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Pretty much any time you meet someone for the first time in this state, you’ll hear this question:

“Are you Alabama or Auburn?”

My answer is one people don’t expect: “I didn’t attend either school.”

“But who do you root for?”

“I hope they both do well. It’s nice when the state has a championship team.”

This of course leaves the person with a puzzled look. So let me explain. Because I come from a state that never has a championship team.

I attended the University of Connecticut, located in the middle-of-nowhere town of Storrs. Which we all referred to as “Snores” since it was a boring place with nothing to do. It’s UConn for short, though before it became a basketball powerhouse, people assumed I meant “Yukon” when I mentioned my alma mater and figured I went to school in Alaska or Canada. Naturally, the school mascot is a husky dog. Get it?

UConn was not, like most schools in the northeast, a football powerhouse. In fact, football was more like an afterthought.

The first day of my senior year a freshman wearing a UConn football jersey strutted into the dorm cafeteria like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He sat down with a group of young women at the next table, so we got to listen in and wait for the inevitable takedown.

He introduced himself, thinking he was the proverbial big man on campus, then of course proudly mentioned that he was on the football team.

The women giggled. One said, “I wouldn’t brag about that if I were you.”

Yes, the team was pretty much a perennial loser. No one in my dorm ever went to a game, no one talked about the team. Everyone was an NFL fan. Saturdays were about what to eat for dinner since the dorm didn’t serve food on weekends.

I’ve always said I never went to a game, but recently when someone asked me about New Haven, Connecticut, I remembered something I had long forgotten. The time some friends and I actually went to a UConn football game. Well, for a few minutes anyway.

We were hanging around when a friend mentioned we had never been to a game. “Want to take a road trip?”

“Where?” I asked.

“UConn is playing Yale. Yale Bowl in New Haven.”

There was a better reason to go to New Haven; the legendary pizza joints. I really had no desire to watch college football, especially bad college football, but there was another factor. We hated Yalies.

Oh, did we. They often descended on the UConn campus Saturday nights, always saying we had better parties and dances. Arriving in ridiculously expensive cars, these trust fund snobs acted like we were commoners. And every time they’d get drunk, end up in one of our poker games, bet stupid, and lose all their money since Daddy would always give them more. Once in the middle of winter, we heard they were coming to streak (run naked) around the women’s dorm so we greeted them with a few hundred chilled water balloons.

So hating Yale was an incentive. What the heck, it was a beautiful fall day and wouldn’t cost us anything. (No one ever actually paid for UConn tickets since there had always been free ones available.) Of course, we didn’t know a thing about the team except that they usually lost. Questions arose on the way.

“Are they a passing team or running team?”

“They run the prevent offense. I hear their best play is the forward fumble.”

“Does UConn have a fight song?”

“I think it’s a surrender song.”

I looked it up. Not something I want as a ringtone:

Connecticut, Connecticut Husky, Connecticut Husky

Connecticut C-O-N-N-U!

A lot of thought went into writing that one, huh? Then again, the Yale song was worse:

Bulldog!  Bulldog!

Bow, wow, wow.

Anyway, we arrived at Yale Bowl — a concrete dump built in 1914 that had a capacity of 70,000 — laughing as we passed Ivy League tailgaters sipping wine and eating cucumber sandwiches. We took our seats in the mostly empty stadium just as the announcer introduced the starting Yale team. 

I turned to my buddy. “Their quarterback’s first name is Stone? That is sooooo Ivy League.”

Turned out it was future network TV anchor Stone Phillips. 

We quickly got bored with the poor quality of play and didn’t stay very long, lured by the prospect of great pizza. We later found out that UConn had, of course, lost.

I looked up some stats from that year. The team went 2-9, and drew a whopping 5,880 at a home game. Then I checked the recent stats. In the last three years, the team went 1-11, 2-10, and 1-11. Their one win last year… Yale! 

So if Alabama or Auburn needs to schedule a sure thing for a homecoming game in the future, they know where to look. Just imagine the point spread.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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