UConn's Mora, Benedict send signals on ACC

Jul. 11—The future of the Atlantic Coast Conference, like all of big-time college football, is very much in question.

But whatever the ACC ends up being, first-year UConn football coach Jim Mora is interested in being a part of it, while athletic director David Benedict is trying to get more ACC teams on future football schedules.

In an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media last week, Class of 2023 commit Jackson Harper of Simsbury said Mora told him "he has a goal of joining the ACC within the next few years."

During Twitter banter with UConn fans Friday afternoon, Benedict said the Huskies have 14 games with ACC teams in the next five years. When a Twitter user responded the current list of UConn's future opponents only includes 11 games against ACC foes in the next five years, Benedict responded, "Finalizing schedules!"


With UConn having a full slate of 12 games set for 2022 and 2023, that would mean the three added ACC opponents would be for 2024, 2025, and 2026. The independent Huskies have two openings in 2024, one in 2025 and four in 2026.

After Southern Cal and UCLA announced their departure for the Big Ten, Benedict did not respond to emails from the Journal Inquirer seeking comment. He did tell Hearst Connecticut Media "the landscape is changing" and "I don't think you can ever be comfortable."

After USC and UCLA's move, rumors started almost immediately that the Big Ten and SEC would poach the ACC, with Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia getting the most mentions.

But ACC teams are bound by a "grant of rights", a media contract that doesn't expire until 2036. But with Big Ten and SEC teams set to make between $80 million and $100 million a year in new contracts, and the ACC schools poised to make half that, it's a guessing game if any of the ACC powerhouses try to break the contract and break away to what has evolved into the Power 2.

Then there's the matter of UConn's contract with the Big East, which calls for a $30 million exit fee. That's no small deal for school running a $47.2 million deficit in athletics as it pays off a $17 million exit fee from the American Athletic Conference and having just paid former men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie $11 million to settle his arbitration case.