— UConn freshman Sydney Cotto admits she hasn't gotten much schoolwork done lately. Tuesday, she was in Nashville playing her tuba as a member of the school band as the women's basketball team won its ninth national title. She returned to Storrs midweek as the campus celebrated the men's and women's championships. Saturday, she was at Rentschler Field helping bring in a new era of UConn football — all of this before capping the week with the parade in Hartford Sunday.
"It was crazy; it is just so exciting that we have two great basketball teams," said Cotto. "Personally, I'm really looking forward to football season because I think Bob Diaco is going to do a really good job. ... It has been a really exciting week for everyone up at UConn."
Cotto and many other UConn supporters turned out Saturday for the Blue-White spring football game, some setting up tailgates hours before kickoff. The fan excitement surrounding UConn athletics has reached epic levels with the men's and women's basketball teams joining the field hockey team in winning national titles this school year.
But a day before the parade to honor the championship basketball teams, fans' attention turned to football. First-year coach Diaco has breathed new life into a program that fell flat in 2013, and fans were eager to get their first look at what the young, energetic coach can bring to the Huskies sideline.
"[Diaco] just seems high energy and really committed to the fans as well," said Tim St. James of Enfield, who has been a season-ticket holder for the last six years. "For lack of a better term, I think he is going to bring energy to a team that looks like that's what they've been missing."
Fans didn't want to point fingers at former coach Paul Pasqualoni and his staff for the team's drop-off following the Huskies' 2011 Fiesta Bowl appearance. Many fans said they hoped the momentum gained from UConn's three-game winning streak at the end of last season will have a carry-over effect.
"I see them building off that," Tim McIntosh of Enfield said. "They are going to move forward — definitely a .500-plus season."
But that isn't to say fans aren't itching for changes. Most pointed to the quarterback shuffling and the lack of commitment to a running game as their biggest disappointments with last year's team. Saturday's scrimmage gave fans their first look into Diaco's vision of the Huskies offense.
"The fact that we didn't have a running game last year, coming off of previous years, was probably the most disappointing thing," said St. James. "We used to be able to run the ball against anybody and to not be able to do that last year was kind of frustrating."
Making his way through the parking lots Saturday and mingling with fans was one of the men who could help rejuvenate that running game: incoming freshman tailback Brice McAllister from Suffield Academy.
"It is pretty cool knowing that Jordan Todman and Donald Brown all came here, and hopefully I can follow in their footsteps," McAllister said. "I'm definitely going to be watching Coach Diaco. I heard he is a very energetic coach, so I'll be watching how he gets after it."
UConn fans have certainly been partying and getting after it in the past week. Senior Angelika Stamos was in Texas for the men's championship and at Rentschler on Saturday and was planning to be in Hartford for the parade.
"UConn is proving to all the doubters that we are a dynasty," she said. "Every team — men's and women's — has its moments. Once they find their groove, they're a force to be reckoned with. We are all excited to see Coach Diaco put UConn football back on the map."Copyright © 2015, CT Now