Huskies bringing much-ridiculed trophy to game with UCF
STORRS, Conn. (AP) With the addition of a few tweaks, UConn football coach Bob Diaco is still planning to bring a rivalry trophy with him to Florida on Saturday when the Huskies play UCF.
The coach and his team were the subject of Internet ridicule after his office posted a photo on Twitter in June (http://bit.ly/1F4kDfb) of a trophy it had commissioned for the third annual game between the American Athletic Conference schools, which Diaco had dubbed ''The Civil Conflict,'' a north-south AAC rivalry.
UCF officials played no part in creating a ''rivalry'' game, noting they already have a conference rival in South Florida.
But that has not deterred Diaco, who said this week that a reworked trophy will be at the stadium in Orlando on Saturday when the 2-3 Huskies, who have lost three straight, visit winless UCF (0-5).
Diaco has changed the name of the game from ''The Civil Conflict'' to ''The ConnFLiCT,'' highlighting the states' abbreviations and eliminating the Civil War-like reference ''so as to not offend anyone,'' he said.
The coach said he also took some other criticism to heart, adding to the trophy the score of UCF's 62-17 win over the Huskies on Oct. 26, 2013.
It had previously included only last season's 37-29 UConn upset over the Knights, the Huskies' only win over a Division I opponent a year ago, and UCF's lone conference loss.
Diaco said the trophy is ''something to energize the players and staffs on both sides, hopefully energize the fan bases on both sides so that we can have a great energetic game that is classy and high character, that's clean and with fairness. That's the idea.''
UCF coach George O'Leary said he understands Diaco created the ''rivalry'' as a way to get his team excited about competing on the same level with what had been one of the nation's more successful football programs.
''I don't know if he wants to right now emulate UCF,'' he said. ''But when he did it, we were top dog in the conference.''
Both coaches say getting a win, especially a conference victory is much more of a motivation this week than any trophy.
''The reality of it is that you can create whatever kind of emotion you want to create, it doesn't last,'' Diaco said. ''It is a two-minute deal and after that, the other 58 minutes of football, the most prepared team is going to be the team that wins.''
Associated Press writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report from Orlando, Florida.