Is ESPN Responsible for the Rise of UConn?

Written April 11th, 2014 by Charles

Just how much power does ESPN have to determine champions?

Just how much power does ESPN have to determine champions?

As Mali mentioned earlier in the week, the two of us had a discussion during the UConn-Stanford women’s semifinal game about the potential role that ESPN may have played in the rise of Connecticut basketball to the lofty heights of being the only school to win the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in the same year; the Huskies have now accomplished that feet twice, in 2004 and again this year.  We all know how Nike money and favoritism has helped to build Oregon football into a major power and as Mali mentioned, the power of ESPN to shape college football is well known.  This article isn’t meant to be sour grapes or to take anything away from UConn’s impressive accomplishments and the talented players and coaches they have assembled.  Rather, it is meant to look at the power that tv networks can wield on the outcomes of the sports that they cover, something that is increasingly important to be aware of as conference realignment and expansion is now being driven by tv networks (see Big Ten expansion into the New York and DC markets).

Headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN launched in 1979.  Originally intended as a network to cover all sports in the state of Connecticut, the focus was changed to national sports coverage due to the affordability of distributing the network broadcast nationally via satellite.  Despite struggling financially in its early years, ESPN began to become a major force in the sports world with the signing of contracts with the professional sports leagues: the NBA in 1982, the USFL in 1983, and ultimately the NFL in 1987.  These contracts, along with the contract that ESPN had signed with the NCAA upon the network’s inception, set the sports network on the path to becoming the dominant media influence in modern sports.

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Ohio State Becomes Latest Victim of Connecticut, 70-49

Written December 1st, 2013 by Charles

UConn's athleticism inside was too much for Ohio State.

UConn’s athleticism inside was too much for Ohio State.

After bouncing back from their second loss of the season with a win over Lehigh, the Ohio State women’s basketball team faced their biggest challenge of the season today as they took on top ranked Connecticut in Springfield, Massachusetts in the premier game of the first annual women’s Hall of Fame Challenge.  The Huskies entered this game 8-0 and boasting an average margin of victory of nearly 40 points which included games against #6 Stanford, #8 Maryland, and #13 Penn State; UConn’s average margin of victory in those games was 18 points.

Both teams opened the game with a very deliberate tempo, moving the ball around on offense and working to get good looks though good defense by both squads limited those looks early.  Connecticut scored the first four points of the game before Martina Ellerbe got things going for the Buckeyes with a three pointer and Ameryst Alston followed with a layup to give OSU a 5-4 lead.  The Huskies responded with six straight points to retake the lead.  A jumper and a free throw by Alston would pull the Buckeyes within two, 10-8, with eleven minutes remaining in the half but Connecticut responded with a 10 to 2 run to extend their lead to double digits, 20-10.  Ellerbe’s second three pointer of the night would make that lead 20-15 with four and a half to go but then the Huskie defense locked down as they closed the half on a 15 to 2 run to go into the half leading 35-17.

The second half mostly played out as an exercise in the inevitable as Ohio State never managed to seriously threaten Connecticut.  The Huskies extended their lead to 21 on a couple occasions and the Buckeyes managed to get as close as 14, 50-36, with eight minutes to play but for the most part the two teams traded baskets.  When the final buzzer sounded, UConn had a 70-49 win.

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Basketball LiveBlog: National Pillowfight

Written April 4th, 2011 by Eric

Welcome to the last liveblog of the 2010-2011 Basketball Season!  Today’s game pits the 8 seed Butler Bulldogs and the 3 seed Connecticut Huskies who finished the season ranked 9th in the Big East.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the National Championship is a Pillowfight!

Come join all of your favorite bloggers as we watch these teams struggle for the highest honor in College Basketball.  It should be quite the party!

The game starts at 9:00 PM Eastern Time, the LiveBlog will go at 8:30 PM (despite what the CoveritLive box says).  Hope to see you all here!

