UConn needs an on campus football stadium

‘We don’t deserve the sad state of sobriety that ensues on the seemingly eternal bus ride back to campus after a tough loss’

With the emergence of fiery young head coach Bob Diaco and the school’s first bowl game appearance in 5 years, the strength of UConn’s once laughable football program is steadily gaining momentum. But there is a missing piece to the program’s formula for success. An on campus stadium.

In today’s game, it is nearly impossible to think of a team that has been consistently dominant without the advantage of an on campus stadium. Recruits crave the lunacy and passion of a stadium packed with thousands of inebriated students roaring after every play.

They dream of being the big man on campus, not the big man 45 minutes away from campus. UConn will never be a football powerhouse like Alabama or Ohio State, but a stadium on campus is a step in the right direction.

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Just look at what’s happened to Miami’s football program since their on campus stadium, The Orange Bowl, was demolished in 2008. The Hurricanes were once the most feared and admired team in college football: recruiting stars like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Warren Sapp, Frank Gore, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, and of course Dwayne “the rock” Johnson.

Now Miami football is a shell of what they once were. They have yet to win a conference title or even a bowl game since moving to Sun Life Stadium, and can no longer compete with surrounding teams for the immense talent that the state of Florida has to offer.

The bottom line is that top recruits want to go to “football schools” and “football schools” show their dedication to the sport by making it part of their identity. They have an atmosphere that is fixated entirely on football and that kind of environment cannot be achieved without an on campus stadium.

UConn needs to learn from schools like Baylor, Temple, and Colorado State who are making serious strides toward bringing a stadium to their respective campuses. “No one’s even talking about a Stadium in Storrs. It’s a joke” said outspoken junior Alex Wittstein. UConn’s Rentschler Field is the second furthest home stadium from campus in the entire FBS, so why isn’t the switch to a more central location even being considered?

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Some loyal UConn fans out there might be thinking, who cares about football, UConn is and always will be a basketball school. That may be true, but the former ineptitude of our football program has had its effect on basketball. Who could possibly forget the old glory days of the Big East when we would play teams like Syracuse, Georgetown, and Villanova on a regular basis. Now we are forced to play in the godforsaken AAC where teams are scattered all over the country and our only real competition is SMU and Cincinnati.

Surely, the ACC would’ve gladly accepted UConn if the decision was based on basketball, but football brings in the big bucks and it’s no secret that the ACC deemed our football program unworthy of its illustrious conference.

Winning games and attracting recruits is the name of the game, but what an on campus stadium really comes down to is the students. We aren’t paying top dollar to travel a total of an hour and thirty minutes to watch a fairly average football team take the field on Saturdays.

Students deserve the privilege of walking out of their dorms to find a thriving tailgate where they can then walk straight to the game. We don’t deserve the sad state of sobriety that ensues on the seemingly eternal bus ride back to campus after a tough loss. Anyone who has taken that bus freshman year knows it is filled with silence and miserable faces. Attendance plummets after that first game because students simply don’t want to deal with traveling all the way to East Hartford.

They’re more than willing to show their support for the football team, but right now many of them simply feel disconnected and need a way for football to become a part of UConn’s identity.
With UConn’s recent and continuous growth it is time to give the students a football program worth cheering for that provides the players with an atmosphere that will inspire greatness.

It is time for UConn to join the likes of Florida and Wisconsin who continue to prove that both their basketball and football programs are worth mentioning. It is time for an on campus stadium.

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