October 10, 2011
When Boston College participated in Big East strategizing sessions in 2003 only to covertly depart for the ACC weeks later, UConn coach Jim Calhoun vowed to the Hartford Courant that he would not renew the rivalry with the Eagles.
"We won't play BC after they leave here," Calhoun said at the time. "I have no desire to play Boston College. Not for the fact that they are leaving but how they did it. I will not play Boston College as long as I'm here."
Lingering resentment at Boston College over harsh comments like that one from Calhoun is apparently part of the reason the Huskies don't have an invitation to the more stable ACC.
According to a story in Saturday's Boston Globe, the ACC originally targeted Syracuse and UConn for its plan to expand to 14 members last month, but it eventually dropped the Huskies in favor of Pittsburgh when Boston College expressed objections. Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo was surprisingly candid about the role his school played in keeping UConn out, telling the Globe, "We didn't want them in. It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team."
It's especially galling to UConn fans that Boston College had the power to keep their school out of the ACC for now because the Huskies have eclipsed the Eagles athletically recently. Whereas UConn boasts three national championships in men's basketball, seven in women's basketball and a BCS bowl berth in football last season, Boston College has none of those (though its hockey program may be the nation's best).
Expect UConn to continue to push for an invite to the ACC against Boston College's wishes because that appears to be the school's best option. In addition to the ACC promising more stability and TV revenue, Calhoun appears intrigued with the challenge of being in the same basketball conference as Duke and North Carolina.
"We should always feel indebted to the Big East, but having said that, it's time for us to move forward now," he told the Hartford Courant last month. "I've talked to [UConn President Susan Herbst] about this, and we need to do what's best for our university."
Here's one reason to hope the ACC does invite UConn someday: Watching the Huskies rekindle their suddenly fierce rivalry with Boston College would be a treat for fans in the Northeast.