Fiesta Bowl: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma

Written December 31st, 2010 by Jay

Don’t forget to join us on Saturday for our All Day Livechat! We promise to talk about HGTV’s Rose Parade coverage if that will help your decision making…

Connecticut (8-4, 5-2 Big East) vs.
Oklahoma (11-2, 6-2 Big 12)
January 1, 2011 8:30 PM EST ESPN*

*Don’t forget to check out the marathon live blog on The Buckeye Battle Cry for all the New Year’s Day bowl game action!

History: The 40th playing of the Fiesta Bowl matches the Connecticut Huskies against the Oklahoma Sooners.  Since 2007 the game has been played in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix stadium, which contains a natural grass playing field (or, if you’re really a turf enthusiast, it’s Tifway 419 Bermuda hybrid planted in early May 2006 using stolons in an 11″ bed of USGA sand mix with inclusions, according to the bowl’s official website).  The Big 12 currently is the chosen conference to send a representative each year, and it’s well worth it, as both attending schools receive a payout of $17 million.

The University of Phoenix stadium - where you need to be able to trust the guy who's in charge of the "Move Field Out Of Stadium" switch

Arizona State won the inaugural Fiesta Bowl back in 1971, as well as the games in 1972, 1973, and 1975.  Ohio State appeared in its first Fiesta Bowl in 1980, a 31-19 loss to Penn State.  The Buckeyes rebounded with a victory over Pittsburgh on January 2, 1984 (coincidentally, the day of my birth – how appropriate!).  Ohio State would not visit Arizona for the game again until that fateful night in 2003 that resulted in a double-overtime victory over the Miami Hurricanes and our first national championship in over 30 years.  Last year’s contest pitted Boise State against TCU, and ended in a relatively low-scoring 17-10 win for the Broncos.

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The Week That Were: 11.27.10

Written November 28th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

Here’s the soundtrack for this week’s journey through the recent past. It’s from one of my favorite artists, and the greatest Thanksgiving movie ever ANDIWILLFIGHTYOUIFYOUDISAGREE. Ahem.

Although I usually don’t take requests, I almost made an exception for Coach Rodriguez.

What a great week of football- three days worth of collegiate goodness, interspersed with some NFL stuff, lots of food, and the occasional neighborhood game. Although, this year things ended up being a little messy.

There, there... let it all out...

I guess you could say that the mess all started on Thursday, when our friends in burnt orange managed to lose their rivalry game against the Aggies.  As you can imagine, the good folks at Shaggy Bevo are taking this well, particularly given that most of the losses happened in Austin.

The Longhorn’s collapse is the first time in recent memory that a team has gone from the BCS championship game to not even being bowl eligible.  As a “fun fact”; this BCS season will be without the following names: Pete Carroll, Mack Brown, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Les Miles, with the jury still out on whether Bobby Stoops gets an invite.  You know who’s going to be at the BCS Ball?  Jim Tressel.  Again.

Fridays’ games were just as exciting, with Auburn performing the “Greatest Iron Bowl Comeback Ever To Be Vacated” against ‘Bama after being down 21-0 in the first quarter.  Granted, Alabama QB McElroy was injured in the second half, but the Tide followed their protocol and inserted the next person with the same haircut. Read More

Connecticut at Michigan Liveblog!

Written September 4th, 2010 by Eric

You must be thinking “have I gone crazy?  Is tBBC really doing a Michigan Liveblog!?”  Well, let me help you out.

You’re not crazy, we absolutely are.

With today being the first saturday of college football, and the Buckeye game has come and gone, we wanted there to be a place for Buckeye fans to hang out and chat during the games. What better time then during our rival’s battle?

Come join us for the fun!

The Week That Were: 9.19.09

Written September 21st, 2009 by MaliBuckeye

previously on TWTW…

Here’s the soundtrack for today’s journey in the past. And no, unlike some people, it’s not really Journey.

