highest in school history.
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Division I-AA playoffsEdit
|1998||Skip Holtz||First Round
Connecticut has participated in six bowl games, with the Huskies garnering a record of 3–3.
|2004||Randy Edsall||Motor City Bowl||Toledo||W 39–10|
|2007||Randy Edsall||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Wake Forest||L 10–24|
|2008||Randy Edsall||International Bowl||Buffalo||W 38–20|
|2009||Randy Edsall||PapaJohns.com Bowl||South Carolina||W 20–7|
|2010||Randy Edsall||Fiesta Bowl||Oklahoma||L 20–48|
|2015||Bob Diaco||St. Petersburg Bowl||Marshall||L 10–16|
Connecticut has won 25 conference championships, 15 shared and 10 outright.
|Season||Coach||Conference||Overall record||Conference record|
|1901||T. D. Knowles||Athletic League of New England State Colleges||8–2||1–0|
|1924||Sumner Dole||New England Conference||6–0–2||3–0|
|1926†||Sumner Dole||New England Conference||7–1||2–1|
|1928†||Sumner Dole||New England Conference||4–1–3||1–0–2|
|1936||J. Orlean Christian||New England Conference||7–2||2–0|
|1937†||J. Orlean Christian||New England Conference||6–2–1||1–0|
|1942||J. Orlean Christian||New England Conference||6–2||2–0|
|1945||J. Orlean Christian||New England Conference||7–1||2–0|
|1949†||J. Orlean Christian||Yankee Conference||4–4–1||2–0–1|
|1952†||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||5–3||2–1|
|1956||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||6–2–1||3–0–1|
|1957†||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||5–4–1||3–0–1|
|1958||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||7–3||4–0|
|1959||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||6–3||4–0|
|1960†||Robert Ingalls||Yankee Conference||5–4||3–1|
|1968†||John Toner||Yankee Conference||4–6||4–1|
|1970||John Toner||Yankee Conference||4–4–2||4–0–1|
|1971†||Robert Casciola||Yankee Conference||5–3–1||4–1–1|
|1973||Larry Naviaux||Yankee Conference||8–2–1||5–0–1|
|1982†||Walt Nadzak||Yankee Conference||5–6||3–2|
|1983†||Tom Jackson||Yankee Conference||5–6||4–1|
|1986†||Tom Jackson||Yankee Conference||8–3||5–2|
|1989†||Tom Jackson||Yankee Conference||8–3||6–2|
|2007†||Randy Edsall||Big East||9–4||5–2|
|2010†||Randy Edsall||Big East||8–5||5–2|
The Huskies have won one division title, which they shared with UMass.
|Season||Coach||Division||Overall record||Conference record|
|1998 †||Skip Holtz||Atlantic 10 New England||10–3||6–2|
The Yankee Conference rivalry dates back to 1897. The rivalry became dormant in 1999 as UConn moved up to the FBS and UMass remained at the FCS level. UMass finally moved up to FBS and the teams played one game in 2012 a UConn (37–0) win. The rivalry is set to be revived with a 4-game agreement from the 2018 to the 2021 seasons. 2 games will be played at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut and 2 games at the home of the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts., which is 15 miles closer to the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut than it is to the Umass campus in Amherst, Massachusetts
The football rivalry dates back to 1897 and was centered around the Ramnapping Trophy after UConn students stole the URI mascot in 1934. The teams played nearly every year until the end of the Yankee Conference. Once UConn moved up to the FBS, the teams seldom play as Rhode Island remains an FCS program. Since 2000, there have been only 3 meetings; a UConn (52–7) win in 2006, a UConn (52–10) win in 2009, and a back-and-forth 56-49 UConn victory in 2018.
Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler FieldEdit
The Huskies play their home football games at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, an off-campus facility located 20 miles (32 km) to the west of the main campus and only 3 miles east of the new Downtown Hartford-Uconn campus. The inaugural game took place on August 30, 2003 when Connecticut defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 34–10. Since the opening, Connecticut has enjoyed a decided home field advantage, posting a 50–30 record when playing at Rentschler. In 2007, the Huskies completed their home season winning each of their seven home games, becoming only the second Big East team to compile a 7–0 home record. The stadium played to an average of 97% near capacity crowds for eight years (2003–2010), prior to Paul Pasqualoni's arrival and during the Big East.
Burton Family Football ComplexEdit
The Huskies on-campus home is at the Burton Family Football Complex on Stadium Road in Storrs, Connecticut. It contains the coaches offices, team meeting rooms, video facilities, dining hall and student-athlete lounge. Construction began in the fall of 2004 and it officially opened in July 2006. The facilities are considered to be among the best in the country. The building is named after Robert Burton, who in 2002 made a donation of $2.5 million to the University of Connecticut. The original location of the building was to be where Memorial Stadium currently stands. However, it was later decided to construct the building across the street.
Mark R. Shenkman Training CenterEdit
Alongside the Burton Family Football Complex is the 85,000-square-foot (7,900 m2) Mark R. Shenkman Training Center. The indoor training center includes a full-length football field and an 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) strength and conditioning center. The training center was made possible by a $2.5 million gift from Connecticut businessman and UConn alum, Mark Shenkman. Construction of the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center and the Burton Family Football Complex were handled in tandem by HOK Sport + Venue + Event and JCJ Architecture. Upon completion in the summer of 2006, both buildings were granted a LEED silver designation. They are the first buildings on the University of Connecticut campus, and the first football facilities in the nation to be certified as a "green building."
Record vs. Big East teamsEdit
|Boston College||0||1||.000||0–12–2||Lost 12||1908||2017|
|South Florida||5||3||.625||5–11||Lost 7||2000||2018|
|West Virginia||1||7||.125||1–7||Lost 1||2004||2011|
Record vs. AAC teamsEdit
Notable alumni and personnelEdit
Current NFL playersEdit[when?]
Former NFL playersEdit[when?]
Brian Kozlowski AwardEdit
The Brian Kozlowski Award was first awarded in 1998. It honors the former UConn Husky and former New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, & Washington Redskins tight end, Brian Kozlowski, who through hard work, effort and dedication has been able to have a lengthy NFL career.:86