UCF opens its 2018 season against UConn in East Hartford. That gives us an occasion to look back on the funniest attempt in recent times by one team to create a rivalry trophy with another. It resulted in UCF making fun of UConn and not engaging with the trophy at all. Long live the Civil ConFLiCT, a doomed creation of the Huskies’ Bob Diaco era.
Let’s go back to the beginning, at a postgame press conference in 2014.
That year, UConn beat UCF in a shocker — it was UConn’s only win against an FBS team and UCF’s only loss to a conference opponent — and UConn coach Diaco used the postgame press conference to recommend a rivalry trophy:
We’re excited about this North/South battle. You want to call it the Civil Conflict? Maybe I’ll win my money and make a trophy. I’ll buy it myself. Put a big giant Husky and a big giant Knight on it. Make a stand. Put it in our hallway. The Civil Conflict. The loser, maybe they’ve got to put nutmeg on the stand when it’s not there and we’ll put a sack of oranges.
The next summer, UConn had gone ahead and created the thing:
When that happened, UCF had no idea it was coming ...
Just checked w/ @UCF_Football: "We have no involvement with the trophy or creating a rivalry game with UConn." They were surprised by tweet.— Brandon Helwig (@UCFSports) June 1, 2015
... and was not interested in participating.
I think Regina George said it best pic.twitter.com/OTxNCVo9Mg— Knightro (@UCF_Knightro) October 10, 2015
UCF lost the 2015 game, 40-13, which allowed UConn to keep its made-up trophy.
The following year, 2016, the Knights won 24-16. Instead of taking home the Civil ConFLiCT trophy, UCF just left it on the field.
Then-UCF coach Scott Frost showed total disregard for the trophy.
“Some of you asked me on the press conference phone call a minute ago where it is,” Frost told reporters after the game. “I don’t wanna get into that too much, because that was a big deal last year, but, yeah, whereabouts unknown, I would say. It’s definitely not here.”
UConn fired Diaco, the trophy creator, after the 2016 season.
The next year, while Diaco was the defensive coordinator at Nebraska (another job he’d get fired from), he completely swore off the ConFLiCT.
”I’ve eliminated it from my mind,” Diaco said, per the Hartford Courant. “I put the experience in a chest, locked it, dumped it into the ocean and I threw away the key. That’s the important thing. I’ve thrown the key away. I don’t even know ‘it” or what you’re talking about. Because I’ve eliminated that whole painful part from my mind.”
Making Diaco’s story even sadder, he apparently bought the trophy himself.
”My understanding is the trophy was designed and paid for by Bob,” UConn AD David Benedict said, via the Courant. “I haven’t seen it since he left.”
For their part, the Knights were still denying involvement in 2017.
But in the Knights’ notes for 2018’s game, there’s no mention of the trophy. There is only this apparent fun-poking in a tweet from the team’s account:
Rivalries are great, but this trophy never had a clear purpose. And it never became anything more than something to make fun of.
-UConn and UCF are not close. They're 1,214 miles apart, per Google Maps.
-UConn and UCF have no history. They have played twice, each in the last two years. [This is now five times in five years. The teams still have no history.]
-Only one team actually wants the rivalry trophy, which is a damn good sign it is not a rivalry.
-This trophy was made by the same people who make Employee of the Month signs.
-"Civil Conflict" doesn't mean anything. It could mean "courteous fighting," which is a bad name for anything, or it could be an alternate of Civil War. I'm guessing they didn't say Civil War because Oregon and Oregon State already do that. I guess they're going for a "one team is from the North and one team is from the South" thing, so I guess the best way I could describe this trophy's name is "an offhand appropriation of a major American conflict for a bad rivalry game between two teams from states that kinda contributed to that conflict."
-This just seems like an obvious play for a school without a natural geographic rival to get someone — something, someone, anyone, ANYONE ANYBODY PLEASE — to notice them. I guess UConn figured its best bet was to pick a team it had beaten, in hopes of making it competitive. The thing is, UCF already has a natural rival in USF. Pick someone who will actually care!
Rest in peace, Civil ConFLiCT.