Maybe it took someone as cheeky as Auriemma, with as much chutzpah as the Hall of Fame coach, to finally say what so many in his conference believe. Or maybe it took someone as uniquely positioned as theUConn women's basketball coach, armed with seven national titles, to know he can get away with it.
"The only thing you're sure of is they don't play [football] in our league and never want to play in our league," Auriemma said. "For a lot of us, it's a huge problem.
"They've been in our league something like  years. How long are we going to date before we just decide this ain't working? I'm not happy about it. That's not the opinion of UConn, the Big East Conference, my president, my AD. That's just Geno Auriemma's opinion. I'm pissed about it."
UConn's Susan Herbst and none of her fellow conference presidents could get away with saying such provocative things. UConn's Paul Pendergast and none of his fellow conference athletic directors could either. They have to play the game, play nice, even as the Big East fights for survival. Commissioner John Marinatto isn't going to say boo and neither is anybody else in the Providence offices. Heaven forbid they offend Notre Dame, we know, we know, they bring so much in all the other sports.
Heck, I'm willing to bet no Big East football or men's basketball coach would risk saying it, either. The payback isn't often pretty. Twitter feeds and on-line reports had barely hit when the predictable cheap shots surfaced in message boards, Tweets, and newspaper comment sections … Tell Geno he's too chicken to coach men's basketball … Who's Gena Ariemmoma? …
That's right. Show the world your IQ with anonymous jokes about women's basketball and his name and football arrogance that he's a nobody. A nobody inducted in the Hall of Fame next to Red Auerbach, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. At any rate, Auriemma knows the brickbats come with the territory and after three decades in the public eye, his own smartass is as tough as leather.
But you know what? The Big East ought to thank him. If the conference is going to fall apart, it sure as heck isn't going to be saved by Notre Dame playing every Big East sport except football. The conference is in a time of great need. It's looking more than 2,500 miles to Boise State to save it. It's looking to Air Force and SMU and Houston to bolster a conference desperately fighting to keep its automatic-qualifying bid in the BCS. And make no mistake, no AQ, no stability, no stability and you're screwed.
So what exactly is wrong with turning to a conference brother in every other sport and publicly asking, "Hey, Irish, what about you?"
"If Notre Dame had come in as a football and basketball school, all in, we wouldn't have a problem," Auriemma said. "Miami wouldn't have left. Virginia Tech wouldn't have left. Boston College wouldn't have left [all for the ACC]. We probably wouldn't have any of these issues, would we?
"We have one school that holds the future of our league in the palm of their hand and they're not really that concerned about it. That's my opinion now. You asked me a question. I'm telling you an answer."
He said he didn't blame Notre Dame, which has for decades nurtured its independence into countless millions in television revenue, for looking out for its best interest.
"But join us in football and then look out for your best interest," said Auriemma. "If you know you, as a school, have the ability to put a whole bunch of schools at ease and have the Catholic mentality of we're here to serve and help … I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school all my life. I love Jesus and I'm not even a Republican."
And just think. All the media wanted to know on this day was how Auriemma felt about the preseason Big East coaches' poll. In one the hilariously great examples of, "In other news …", Notre Dame is picked to win the title this season ahead of UConn. It's only the second time since 1992-93 the Huskies haven't been picked to finish first.
"It's a long time coming," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "We've won a national championship and never won a Big East championship outright. In some ways I think it's tougher to win the Big East."
Notre Dame got nine votes. UConn got seven. That's right. Secretariat isn't the chalk this time. The IRS is the underdog.
"I don't think it should be the sole property of one school to be the favorite every year and everybody should be able to be the underdog and sneak up on everybody," Auriemma said. "I think everybody should be able to experience being the favorite.
"When you're good enough, recruited the right players, coached them the right way like Muffet has, you deserve to be looked upon as the best team in the Big East in 2011. I don't know how she feels about it. She's probably a little nervous about it. It changes the mentality of your team a little, changes the expectations a bit. I'll be an interested observer [of her team.]"
A coach cannot vote for his/her team in the poll. Given that, UConn was a unanimous pick in five of the previous 11 polls dating to 2000, [2000, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010]. The Huskies got all but one vote in 2001, 2004 and 2008. That only leaves 2005 when Rutgers was picked over UConn on 11 of 16 ballots, 2006 when the Huskies conversely were picked over Rutgers on 11 of 16 ballots, and 2002 when Notre Dame and UConn were co-favorites.
"I know what national championship teams look like and if I thought we had a team that had all the ingredients to win the national championship and didn't have to worry about anything, I'd look at [the poll] and laugh. But we look at it and agree with it. We might not even be No. 2.
"Six [beyond McGraw] voted for us? I was shocked. Given what's happened in the league, was that a pro-Connecticut or an anti-Notre Dame vote? I'll have to talk to the people who voted. I hope it was for Connecticut."
Hey, Notre Dame could get so angry, that it leaves the Big East and joins the ACC. Then again, that would be UConn's dream scenario. If Notre Dame joins the ACC in all sports except for football, UConn is positioned to be the ACC's 16th member.