History: In 1881, brothers Augustus and Charles Storrs donated 170 acres and $5000 after they were convinced by the Farmer's Convention of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture that the state needed a school to train boys in farming.
This new school was called The Storrs Agricultural School. They launched with 12 students in a building that previously had been used as a home for orphans of the Civil War. Some years later, when the institution became Connecticut's land grant college, the name was changed to Storrs Agricultural College. In 1899, the name changed again to Connecticut Agricultural College; in 1933, to Connecticut State College; and finally in 1939, to the University of Connecticut. So basically, UConn is the Sparty of New England.
Location: The main university campus is in...wait....wait... you guessed it, Storrs. Which simply is a division of the Connecticut town of Mansfield. It is located approximately 28 miles east of the state capital in Hartford.
Unofficially Connecticut is known as "The Nutmeg State". The exact origins of the nutmeg connection is unknown. It may have come from its sailors returning from voyages with nutmeg (which in the 18th and 19th centuries was a very valuable spice). It may have originated in the early machined sheet tin nutmeg grinders sold by early Connecticut peddlers. It is also facetiously said to come from Yankee peddlers from Connecticut who would sell small carved nobs of wood shaped to look like nutmeg to unsuspecting customers.
The first silk mill in the United States was constructed in Mansfield and financed by pilgrim descendent, William Fisk. The original mill is now in display at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
Peter Tork of the 1960’s made for TV band The Monkees was born in Storrs and still lives there. Also, in 2005, Storrs was named by Slate Magazine as "America's Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster." I am sure Randy Edsall uses this fact as a recruiting tool when he recruits in Florida or Lousiana.
Academics: The University of Connecticut is currently ranked #69 in the latest US News and World Report rankings of National Universities, tied with Virginia Tech and Northeastern. That places them right above Iowa, but not as good as Minnesota in the rankings. There are around 17,000 undergrads enrolled at the Storrs campus. On the positive spin side, for the last 11 years, UConn has been rated as the number one public university in New England. However, they will be hopelessly ranked as the second best school in their own state, behind #3 nationally ranked Yale. Again.... Sparty.
Famous Alumni: The list of famous former UConn students includes movie actress Meg Ryan and Ted Kennedy’s son, Edward Jr.
Former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano, former Cleveland Indian pitcher Charles Nagy and a boatload of NBA players including Celtics star Ray Allen all hail from UConn. Kirk Ferentz, the current Iowa football coach (and one time rumored candidate to replace Lloyd Carr) is a former Husky linebacker.
They don't have any US Presidents as alumni. But they can claim the first female Prime Minister of Turkey, Her Excellency Dr.Tansu Çiller. Also, Sam Webb, the current leader of Communist Party USA has a Master's in (gulp) Economics from UConn.
UConn has two astronauts on their books. Franklin Chang-Diaz flew in seven shuttle missions and is the first naturalized US citizen to go into space. Richard Mastracchio is a veteran of three different spaceflights, including one as recent as April 2010.
Mascot, Helmets, and Fight Song: UConn athletic teams are called the Huskies.
Until 1933, like many land grant/agriculture schools their mascot was the Aggies. When the school changed its name, their athletic teams were renamed The Statesmen. This new name did not last long.
A year later, the Husky was chosen as the mascot. All live mascot husky dogs throughout the years have been named Jonathan in honor of Revolutionary leader Jonathan Trumbull. Trumbull was one of the few Americans who served as governor in both a pre-Revolutionary colony and a post-Revolutionary state. During the American Revolution he was the only colonial governor who supported the American side. Additionally, all but the first "Jonathan" have been white with one brown eye and one blue eye,
The UConn football helmet currently features a stylized block “C” on a blue helmet shell. In the past they have experimented (like Sparty) with side numbers and various “C” and “UConn” combinations. My favorite historical helmet design is the late 60's & early 70's version featuring the Chicago Bears “C” with football laces. There is really nothing like that in college football, and it would be very cool looking.