Arrr, yesterday’s games fell on the national holiday o’ “Talk Like a Pirate Day“. Should we be surprised, then, that the upset o’ the day happened at a place whar people show up in boats? Ahoy, and it warn’t the team that we expected t’ see success.  In Piratey news, East Carolina lost to North Carolina. Great Neptune’s mandibles!!

Ok, that’s enough.

But, like TLAPD, the U$C choke to an unranked conference team should become a national holiday, since it happens more frequently than leap year. And given that 5 of the last 6 of these losses have come on the road in the Northwet, there must be something more significant going on. Perhaps the Curse of DB Cooper or something.

Nevertheless, the Trojan Tragedy has sent ripples throughout the college football world. In Los Angeles, fingers are pointing at Surfer Pete, asking again why the coach is unable to keep his team focused. Granted, the starting QB and safety were banged up, but given U$C’s deep pockets of five star talent you’d think they’d be able to beat a team that was 1-15 in their last sixteen games. A team of young men recruited by Ty Willingham. Hmmm… where have we heard that before?

While a post game let-down is to be expected, it didn’t hamper Ohio State who headed to Cleveland and shut out the #5 team in NCAA offense. Toledo, fresh off of their clown stomping of Colorado, was held to 210 total yards and 13 yards rushing. Ohio State’s rebound included 370 yards of offense from “Lebron in Cleats”. Mich1gAAn fans? That’s how you beat Toledo.

To celebrate the “Mistake by the Lake” and the Ohio State recovery, the AP poll decided to drop USC from 3 to 12, and bump tOSU from 11 to… 13. The Buckeyes were jumped by Chokelahoma, who took care of Tulsa on Saturday. However, the team that handed OU their loss got pummeled at home; BYU lost 54-28 to Free Shoes University. And yet, the Sooners didn’t suffer due to the loss of the team that beat them… This, among other things, is the reason that we need to do away with polls until October. But you knew this already.

Around the mid-west, Mich1gAAn managed to cruise against a directional school after struggling in the first half. Notre Ame was the beneficiary of back to back boneheaded decisions by MAChigan State’s sophomore QB, first overthrowing a wide open receiver in the end zone, then sealing the game with an interception at or near the endzone. Penn State continued their “Hosting Hostess” tour, although they did allow Temple to score on their vaunted defense.

SEC action witnessed Auburn holding off the weather and WVa (rats- a burning couch goes great with rain), Arkansas falling to Georgia in a shootout, Calipari’s scandal defeating Pitino’s scandal, and Florida eventually getting around to beating Tennessee in the “our orange is uglier than yours” festival. MSU beat Vandy (really?), and LSU squashed some other team from Cajunland. Old Miss and Alabama combined for 105 points in their wins.

The Huskers lost a well fought road game against a very good Hokie team in the final minutes. True conversation between my beloved and I: Her- “Wow, it’s such a tough loss when you’re winning the whole game and then it falls apart in the last seconds”. Me- “I wouldn’t know what that was like at all.”

Other Big 12 action: Rice couldn’t stick to TBPU, Kansas State blew their one chance to shine in the Rose Bowl, Colorado won while Baylor fell to UConn, Rock Chalk pounded the Cameron Crazies, and the Pirate Cap’n missed out on an opportunity to do Blackbeard proud.

On the Left Coast, toOSU played football from Ohio with predictable results, Washington State won (I know, right?), and Oregon unveiled yet another hideous ensemble in their upset of the Utes. Cal’s Jahvid Best looked to be just that against a chippy Minnesota Team opening their new stadium. Arizona evened the “Big T1e1n Pac Ten challenge” at one each by falling to Iowa.

Elsewheres- TCU continues to roll, Syracuse beat Northwestern in this week’s “They have football teams?” bowl, and Pepperdine remains undefeated. Oh, and this has to be the worst idea of the week- UCF planned a tribute for the African American members of Buffalo’s 1958 team, who rejected a bid to the Tangerine Bowl because their darker hued teammates weren’t allowed to play. Coincidentally, UCF also scheduled a “White Out” for that date, and asked their fans to come dressed in all white. Good thinking.

