The UConn football team is taking some heat for its contrived rivalry with UCF and understandably so. The two schools are separated by 1,200 miles and little football history. And yet the Huskies' tweeted this out on Monday:
— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) June 1, 2015
But the rivalry is so secretive that not even Central Florida knew about it (or at least wasn't willing to admit so publicly).
Just checked w/ @UCF_Football: "We have no involvement with the trophy or creating a rivalry game with UConn." They were surprised by tweet.
— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) June 1, 2015
Of course, this led to the predictable backlash on Twitter and in the blogosphere, but there is an explanation (of sorts). SNY.com's John Silver explains:
"When UConn beat UCF — the team that won the Fiesta Bowl a year prior — [last] season UConn head coach Bob Diaco pitched an idea about a rivalry game to UCF coach George O’Leary, who was receptive to the idea. ...
"UConn and UCF’s athletic departments have had no discussions about making the game a rivalry game. UCF responded to a request for comment on Monday denying being a part of the game. UConn hasn’t approached UCF’s athletic department about an official rivalry game.
"The game also isn’t sanctioned by UConn’s communications or marketing departments. It was generated by Diaco and the football staff alone.
So, yes, this is clearly an attempt to manufacture some interest in what has been an otherwise lackluster college football experience. The best way to do that is by fielding a good team, which is Diaco's primary goal, but to also create interest where there previously wasn't any. The problem: It's hard to get hyped for a game between two middling FBS programs with nothing in common.
That said, whichever team is victorious in the "Civil Conflict" this fall will get a fancy trophy. So there's that.