Randy Edsall, “the father of Connecticut football,” has spurned his Huskies and opted for greener and brighter pastures down south.
The man who brought UConn from a quarter-filled 30,000-seat, on-campus stadium competing at the Division I-AA level to a Fiesta Bowl participant left within a blink of an eye,without warning.
Saturday night in Glendale, AZ was a crowning achievement for Edsall and the UConn Huskies. A berth in a BCS bowl game is an accolade that few programs can hang their hat on, let alone a recent upstart full-time Division I-A program.
When Edsall arrived in Storrs, CT back in 1999, the Huskies sustained limited success, albeit in lower-level football. Only three coaches remained with the program for more than 100 games. Edsall was the longest tenured coach for UConn, and for good measure, the program would not be where it is today without the contributions of Edsall and his staff.
Edsall went to work in double-wide trailers behind UConn’s old Memorial Stadium and had little to offer recruits other than a shot at building a program from the ground up. Granted, the Huskies have been playing football since 1896, but UConn was light years behind the top dogs across the country.
The path was long, treacherous and, early on, unrewarding, but the Huskies had a true leader to call their own.
Now, upon Edsall's departure from Connecticut, the Huskies reached new heights. No longer are there trailers to work in, but state of the art facilities for coaches and staff members on campus, as well as a picturesque 40,000-seat stadium in Hartford, CT that is the home of the current Big East champions.
A Fiesta Bowl appearance versus one of the most historic and accomplished programs of all time in the Oklahoma Sooners was evidence of all the hard work and emphasis that Edsall established with his players and inside the Husky football program.
Then in one moment, Edsall left the Huskies for the Maryland Terrapins and the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. The Connecticut football team flew from Phoenix back to New England, but Edsall had his sights set on College Park, MD the entire time. In doing so, the Huskies were left behind without a leader in New England.
Edsall has every right to take another job, as he has been the leader of the Connecticut program since 1999, but the perception he exuded, at least to outsiders, seemed to be a loyal upstanding leader of men and the Huskies.
But the philosophy of most head coaches around the country is similar: Money talks and opportunity knocks. The days of coaches resurrecting a program from the depths of defeat and transforming their squad into consistently competitive teams each year are long gone.
Edsall seemed to be the next in line of the longest-tenured coaches in America.
Unfortunately, there will no longer be the Joe Paternos or Frank Beamers of the world. The days of an aspiring coach taking a job, building a program, establishing his family and becoming a household name in his community have been passed over for the search for the next dream job.
No one can blame these coaches bolting every few years in pursuit of that one shining star, but Edsall appeared to be part of a different breed, an “old school” colonel—through everything that Connecticut and Randy Edsall endured, not only bringing the Husky program into the new millennium, but also dealing with a horrific tragedy on campus last fall with the death of Husky great, Jasper Howard.
Now, it seems that Edsall placed the UConn program, once again, as a steppingstone to the next job in line, much like former head coach and current South Florida Bulls skipper Skip Holtz did prior to Edsall taking over.
But there is no doubt that the University of Connecticut is grateful for Edsall’s tenure in Storrs. Nobody knows where the Huskies would be as a football power without Edsall’s time, dedication and success.
However, Edsall will now have a new project of revitalizing the Maryland program from middle of the road status to BCS bowl contenders. The Connecticut Huskies are now left with a glaring vacancy. With only six seasons of Big East competition under their belts, one conference championship and one Fiesta Bowl appearance, UConn now has much higher standards in terms of football excellence.
There might not be another Randy Edsall out there to fill the void on the Huskies' sideline, but for the first time as a Division I-A program, Connecticut has an extremely large decision to make in appointing the next leader of the UConn football program.