Start the statue collection at Connecticut.
Little was expected this year at UConn because the expectations seem to be low every year, but what first-year coach Jim Mora has done has been one of the top jobs not only this year but in recent college football history.
In August, this reporter, writing for HERO Sports, praised the Huskies for looking strong in defeat during their opener, but how they had such a long road to travel.
The deeply analytical prose consisted of this line – If Mora goes 3-9, they should immediately seek donations for a future statute of him.
All Mora has done in his first year at UConn is make one of the worst FBS programs become bowl eligible. And the Huskies did it the hard way, by beating then-No. 19 ranked Liberty 36-33 in Hartford.
That leaves UConn with a 6-5 record.
If 3-9 deserved a statue, what does doubling that suggested win total warrant?
A new Jim Mora building?
Actually, UConn will trade a statue for having Mora stay and continue this magic.
Everybody knows the drill. When a coach leads a lower-level FBS program to a surprising season, it often leads to offers from bigger FBS programs. And it’s not as if this is Mora’s first rodeo.
Here’s a guy who coached the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC championship game following the 2004 NFL season.
He also was 46-30 in six seasons at UCLA, with four bowl appearances in his last four years. While that isn’t Hall of Fame material, it showed that he has coached at some pretty big places and had a level of success.
He took over a UConn football team without a conference, not the most desired place for head coaches in the non-Notre Dame division.
In the three seasons before Mora took over (there was no season in 2020 due to COVID), UConn went 4-32.
The Huskies were a cellar dweller in the American Athletic Conference and then after departing to join the Big East in basketball, they were left in the murky waters as a football independent.
So the chance of immediate success seemed bleak, especially when UConn began this year 1-4, including losses to Syracuse, Michigan, and N.C. State by a combined 124 points.
Then came a 19-14 home win over Fresno State that opened some eyes, especially since last year the Huskies lost to the Bulldogs 45-0.
A few weeks later, there was a 13-3 win over Boston College.
Granted Boston College isn’t enjoying a vintage season, but it is still a Power Five program with a more than functional quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who received some preseason Heisman hype but has played himself way out of that conversation.
It was UConn’s first win over B.C. in 15 tries and was led by linebacker Jackson Mitchell, who recorded 12 tackles, a sack, an interception, and for good measure, he forced a fumble and recovered one as well.
The win over Liberty was the third in a row for UConn.
Keep in mind that Liberty was coming off a 21-19 win at Arkansas.
While Arkansas (5-5) is not a terror this year in the SEC, the Razorbacks began their season with a win over Cincinnati and only lost 13-10 to an LSU team that recently beat Alabama.
You get the point.
The schedule has been competitive, especially for a team that was coming off a 1-11 season with FCS losses to Yale and Holy Cross. (Yale and Holy Cross are quality FCS programs, but FBS teams are still supposed to win those games, at least on paper if not on the actual football field).
In addition, UConn lost quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson, a Penn State transfer, to injury during the opening game, a respectable 31-20 loss at Utah State. The Huskies have gone with true freshman Zion Turner, who hasn’t set the world on fire but has done a commendable job.
Turner has completed 60.8% of his passes for 1,125 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has averaged just 2.6 yards per carry and has yet to score a touchdown.
UConn ends its regular season Saturday at Army (3-6). A victory would obviously clinch a winning season.
UConn’s last winning season was 2010 when it went 8-5 while playing in the old Big East and competed in the Fiesta Bowl.
The last bowl appearance was in 2015 when UConn finished 6-7 after losing to Marshall 16-10 in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
This year’s performance was totally unexpected, statue-worthy for sure.