When I was a student at UConn, they changed the school logo to the phallic looking leafs one they use now, originally it was a more "1960s academic looking" circle and a more cartoonish looking leaf. But when anyone thinks of UConn's logo, the thought that comes to mind is the Husky Dog head. Whether it's Jonathan XI (I recently read they've lost track of how many Jonathan the Husky Dog there's been) or the uniforms, or the scoreboard logo on sports websites - people think of UConn as the Huskies.
The Hartford Courant reported this week that the University of Connecticut feels so strongly about their identity with the Husky Dog Head logo that they've asked a Connecticut high school to stop using it. I doubt this will hurt UConn's recruiting of athletes within the state any worse than Randy Edsall's personality did, but it still made me shake my head.
The Morgan School (that's it's official name, not "Morgan High School") is the school for the town of Clinton. If you aren't from that part of the state, the school is probably known as the school "right by the Clinton Outlets" or "that school right off exit 63, the exit before Hammonasset Beach." The school was actually there before the outlets were built and is roughly the same age as the Hammonasset Connector which leads from I-95 to Connecticut's largest beach.
Morgan, one of the largest schools in the Shoreline Conference, plays in one of the conference's oldest gymnasiums - in one of the areas oldest high schools. The Huskies, I mean Morgan School teams, have had great success even when the Shoreline Conference included larger schools. Long-time volleyball and girls' basketball coach Joe Grippo has led Morgan teams to over a dozen state titles combined in the two sports. The football team was once a power, with a state title led by Ron Stopkoski (4,000+ career yards rushing) in 1991. Morgan football was also involved with one of the most infamous plays in state history when their undefeated team was facing their (at the time) football arch-rival, Daniel Hand, and a player from the Morgan sideline jumped off the bench to make a game saving tackle (trust me, its legendary on the shoreline). They've also produced two of the greatest UConn baseball players of the Big East era - Jeff Scott (UConn '96) and Jason Grabowski. (UConn '98). Grabowski, who played in the major leagues and hit his first career home run off Kerry Wood, left UConn as the program's all time leader in home runs with 43. I wonder what those two former UConn greats think about this.
Clinton has gone through a major demographic change in the past two decades, becoming a more affluent beach town, but also a town that has struggled mightily to pass spending increases in town referendums. Just this last May, in its second referendum (and after years of attempting to pass) Clinton finally voted to build a new high school at a cost of 31.3 million dollars. The Clinton budget is typically one of the most frugal of its neighboring towns on the Connecticut shoreline. East Haven's new high school looks like a hotel. Madison's new school looks like it could be an Olympic facility. Both of these schools have been around long enough for full high school classes to go through them without having ever attended the older buildings that used to house grades 9-12.
Regardless of the new Morgan School which will not contain the Husky Dog logo, the old gym at the current building has a UConn-looking logo at its center and UConn is asking Clinton to foot the bill of roughly $20,000 to remove it. Twenty-grand, that's like one student's cost for tuition for a couple years. Morgan's gym is small, cramped and the bleachers make an awful noise when the students jump on them during games (something they do a lot during basketball season when Morgan regularly has the largest home crowds in the Shoreline conference despite the old facility). The Shoreline Conference doesn't host any league playoff games in Morgan's gyms. Visiting coaches often talk about the intimidation factor of playing in that gym, with the crowd so close and the noise. Seems ridiculous to me not just to let Morgan use the gym in its current form until the new school is built. Is that too crazy?
If anything, the article in the Courant is really bad press for UConn, which really doesn't need any bad press right now with the debacle of a football season going on and the retirement of Jim Calhoun. But if UConn continues to press the matter and make the Morgan School close their home gym and spend weeks and dollars to remove a logo which does nothing but promote UConn in the southern part of the state, I really have to question the motivation of the Husky athletic department. Maybe I just need to give a couple Morgan School kids some spray paint and let them into the new 24-million dollar basketball facility at UConn.