Thursday, August 30, 2012

UMass-UConn Football Rivalry Should Continue

By Zach Baru

Tonight's UMass-UConn football season opener at Rentschler Field may not have been the way the Minutemen wanted to begin their history in FBS on the field, but off the field it was still a success.  The game was available on ESPN3 and SNY, a sports station in New York comparable to Comcast Sports Net New England, giving UMass halfway decent media exposure.  As for attendance, the 35,270 fans did not benefit UMass financially, but it showed UConn that the Minutemen can bring in a large crowd, especially for a Thursday night.

Hopefully that will be enough to persuade UConn to make this game a yearly rivalry.  Now that there no longer is a UMass-UConn basketball game every year, these two schools who have history and are so close to each other, can build off this game to make it a success for both sides.

This game could become a nice tradition for a non-conference game early in the season. And if UMass pulls off a winning season, there would be more buzz next year for a rematch.  An agreement between the two teams to alternate host schools each year would be similar to the basketball teams' agreement during the last decade, which gave UMass an opportunity to be on ESPN.  If UMass were to host UConn at Gillette Stadium, the game could easily draw 25,000 fans, which this year UMass would be happy to get.

Combine this with already scheduled games versus Boston College in the years to come, and UMass football could have two regional rivalries that would help out at the box office, and get better media exposure.  Why not take advantage of the other FBS programs in the region?  If UMass and UConn were able to work together, they could benefit from each other, filling the seats year after year.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at

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