The UConn fight song, officially titled UConn Husky but commonly called The Husky Fight Song. It was written by by Herbert A. France, who joined the staff of Connecticut Agricultural College in 1931 to start up the music department and lead campus choral groups. He was department head until 1949, and retired in 1960. He died in 1971, and in 1981, at the University's centennial, his family gave UConn the rights to the song.
If you have watched the NCAA basketball tournament over the last 20 years, you have likely heard this song before.
UConn Husky, symbol of might to the foe
Fight, fight Connecticut
It's victory, let's go (let's go!)
Connecticut UConn Husky,
Do it again for the white and blue
So go (fight!) - go (fight!) - go (fight!) - go!
Connecticut, Connecticut U (Spell it!)
C - O - N - N - E - C - T - I - C - U - T, Connecticut
Connecticut Husky, Connecticut Husky
C - O - N - N - U (Fight!)
Football program: They have been playing football at Connecticut since 1896. Their first year, they played one college, five high schools and two YMCA teams. They finished 5-3. Three years later, the team went 0-3 and did not score a single point the whole season. The next hundred years of the program were pretty non-descript save the 1998 team that won 10 games and made the I-AA playoffs. That team was coached by Skip Holtz. The next season he left, they hired Randy Edsall, and made the jump Division I football.
From 1999 to 2003 UConn played as an Independent Division I program. In 2004, the Huskies were admitted as full football members of the Big East. That same year, the school made its first-ever appearance in a bowl game, winning the Motor City Bowl over Toledo... imagine that, beating Toledo. In 2007 they achieved a national ranking for the first time, finished the season 9–3, and climbed as high as 13th in the BCS standings.
Last year UConn had nine former players on NFL rosters, which is not that bad, considering they have only been playing Division One football for 14 years. The most recognizable former UConn player is Mike Hart’s NFL Colts backfield teammate Donald Brown. Brown was taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.
Also of note, former Lions QB Dan Orlovsky is also a UConn Husky. Not that it would have made any difference, but I kinda wish they had taught him what an out of bounds stripe looks like.
Jasper Howard: Last season the UConn football program dealt with the tragic loss of one of it's players in the middle of the season.
Twenty-year-old starting cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed and killed outside a university-sanctioned dance following their October win against Louisville. Jasper Howard was the first member of his family to attend college, and decided to leave his home in South Florida to attend Connecticut in part to escape the violence in the streets.
The day he was killed, Howard recorded a career-high 11 tackles and made perhaps the game's biggest play, forcing a fumble just as Louisville was about to score with UConn up 21-13 in the third quarter. UConn won 38-25.
Jasper will serve as an honorary captain for the 2010 Huskies.
Other sports: They play a lot of other sports at UConn, but nothing compares to their basketball programs. The Men’s team is a perennial NCAA contender and won the tournament in both 1999 and 2004.
However, the success of the Men's program is dwarfed by the acomplishments of their Women’s basketball team. Quite simply, the UConn women have turned the rest of the country's basketball programs into the Washington Generals. In all, they have won seven national titles and have not lost a game since the 2008 Final Four. They currently own a 78 game winning streak, which is the longest winning streak in the history of women's college basketball. I am pretty sure, if given a game, these chicks could beat the Michigan team John Beilein has touring around Europe right now.
The game: Like it or not, this is a HUGE game for the Michigan football program. The entire country will be watching to see what happens as we introduce the newly enhanced Big House. Win this game and the third year of the Rich Rodriguez era has a chance. Lose this game, and the lynch mob gets louder and the hot seat gets warmer. Getting to seven wins starts with this game. This is the first step to return the program to respectability.
This is not a layup. UConn has won its last seven openers. These guys went to South Bend and beat Jimmy Claussen and Notre Dame last year in double overtime. They have been to and won bowl games in each of the last two seasons. I expect Michigan to come out of the tunnel and be very emotional and very aggressive. I am confident our offense will be dynamic and score some points, regardless of who is at QB. I am praying our defense will be able to tackle and apply pressure. The defense that makes the most stops and forces the most turnovers will win.