STORRS, Conn. — The talk of college football right now is conference realignment, as numerous Pac-12 schools, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and the University of Utah announced their departure from the conference to the Big 12 this past week. One school that was also swept up in this discussion was UConn.
The Huskies have already been a part of the conference movement when it moved to the AAC conference in 2013 from the Big East in the hope to boost its football program. They eventually moved back to the Big East in 2020 for the future of their prominent basketball program, and the football program is now a non-conference team.
On Tuesday, UConn Head Coach Jim Mora reacted to the rumors swirling over social media of a potential move to the Big 12 and endorsed the football program's hopeful leap to a Power Five conference in the future.
"I want us to be in a power five conference because I think it helps our athletic department. I think it helps every student-athlete. It certainly helps the football program and I think that we're building something that is earning the right to be in a Power Five." said Mora. "This football team will compete with Power Five football teams. We have the facilities. We have the people. We do more with less than any athletic department in the country. This program was a proud, strong program years ago. We're getting back to that. And I hate to use the word 'deserve' because to me, the word 'deserve' is an entitled word. But I think we are earning the right to be in a Power Five, and we’ll compete against anybody."
Mora is also no stranger to the inner workings of the Pac-12 as he was a former head coach at UCLA and has long-standing ties to the conference. UCLA is now Big 10 bound. He said what's happened to a once prominent conference in the college football landscape is unfortunate.
"My dad coached in the Pac-8. I played in the Pac-10 and coached in the Pac-12. I've always had an affinity for the Pac-12. I'm sad to see what's happened with the Pac-12," said Mora.
But Mora has a team to worry about this year and can't focus on the Huskie's far future when there are many things this season that are still up in the air. Most notably, their starting quarterback position. He'll have to choose from Ta'Quan Roberson, Zion Turner, Tucker McDonald, and Joseph Fagnano.
Although he hasn't named a starter from this bunch, Mora said he knows what he wants in his quarterback.
"First of all, you want to see poise. Under pressure, you want to see consistency in decision making good decision-making. You want to see guys that can make tough throws in critical moments that throw with accuracy. They have a really good understanding of our offense and understand if someone's not lined up, right, how to get them lined up. They have big-picture awareness, and they can move the sticks," said Mora.
One aspect of the team's future that is almost certain, is the strength in their running game. Mora said fans can expect more of the same from the Huskies' running in 2023.
"We always want to be able to run the football. I think that when you can run the football effectively, it opens up so many things for you offensively. And I think the diversity helps us but the depth helps even more. I think with guys like with Devontae or Brew, they put pressure on the defense. They're hard to catch. You put Victor and Jalen in there to pound them a little bit, beat him down a little bit. So having an effective running game opens everything up," said Mora.
UConn's first game is against North Carolina State at Pratt and Whitney Stadium on Thursday, August 31.
Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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