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The Connecticut Huskies football team is a collegiate football team that competes in NCAA Division I FBS and the American Athletic Conference (The American). Connecticut first fielded a team in 1896, and participated in Division I-AA until 1999. The Huskies began their two-year Division I-A transition period in 2000, and became a full-fledged Division I-A team in 2002. The team's football team joined the other sports leagues in the American Athletic Conference (then known as the Big East until the end of the 2012-13 season) starting in 2004.
The University of Connecticut began playing football in 1896 when the school was known as Storrs Agricultural College, and the team was known as the "Aggies." It teamed up with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of Rhode Island to form the Athletic League of New England State Colleges for the purpose of scheduling football matchups between the schools. The first year was spent playing against local high schools and YMCA clubs. The following year provided their first competition against future rivals Rhode Island, an opponent that would be played over 100 times, and Massachusetts. Other early rivals included the Ivy League and the "Little Ivies", particularly Yale University starting in 1948, whom have played the Huskies for 50 years.
Tragedy struck the team on September 27, 1919 when Gardner Dow died from brain injuries related to a flying tackle that he delivered in a game against New Hampshire. The college would honor Dow by naming the athletic fields after him. These fields would become the home for most of the school's athletic teams for the next three decades.
In 1924, the Aggies celebrated their first undefeated season when they finished with six wins, no losses and two ties. The defense was the strength of the team, as they allowed a meager thirteen points to be scored against them over the entire season, including a total of three points over the final seven games. The team was proclaimed by the New York Times to be among the best in the country, and was led by the school's first All-America candidate in captain, Martin "Red" O'Neill. The UConn Club memorializes O'Neill with a yearly award given to a former student-athlete who has had a successful professional career.
Red O'Neill went on to become one of Connecticut's first players to play in the NFL. He played for the Hartford Blues in 1926, their only year in the NFL. Another player is Art "Pop" Williams, winning a championship with the Providence Steam Roller in 1928 and also has the record for the most rushing career touchdowns in Providence's franchise history. The Steam Roller are New England's first NFL champion.
The renamed Huskies went on to become long-time members of the Yankee Conference, winning 15 conference championships.
In 1983, Bill Belichick applied for the Huskies' head coaching position but was eventually turned down in favor of an internal hire, Tom Jackson.