The University of Connecticut has made it official. The Huskies will begin play as an FBS Independent starting with the 2020 season.
The school released an announcement on Friday, making official something that had been strongly rumored and assumed ever since it became public knowledge that they planned to leave the American Athletic Conference.
UConn will move all sports except football, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and rowing to the Big East starting in 2020. The AAC was not willing to keep the Huskies on as a football only member, forcing the program to go the independent route.
The end of their membership in the AAC means that UConn athletics director David Benedict has a lot of work to do over the next 13 months filling out a football schedule that has just four games currently on it:
09/03 – UMass
09/12 – at Illinois
09/19 – Maine
09/26 – Indiana
So just which schools should Benedict be on the phone with? Here’s a list of schools (excluding AAC programs) that still have holes remaining in their 2020 schedules:
Florida State (1)
Virginia Tech (1)
South Carolina (1)
Florida International (2)
Louisiana Tech (1)
Old Dominion (1)
Southern Miss (1)
Air Force (1)
Coastal Carolina (1)
Filling out their 2020 schedule, even with this many teams still having holes to fill, isn’t going to be easy.
The most difficult thing for UConn is going to be getting home games. Most of the teams with one opening in their non-conference schedules are already playing at least one game away from home and won’t be looking to add another. Also, many of those holes are likely to be filled with home games against FCS teams, if they aren’t already. That means going after teams with two spots left to fill would be smart.
The other issue is money. UConn’s athletic department has been running in the red at a deficit of more than $40 million. Throw in the $17 million fee to exit the ACC, and they’re going to be looking for some money games. Those will be harder to get from group of five programs who aren’t exactly rolling in the green either.
The first couple of seasons of independence are likely to be rough for UConn football and filled with travel. However, in the long-run, UConn will likely look to schedule more games against opponents closer to home, as opposed to playing conference opponents all the way in Oklahoma and Texas, making life a little easier on their football program.