There's plenty to be excited about if you're a fan of the UConn men's basketball team. They landed the best high school recruit in the country for this season in Andre Drummond, Jim Calhoun will continue to coach, and, oh yeah, the Huskies are defending national champions.
But it's not all unicorns and rainbows in Storrs. As recently as four months ago, the program got a slap on the wrist from the NCAA for its poor academic record (it ended up costing the Huskies three scholarships for 2011-12), and two months before that, the NCAA suspended Calhoun for the first three games of the Big East schedule for recruiting violations.
And now that the 2011-12 schedule has been released, we know exactly which games Calhoun will be forced to sit out: at South Florida on Dec. 28, vs. St John's on Dec. 31 and at Seton Hall on Jan. 3.
Not exactly the murderers' row of Big East basketball. Calhoun will return to the bench on January 7 for the Rutgers game.
ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan writes that "Those are hardly the most compelling contests on UConn's schedule. South Florida and Seton Hall are expected to finish near the bottom of the Big East race in 2012, and though St. John's boasts one of the deepest and most talented recruiting classes in the country, it also lost 10 seniors and will be the youngest team in the country in 2012."
And ESPN's Andy Katz spoke with associate Big East commissioner Dan Gavitt Wednesday, who said Calhoun's suspension played no part in UConn's schedule.
“It was not taken into consideration in the scheduling process,’’ Gavitt said.
Of course, if the Huskies opened with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Louisville, we'd be hearing how the schedule was rigged to punish Calhoun and UConn. But as Brennan notes: "Like most conferences, the Big East schedules with the help of a computer formula, which allows the league to factor in the games reserved for major TV networks like ESPN and CBS, the balance of both halves of the schedule, as well as other mitigating factors. (For example, no team may play more than four games in a row on the road.) The Big East constructed this year's schedule no differently than any other year."
And if the decision is to stick to a coach, team or fan base versus making more money, you can rest assured that money will win out every time.