For the past two years, UConn fans have been lucky not to have to worry much about the conference realignment. The Huskies happily joined the new Big East, going independent in football, and UConn finally found a place that made sense for its athletic department.
But the world is changing around us, and that could precipitate another change for UConn. In the past six months or so, conferences have resumed poaching prized schools in pursuit of college sports’ most important goal: to make tons of money.
Texas and Oklahoma are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, which will take effect in 2025. More recently, USC and UCLA announced that they would be leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in 2024. that it’s only four of these Power Five schools (for now) that are officially set to relocate in the next few years, the ripple effect has already been huge. The Big 12 replaced Texas and Oklahoma with UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU, all of which will join in 2023.
The ACC may also lose members. Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia are rumored to be jumping ship and joining the SEC. That leaves (at least) four spots open in the ACC, and possibly more as other rumors continue to swirl, such as a merger between the Big 12 and the remaining Pac-12.
SOURCE: North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia are all negotiating to join the SEC. ESPN is trying to cancel its TV deal with the ACC.
— Braden Keith (@Braden_Keith) July 7, 2022
UConn, although contained in Big East, can be proactive in this situation. The school has been a candidate for an ACC spot in the past, and even a watered-down ACC would feature bowl ties and scheduling arrangements that would greatly benefit UConn’s football program while earning enough money. money to also be a boost for the rest of the athletic department.
It also appears that football coach Jim Mora is telling potential recruits that the program hopes to join the ACC soon.
“He explained that his goal was to join the ACC in the next few years,” Jackson Harper, committed to UConn, told Anthony.
Those rumors are still just that, at this point, but it looks like a very big college sports realignment is underway. UConn may or may not be looking to move soon, but at this point events unfolding affect the Husky athletic department.
Mora’s comments to rookies are really the first hint of what the school sees as the long-term solution for athletics. They are also not far from the thoughts of sporting director David Benedict.
“I don’t think you can ever be comfortable,” UConn athletic director David Benedict told Hearst Media a few days ago. “The nature of the landscape in college athletics right now, I don’t think anyone is comfortable with, whether it’s the realignment of the conference or the transformation that needs to take place in the NCAA.”
“The landscape changes in different ways. You have to be aware of this and try to manage it in the best possible way, for what is best for your institution,” added Benedict.
While there are major issues with UConn directly joining the ACC — to do so before July 1, 2026 would cost the school $30 million — it’s possible the Huskies could wind up organically in the ACC thanks to a merger of the two conferences in reaction to a possible Big 12/Pac-12 merger.
The combination of remaining ACC schools, which for now includes Duke, Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville, could rival the Big 12 as the premier basketball conference in sports and simultaneously provide UConn football with a powerful conference home. , without having to pay high redemption fees. It’s pure conjecture and it sounds crazy at first, but USC and UCLA are joining the Big 10 and traveling coast to coast to take on Rutgers in conference.
So hang in there, things might get weird. We haven’t even discussed the possibility of the SEC and the Big Ten splitting from the NCAA…