Geno Auriemma, in case you haven’t met, I’d like to introduce you to Bill Belichick.
You guys certainly know of each other, but it’s about time that you met face to face and chatted a bit.
Bill, there are hundreds of stories about you connecting with celebrities — people like Jon Bon Jovi, Tony La Russa, Charles Barkley, Urban Meyer, lacrosse star Paul Rabil and even President Donald Trump (I knew that one would make some people cringe).
And, Geno, I apologize for not knowing as much about your circle of pals because you are basically in hiding in Storrs, Connecticut.
The reason I called this meeting is simple. If there is one guy who knows exactly what the other has been dealing with for most of the last two decades, it’s you two.
You’re both winners who in the midst of celebrated Hall of Fame careers get more publicity when you lose. It’s unfair. It really is.
Bill, your record with the Patriots over 18 seasons is 214-74 (.743), including five Super Bowl rings.
Geno, your record at the University of Connecticut over 24 seasons is 1,027–135 (.884), including 11 national titles.
After four consecutive national titles, your UConn women’s basketball team has now finished 36-1 for two straight years. The focus of each season, of course, is the one loss.
Bill, you must know the feeling from that 18-1 season a decade ago. Or from the loss two months ago to the Eagles in the Super Bowl, which included Malcolm Butler’s very public benching, both of which, according to the masses, fall to you.
You both know what it feels like to be the one to beat. Nobody other than your family, friends and hometown fans or alumni are rooting for you — especially during the playoffs, Super Bowls or NCAA tournaments.
When either of you lose — the New England Patriots or the UConn women — stories abound that something has gone wrong. That’s especially the case in that one-and-done time of year, when even those “family, friends and fans” aren’t as accepting of losses, either.
Maybe your opponents are getting paid, too. Or maybe they’re the No. 2 team in the country — behind yours. Those facts are insignificant.
Losing a Super Bowl or in the Final Four is a grand consolation prize for the Cardinals, Titans, Mississippi States or Texas Techs of the world. But in New England and at the University of Connecticut, it’s a losing season.
I loved Geno’s comment after his team’s devastating loss last Friday night to Notre Dame, just before the buzzer.
“How could it end any other way? It’s time. It was time. And that just happened to be the time,” he said. “That was the moment. That was the kid. That was the shot.
“We’ve won enough for me to understand there is another side to this,” he said. “So that whole time, as soon as it was over, yeah, I get this. I know exactly what happened and why. Let’s move on.”
Maybe Bill is shaking his head right about now. TMI -- too much information -- for the press, right?
A few decades from now, Geno and Bill, you’ll be beloved and adored. I’m serious. See the anecdotes about Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, both legends.
Of course, there’s another guy under the same microscope, Alabama’s Nick Saban, who fights back the “unreasonable” expectations laid on him by media and fans every week, even during spring football assessments.
In January 2017, Saban got torched because his team lost on a last-second touchdown against Clemson, 35-31, in the national championship. His Tide returned the favor in the Sugar Bowl this past January, then went onto win the championship in even crazier fashion, in overtime, against the University of Georgia.
I would love to remain in the room listening to you guys talk about moving on after losses like those you’ve both endured — let’s be honest, suffered.
How do you move on? How do you tell players they had a great season when everyone around them implies otherwise?
I’d love to stay and hear about it, but I’m guessing you don’t want a sportswriter/underachieving athlete taking up your space.
Before leaving, I will say this: You two, in my opinion, are two of the best coaches ever — in any sport.
Unfortunately, the “legend” label probably won’t come for a decade or two, maybe even after you’ve passed away. For now, this is your exclusive club — with just a couple of rare, talented members.
I know it won’t be easy, but enjoy.
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.