UConn coach Geno Auriemma heard Muffet McGraw’s comments about ESPN being biased toward the Huskies, and he responded in true Geno Auriemma fashion.
During an appearance on the “Off the Looking Glass” podcast in late December, McGraw, who coached at Notre Dame from 1987-2020 and now serves as an analyst at the ACC Network, referred to ESPN as “Connecticut’s network” and declared that there is an “incredible bias” when it comes to evaluating the program and its players.
“UConn has done great things, and they’ve won way more than anybody else, except Tennessee. What they’ve done has been amazing,” McGraw told hosts Kate Fagan and Jessica Smetana. “I think people measure their team by them. When joined we the Big East, we were like, ‘We want to get to where they are. That’s what we want to be. We’re trying to emulate them.’
“But I think it goes over the top with ESPN. I think that is Connecticut’s network. Notre Dame has NBC. Connecticut has ESPN. That is absolutely complete bias there.”
McGraw also believes that Auriemma has too much influence over the U.S. national team. She pointed to Candace Parker’s complaints about how her poor relationship with Auriemma led to her absence from the 2016 Team USA roster.
“I think if you read anything that Candace Parker said — ‘I didn’t make the USA team because Geno didn’t like me. I don’t know why, but he didn’t like me. And I wasn’t on the team.’ And I think that’s absolutely true,” McGraw said. “I think he totally controls who makes the team and who doesn’t.”
Auriemma responded to McGraw’s comments on Monday’s edition of the “UConn WBB Coaches Show,” saying that McGraw must have been “bored” and “lonely” when she decided to discuss UConn.
“I guess she doesn’t have a whole lot to talk about,” Auriemma told host Bob Joyce. “And usually when she was coaching, when she did talk, nobody listened anyway. So, I guess she figures she’s got a platform now.”
The 67-year-old also took a shot at his longtime rival’s coaching record with Notre Dame, noting that his Huskies teams had won nine more national championships than McGraw’s Fighting Irish squads.
“I think the bias has something to do — if there is any — with the 11 national championships, which is a lot more than two, last I checked,” Auriemma said. “At least I remember that on ‘Sesame Street.’ Eleven is a lot more than two. … When you tend to win a lot, people want to watch you play a lot.”
Before the end of the interview, Auriemma sarcastically expressed gratitude toward ESPN for helping UConn reach an incredible level of success.
“I do want to thank the people at ESPN for helping us win those 111 [games] in a row. If it wasn’t for them, there’s no way that we could have done it,” Auriemma said. “Hopefully, there’s some people over there that can take some credit for that. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”
You can listen to Joyce’s interview with Auriemma below.