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Things sure have changed in 3 years

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 20. 2012 4:00AM

Imagine what would have happened had the following line been written three years ago this Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2009:

"Congrats for the moment, UConn fans, but three years from today, you'll be last in the Big East and pining for a call from the ACC. And Notre Dame will be undefeated, a win away from playing for a national championship and in the ACC."

You would have dismissed the author as daffy.

You also would have to apologize.

Because it's all come true.

In three years.

Now a segment of society and their video game attention spans may regard three years as a long time. Au contraire. Which is what makes today an occasion to marvel, once again, at how narratives change in veritable 24-hour news cycles now, too.

It was three years ago Wednesday. Hard to forget the shapes and forms of UConn 33, Notre Dame 30: Long after it ended, some of the 4,000 UConn fans who made the trip - hard to get that many to stay to the end of games now at Rentschler - were still heard chanting and singing and laughing and celebrating, when their mouths weren't agape.

Some of the players wanted to take some grass from Notre Dame Stadium for posterity.

Randy Edsall wiped away tears.

A stunned press box had been muted to murmurs, save this little kid's voice seemingly from the wilderness, who said, "bye, bye Charlie!" echoing the sentiment that Charlie Weis' time at ND had expired.

UConn play-by-play voice Joe D'Ambrosio opened his broadcast that day by marveling at how 10 years prior, Nov. 20, 1999, UConn football was playing UMass. He ended it by calling Andre Dixon's touchdown into the end zone closest to Field Goal Jesus.

Best line of the day:

"Forty-seven years here," said Andy Baylock, the football program's director of community affairs and UConn's former baseball coach of many years, "and that's got to be the best thing that's ever happened."

And now today UConn has a football program whose wheels spin furiously, but without traction. The basketball program is not invited to the postseason. And yet the school perhaps stands at the precipice of impending history. Maybe this is the time the Huskies get the call from the ACC.

That's the same ACC some of our state poohbahs tried to sue. The same ACC that has been mocked - and still is - by UConn fans. And yet the same ACC that offers a renewal of rivalries with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Boston College, not to mention visits from Duke, Carolina and Florida State.

Every newspaper and web site with ties to college sports has quoted some source from somewhere about what might happen. Believe what you want. Here is what I know:

Sources in the ACC say UConn's chances of being invited are significantly greater now that Jim Calhoun is no longer the men's basketball coach. Scoff all you want. But the ACC fancies itself a compilation of institutions that value academic achievement. And the academic performance, or lack thereof, by Calhoun's teams late in his tenure, left ACC officials sour.

ACC officials are, the sources say, viewing UConn through a bigger prism today. UConn is perceived a better academic school than Louisville, also reported as a contender to replace Maryland. Hence, UConn is likely the favorite to get the call.

Remember this, too: The ACC's prerogative is different from the Big Ten's. The ACC, without its own cable platform, chooses to exercise an "academic" approach. The Big Ten, with the Big Ten Network, just picked Maryland and Rutgers, essentially, because of the respective television markets in New York and Baltimore/Washington.

It's not even relevant that they are pro sports markets. As one blogger wrote Monday, "the Big Ten doesn't even care if people watch Maryland or Rutgers. They just want people who live in those states to pay $1.50 a month for the privilege of watching Maryland and Rutgers as part of Big Ten football (on the Big Ten Network)."

And so we end where we began. There was no logic three years ago in thinking Notre Dame would be playing for a national title in three years. No logic in thinking UConn would pine for a spot in the league that pillaged the Big East. No logic in thinking Maryland and Rutgers belong playing in East Lansing.

But this is our evolution.

And in three years gulp who knows?

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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