UConn battles Louisville (on and off field)

Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni watches a replay against South Florida during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

John F. Silver

UConn and Louisville were going to be the topic this week regardless of conference realignment with the Huskies slated to head down to Louisville on Saturday.

Now, with Maryland and Rutgers off to the Big Ten and a spot open to the ACC the Huskies and Cardinals’ game on Saturday will only be a sideshow to the real battles between the school — on the phone and in the boardroom.

Louisville and UConn are the two top targets to replace Maryland in the ACC turning  Saturday’s important conference game  into a bit of a circus.

There is a lot of play for even in the football portion of the game as the Huskies, at 4-6 coming off a win over Pittsburgh then a bye week, will take on 9-1 Louisville, which needs a victory to create a showdown with Rutgers for the Big East title the following week.

The Huskies will try and focus on football while the Big East continues to fall apart around them. UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni is the conference leader in victories and in his last year at Syracuse played in a 7-team Big East. UConn was in its first year then and now is the longest continuous football member. Temple was kicked out in 2004 and was added again last year. The other five? Three are gone to the ACC in Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh while West Virginia is in the Big 12 and Rutgers in the Big 10.

Times are a changing and Saturday’s game will have that specter hanging over both schools.

Pasqualoni, perhaps smartly, hasn’t had time to reflect on it.

” I think in this day and age, and it’s been this way forever, the only thing in life for sure is change,” Pasqualoni said. “We all go through that. It’s part of life and athletics is one segment of it. We are no different than other areas of our society where there is change. For me, personally, I have such tunnel vision and am so narrow minded at this point of season, — I am not proud of that — it’s hard for me to think about focus on anything else but what we got to get done to get ready to play and give the kids a chance. All of these things would be decided at a much higher level than the head coach.  I know the people we have in charge here will do what is best for University of Connecticut. I have tremendous confidence in that.”

What does Pasqualoni want to happen?

” I want what’s best for University  of Connecticut and the State of Connecticut. I want the same thing that everybody else in Connecticut wants. Once again, people here and in the State of Connecticut can rest assured that the people in charge are going to do what’s best. That’s all I can say.”
The Huskies can’t control their conference fate on Saturday, but they can control their bowl fate. UConn needs to upset No. 19 Louisville and then Cincinnati the following week to get to bowl eligibility. The Huskies are 1-19 all-time against ranked teams and will have Louisville sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater to deal with.   Bridegwater has passed for 2,858 yards and 21 touchdowns with only five interceptions. He’s an athletic quarterback who can throw on the run, perhaps when he’s most dangerous.
“One thing I do like about his game is he always stays composed and moves fluently in the pocket,” senior linebacker Sio Moore said. ” He doesn’t look at the rush, he feels it. As coach showed us earlier he’s a competent player and moves well. we have to condense the the pocket. “
The UConn secondary knows the challenge.
“It’s a huge challenge, he’s probably the best quarterback we have faced this year,” safety Ty-Meer Brown said. “We are going to see how good we are as a defense and we have to step up to the challenge. “
The Huskies have their work cut out on the field. As far as off the field? That’s a bigger battle that won’t end on Saturday.