Small schools update: Bacone got fried by Howard Payne, 56-7.

This week’s games include an  Ohio State/Illinois matchup that will prove how much Ron Zook can screw up his team if given a buy week, and an important Kentucky/Florida clash, if the Gators are healthy enough to show up. Maybe St. Tebow can heal them… although, I’m not sure I’d trust his medical experience. Mich1gAAn hosts Indiana, and Kansas welcomes Bret Favrere’s alma mater. Cal and Oregon square off, Nebraska gets whatever’s left from LSU’s blowout, and the marquee game is Miami and Va Tech in a Big lEast showdown. Texas plays UTEP, TBPU welcomes Eddie Robinson’s school, and TCU travels to Clemson. Washington faces off against Stanford, while the Cougs get to be the rebound team for U$C. Notre Ame has to face a Purdon’t team that just lost to a MAC team… That’s not going to end well.

And now, some inspiration for those underachievers in Block O:

High school students. Just sayin’.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen

Written August 2nd, 2009 by Jeff

Here at The BBC, we take great pleasure in mocking Michigan fans. For longer than I care to remember, they had the upper hand on us, having won 10 out of 13 games over Ohio State (thank you, John Cooper)…..and they were arrogant about it.

In my world, payback’s a bitch. So I have no qualms whatsoever about pointing out their feeble attempts to remain relevant in the college football world (and especially in The Rivalry).

The latest laugh I have had at Michigan fans involves their opener for the 2010 football season. When Michigan’s Athletic Department announced that a new opener was being signed to a contract, the denizens of Ann Arbor found themselves in a frenzy of joy. They actually labeled it as “a real opponent“, and Brian at MGoBlog rattled off a long list of teams that were possible and/or likely to be the mystery opponent. Among the potential opponents;

  • LSU
  • Cal
  • Oklahoma State
  • Georgia
  • Oregon State

All of them quality opponents with a lot to offer both Michigan and the college football world.  Any of these would be big, big news.

Imagine my laughter when the word escaped that the home-and-home BIG BIG announcement was that Michigan would open 2010 by playing host to…..Connecticut.

As an admittedly biased Ohio State fan, even I would begin to tout the benefits of playing Connecticut if the tables were turned….but the discussion has gone from biased fan to sycophantic worship in Wolverineville.

Today, the aforementioned Michigan blog actually posted the phrase “Kudos to Martin for scheduling the Huskies.” They struggled so hard to make it seem like Connecticut was THE best choice for Michigan football. Among the other “ZOMG this is teh AWESOME” points from that blog up north;

  • Praising UConn’s 34-29 record over the past five years, despite that barely-over .500 record being compiled in the Big East.
  • Having a 2-1 record in bowl games. They failed to mention who they defeated in bowls. Their wins? Against Buffalo in the International Bowl, and Toledo in the Glass Bowl. Wow.
  • They posted a picture of a player at Connecticut. That player doesn’t even play at UConn anymore.

But the most asinine comment of the day was used against Michigan fans who were reminding everyone that at least Ohio State plays USC and Penn State will play Alabama.

…it is far harder to schedule and defeat a big-name opponent in real life than it is in a video game (I note your examples of Alabama-Penn State, and Ohio State-USC and counter with the seven mediocre opponents that PSU and OSU combine for OOC this year).

You can “note” an example of USC all you want, guys…but guess who is among those “seven mediocre opponents” that MGoBlog is pooh-poohing???

Please take note that the previous game was played back when Sam McGuffie was still considered “tough”.

Actually, having re-watched that highlight of Michigan losing to Toledo (at home), maybe Michigan should have gone with an easier opponent. UConn might embarrass the Weenies after all.