AP NEWS

Orlovsky says conversation with reporter not on record, denies calling UConn AD “schmuck”

February 2, 2018

As frustrated as he may be about UConn athletics, Dan Orlovsky denies saying David Benedict is a schmuck, the entire athletic department is headed in the wrong direction and something needs to be done soon.

“No, I didn’t say it on the record,” Orlovsky said Friday from Minnesota. “No, it is not accurate. It’s not true. I don’t want to continue to feed this. People who know me know it’s not like me.

“Everybody knows how much I love UConn. I can see it. You can see it. Everybody can see where the athletic program stands and go, geez, what happened?”

Matt Burke, who wrote the story for Metro Boston, said he recognized Orlovsky on Super Bowl Radio Row at Mall of America, approached him and spoke with the former UConn star and former NFL quarterback. Burke, who attended UConn, said he clearly identified himself as a reporter. He said he did not tape the one-on-one conversation.

“It’s sad. It really is,” Orlovsky was quoted in the Metro story. “I went to the Syracuse game at Madison Square Garden. Even looking at UConn during timeouts, they looked like the inferior team. They looked like a low-level college basketball team and they played like it too.”

Orlovsky was quoted as saying how Jim Calhoun could sell playing in New York two-three times a year while in the Big East and Kevin Ollie is left selling playing in Tulsa with the AAC. Yet the eye-popping words were about Benedict, words Orlovsky denies.

“The AD is kind of a schmuck,” Orlovsky was quoted by Burke. “The whole program is headed in the wrong direction. Rumor has it they’re looking at bringing in [baseball coach] Jim Penders in as AD. That’s the rumor, but we’ll see. They have to do something soon.

Those are words that obviously can rip at the fabric of the athletic department, its relations with former players and Orlovsky said that’s the last thing he wants. The football program is struggling. News of an NCAA inquiry into a struggling basketball program broke in recent days. Orlovsky is a familiar supporter of Randy Edsall, who Benedict brought back as football coach in December 2016.

Orlovsky said he spoke Friday to the UConn AD.

“I said, Mr. Benedict, listen, I don’t think any of the athletic alumni are super stoked with where it is right now,” Orlovsky said. “We’re also really hopeful about the future. And we’re also really hopeful it’s under Benedict.

“I want to see everyone in all areas do well at the school. Everyone knows I’m just not like that, where I personally attack someone. Even when I was outspoken about where the team was at with Bob Diaco, I wasn’t personally attacking him.”

So you didn’t call Benedict a schmuck?

“I don’t even know the last time I used the word,” Orlovsky said. “I don’t know Benedict. I’ve had only one or two conversations with him in my life. I can’t sit there and judge him.”

Burke said he didn’t have to pry anything out of Orlovsky and since he doesn’t use the word schmuck, either, the word clearly stood out to him.

Orlovsky, who has gained a reputation for some sharp football analysis, has spent considerable time on Radio Row this week at the Super Bowl. He said he has been interviewed several times and doesn’t specifically remember Burke.

“Radio Row, it’s my first experience, it’s a melting pot of so many people,” Orlovsky said. “I’ve been asked a ga-jllion questions. Are you going into coaching? Front office? Do you see yourself going back to UConn? I honestly don’t remember being asked, but for years I’ve said Penders would be good because he bleeds UConn blue.

“The big thing for me is I was trying to show empathy of how hard it must be for those guys to recruit right now because of the conference. As alumni, it stinks. I’m really hopeful Benedict can work magic on that end.”