HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn football coach Bob Diaco has created a trophy and countdown clock, saying Monday he doesn’t need UCF’s permission to manufacture a rivalry game with the Knights.
Diaco’s office last week posted a picture on Twitter (http://bit.ly/1F4kDfb ) of a trophy he had commissioned for the annual game between the American Athletic Conference schools, which he has dubbed “The Civil Conflict.” Above the trophy was a clock marking the amount of time until the Oct. 10 game in Orlando.
“First day back on campus for #UConnFootball! And just 130 days until the next Civil Conflict with @UCF_Football !” the post read.
The “rivalry” appeared to catch UCF by surprise. The school issued a statement saying it did not have any involvement in the creation of the trophy or an annual rivalry game with UConn. UCF coach George O’Leary told reporters prior to a speaking engagement in Orlando last week he knew nothing about the “Civil Conflict.”
“My experience is you’re more likely to have a rivalry against a team closer to where you live,” he said. “When you go 10 states away, I think it’s hard.”
Diaco said Monday he didn’t feel any need to consult with UCF before getting the trophy made and announcing he had named the game. UConn spokesman Mike Enright said “Civil Conflict” is a reference to UConn being the northern most university in the conference and UCF being “one of the most southern.”
“They don’t get to say whether they’re our rival or not,” Diaco told reporters during a Monday conference call. “We might not be their rival, but they don’t get to say whether they’re our rival. That’s for us to decide.”
Diaco first mentioned the possibility of a trophy game and the name “Civil Conflict” after the Huskies beat UCF 37-29 at Rentschler Field last season. It was the Huskies’ only win over a Division I opponent, and the Knights’ lone conference loss.
The score of that game is so far the only one on the trophy, which has slots for nameplates commemorating future games. The teams have only played twice, with UCF winning 62-17 over the Huskies on October 26, 2013. Diaco said that score isn’t on the trophy because the game predates his arrival in Storrs.
It’s not clear what will happen to the trophy after the Oct. 10 game. UCF spokesman Brian Ormiston was asked if the Knights would take possession of the trophy should they win.
“That is something we can only answer if we were in discussions with UConn,” he said.
But whether or not the two schools are talking to each other, the game is generating chatter, four months before it is to be played. And that, said Diaco, is kind of the point.
“For us it’s exciting and I think it’s fun,” he said. “If you embrace it, you embrace it. If you don’t, you don’t. There was nothing before, so if you don’t embrace it there would still be nothing. And if you do, even a little bit, it’s more energetic and exciting.”
This story has been corrected to show the tweet came from Diaco’s office, not Diaco himself.