UConn is coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons and obviously didn't play in any bowl games after them.
USA Today, in its preseason poll, ranked the Huskies 92nd of 125 Division I-A schools.
Athlon Sports ranked third-year coach Paul Pasqualoni No. 88 among Division I-A coaches.
And on Tuesday, Pasqualoni, quarterback Chandler Whitmer, guard Steve Greene and cornerback Byron Jones walked into the plush Hotel Viking with even more negative news to digest: The first American Athletic Conference preseason media poll was released, and the Huskies are picked No. 7 of 10 teams.
Now, it should be noted that a respected writer covering the league long before the AAC came on the scene, looked at UConn's ranking and deadpanned, "No way."
Sure, seventh might be low, but the Huskies have a lot to prove.
"It doesn't really matter to me where it starts," Pasqualoni said. "It only matters, obviously, as you guys know, where it ends. We use it as a source of motivation. We don't pay much attention to it. It's a non-factor to me."
There are new teams and new writers voting in the AAC poll, but as members of the Big East the Huskies found themselves picked near the bottom of the pile every year, too.
Is this the year something gives? Well, something has to because it's clear UConn, its administration and its fan base will not sit quietly through another 5-7 — or worse — season. The fans aren't sitting quietly right now — and the Huskies are 0-0. UConn doesn't open the season until Towson visits Rentschler Field on Aug. 29.
No one is under any illusions about what could happen with another subpar, bowl-less season. Simply put, it likely would mean changes to the coaching staff — starting at the top.
"I would say this: The way I approach it, it's very hard for me to create more urgency because each season to me is a separate entity," Pasqualoni said. "I think from a perception standpoint of where the program is going, everyone would like to see it happen ... quickly.
"I'm a firm believer that in this game and in life, greatness doesn't happen overnight. I think for 99 percent of the population, OK, it does not happen overnight. We're trying to do this thing the right way. We haven't gone the route of 'Well, let's get a quick fix here or a quick fix there' because I don't believe in quick fixes. ... I think this past recruiting class, as they develop as college football players at UConn, they're really going to be good players — I mean legit, big-time Division I players that you can line up against future opponents. ... Let's go play Tennessee, let's go play BYU, let's go play these teams, put your hands on them and go nose to nose. I think we're going to have guys that can do that."
Pasqualoni knows what he faces.
"I think there is a tremendous urgency to improve this year," Pasqualoni said. "I think we've got to improve things like taking care of the ball [tied for 88th in the country with 26 turnovers in 2012], playing smart and not giving up a play here and there at an inopportune time on defense. You know, we've been great on defense, but we've given up a play here or there. ... We haven't been good enough offensively to overcome those things."
The Huskies lost seven quality defensive starters from 2012. The line, linebacker and cornerback spots all took hits.
"But we've got a lot of young talent coming up behind those guys," junior Byron Jones said. "Look at [freshman] Jhavon Williams. He's nipping at both our heels, mine and Taylor Mack's. It doesn't matter what side. He can play both sides. We've got a lot of young talent."
UConn must replace tight ends Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt, and the offensive line has had problems the past two seasons.
"The team goes the way we go," Greene said of the line. "We don't want to be the focus of the team not doing well anymore. On offense it starts with us. That defense last year played lights out and we didn't."
Whitmer said the offensive line was much better this past spring than in the previous one, and he pointed to more experience. Greene, right tackle Kevin Friend, left tackle Jimmy Bennett and center Tyler Bullock all live together.
"The whole unit has really been working hard, they've been together. They've been getting after it," Whitmer said.
Camp Opens Friday
The Huskies report Thursday and open camp Friday. ... Pasqualoni said there will be no academic casualties going into the season. The team is healthy, too, he said. ... Pasqualoni wouldn't comment on this, but Dean College linebacker Jason Sylva, a UConn commit who reportedly had decided on UMass, is expected to make a visit to Storrs soon. ... Trey Rutherford, a 6-5, 270 pound offensive tackle from The Kent School, gave an oral commitment to UConn Tuesday. ... Freshman Wyatt Vinci (New Jersey) left the program as a transfer. His family recently moved to California and he went as well.y) left the program as a transfer. His family recently moved to California and he went as well.