NEWPORT, R.I. – The Connecticut football team didn't get much respect from a panel of 30 media members who determined the 2013 American Athletic Conference preseason poll – the first for the conference that replaced the Big East.
UConn was picked to finish seventh in the American, receiving 131 points in the poll. With the Huskies reporting to camp Thursday in Storrs and beginning practice Friday, the UConn delegation of coach Paul Pasqualoni, quarterback Chandler Whitmer, guard Steve Greene and cornerback Byron Jones said they will deliver the news and use it as motivation.
"We'll certainly use it as motivation," said Pasqualoni, entering his third season as UConn coach. "But to tell you the truth, I don't put 10 seconds of thought into that coming into this. The first I saw it was when I sat down here and somebody handed me the release. It doesn't really matter to me where it starts, it only matters where it ends. We don't pay much attention to it."
Louisville, with 14 starters back from an 11-2 team that defeated Florida in the Sugar Bowl, was the overwhelming favorite to win the first season of competition in the American. The Cardinals, led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, received 29 of the 30 first place votes and 298 points. Cincinnati was second and picked up the other two first-place votes.
"I think about four years ago, just standing here and we were picked last, even the next year, the second year, we were picked last," said Louisville coach Charlie Strong. "Last year we were picked to win it and this year we're picked to win it. So two years we're being picked last, and these next two we've been picked to go win this conference.
"But it's a tribute to the hard work that our players have made over the years and I'm so excited. You think back just how far this program has come and what we put into this program. Coaching staff has done a great job, our players have done a great job. It's all about us. Can we adapt and can we change and can we continue to move this program forward?"
Here's a look at the entire poll with first place votes and total points:
1. Louisville (28) 298
2. Cincinnati (2) 257
3. Rutgers 240
4. UCF 210
5. USF 155
6. Houston 134
7. UConn 131
8. SMU 118
9. Temple 60
10. Memphis 47