When we started this extinction theme, Syracuse was designated as Tyrannosaurus Rex, the mightiest of dinosaurs. When it came time to commemorate UConn with an extinct animal of its own, it was clear that only a worthy opponent to the T-Rex would do.
The UConn of pre-historic times was definitely the Stegosaur. The stegosaur is one of the most famous and easily recognizable dinosaurs, due to its distinctive arrangement of plates on its back and spikes on its tail.
There are a lot of fitting comparisons between the stegosaur and UConn, so I'm just going to put most of them in table form:
|Arrival||The stegosaur lived in the Late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago.||Was also a late arriver on the scene. UConn was an irrelevant school from the Yankee Conference, and had little success after joining the Big East, until Jim Calhoun became head coach in 1986. Their football team didn't join the top division until the 2000s.
|Intellect||Even by dinosaur standards, stegosaur brains are incredibly tiny.
||UConn is the only major men's basketball team to have been suspended from post-season play for academic reasons. Every other major school seems to have figured out how to game the system; only the smallest or worst-managed athletic programs seem to get in APR trouble.
|Flexibility||The plates and spikes could have been used for defense, attack, or display. The plates also regulated body temperature.
||UConn doesn't have a defining scheme like Syracuse, or defining player traits like Georgetown. They seem to have an assembly line of big, strong, athletic, skilled guys who can do a variety of things. Calhoun was also accused of working the gray areas of the recruiting rules.
|Female of the species||Female stegosaurs also had the distinctive tail and back spikes.||The UConn's women's basketball team will also destroy you.
|Whimsical nomenclature||Even in scientific literature, the spiked tail of the stegosaur is actually called the thagomizer, a word taken from a Far Side cartoon.||When the ABA was formed in the 1960s, the scorecards contained the Bialosuknia Line, a space large enough to accommodate the lengthy name of the former UConn star.|
But what's most fitting here is that the stegosaur and UConn both have a dual nature.
Stegosaurs had two brains. Stegosaurs had a tiny brain in their head, and a larger one at the base of the spinal cord, which is theorized to have managed lower body functions. UConn is the only school on both sides of the traditional Big East basketball school / nouveau Big East football school divide that ultimately split the conference.
Stegosaurs were also the largest of the stegosauria group of dinosaurs - stegosauria being the ones that had the tail spikes. In other words, they were the largest dinosaur that possessed the weapons that smaller ones had. As such, stegosaurs weren't the largest or most fearsome dinosaur, but they were a unique mix of abilities that made them a tough opponent. It took a massive change to the environment to seal their fate.