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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Case of Coach Edsall

Coach Edsall brought respectability
to a pathetic UConn Program.
He's earned our appreciation
On Sunday Coach Randy Edsall (via the University of Maryland's PR department) announced that he was leaving his post at Connecticut for greener pastures in Maryland. Ever since that report there has been a wholesale frontal attack on him - questioning his motives, character, and some disingenuous posts daring to attack his coaching prowess.  And as usual, many of the posters are barely sports fans let alone UConn Husky fanatics.

I was also disappointed to see that some usually reputable news reporters where actually fanning the flames by tweeting links to blog posts filled with less than responsible attacks about Coach Edsall's decision.  You have to wonder exactly what Coach Edsall did to deserve such a hateful barrage.  How exactly would someone go about making a life-career decision while at the same time pacifying such a nasty group of mere pen and pad holders who spew nothing but criticism and fire 90% of the time?

In the first place, Randy Edsall came to UConn about twelve years ago, when the football program was nothing more than underachieving team that seemed to lose more than it won in a conference barely recognized by others outside of the New England region.  I can distinctly remember going to games on campus as a student; sitting in rag-tag Memorial Stadium  just hoping we played well enough to not be embarrassed by teams like Maine, New Hampshire, and URI.  Oh, those were hardly the glory days!

In truth, we were lucky that Randy Edsall came and stayed on as long as he did.  Success breeds success, and success brings recruits.  For years, UConn couldn't recruit top talent to the program beyond those players who were passed up by powerhouse football schools as second and third string talent, or less.  It took Edsall nearly five years to create a winning season for Connecticut football. In 1999 they went 4-7, in 2000 they went 3-8, in 2001 they went a dismal 2-9.  It wasn't until 2002, that UConn finished a respectable 6-6, and from then out UConn never saw a losing season.  How many other coaches would have hung around to face an ugly media and a disappointed fan base?

And moreover, did anyone really care about Connecticut Football when both UConn Basketball programs were all the hype?  The University of Connecticut gave Coach Calhoun and Coach Auriemma the keys to the Athletic recruitment vault.  I'm surprised they didn't rename the school to The University of Gampel Pavillion. And hey, I'm not knocking them;  to their credit, they produced fabulous results - its just that the game of football was always placed on the back burner, and it seemed to most that trying to turn UConn into a football mecca-center was not acheivable in either the short or long term anyway.  No one ever thought about the words National Championship and UConn Football in the same sentence. 

Randy Edsell brought respectability to the Connecticut Football program.   He brought advancement to 1-A status, winning seasons, helped forge the move to Rentscheller Field, a East title, a win over Notre Dame (at Notre Dame), and even - three bowl victories.  All of this is hardly anything to sneeze at. 

Look, Randy Edsall didn't make a lifelong commitment to stay at the University of Connecticut in the same way that Coaches Calhoun and Auriemma have.  And you know, that's not a big deal.  And besides, did anyone notice that Coach Edsall is moving back home to where he grew up?  Perhaps, the so-called business side of things has an element of personal desire as well.  Sorry that Coach Edsall's personal plans may be interfering with Season Ticket holders plans through 2020.  Jesh, the reaction by some of you is just unbelievable. 

Another unfortunate criticism from the press is how he handled the announcement.  Really?  Should he have brought the team together in the locker room, stood up on a chair, and proceeded to undermine their morale BEFORE Saturday's Bowl Game against Oklahoma?  Maybe he did make the decision ahead of time, but from most reasonable perspective he did a darn good job keeping it under his hat in a world where social media spreads news in a flash!  Or what was he to do, call the team together after the painful loss, and tell them how he's leaving for another team - sort of giving the team a boot in the rear after taking a pounding?  C'mon media - think, just think for a change.  All you want to do is dump on Coach Edsall and throw him under the bus.  One reporter had the audacity to tweet, "[Do you think Edsall wasn't focused on UConn knowing he was heading for OK.]"  Oh please.  Get over yourself! Edsall was and will be forever the consummate professional.

Look at what he had to endure here in this past year alone.  One of his players is murdered in front of the Student Union by thugs, his team in emotional shambles, and yet he pulled together the team, turned around a terrible season, and overcame adversity.  So, he didn't get the movie ending by knocking off the Oklahoma Sooners.  Oh well.  I can live with a winning 8-5 season, and respectability for UConn Athletics.  And a man who put his players above all else when dealing with Jasper Howard's death.

So, here's to Coach Randy Edsall.  Thanks for twelve years of putting up with the fans, the media, and serious player issues - at times making you go well above the role of Coach.  Some of us appreciate what you've done for UConn and wish you nothing but success at Maryland.  I just hope that UConn fans can show the respect and dignity afforded to Coach Edsall should he ever grace our presence again.  Look at the record, and you'll see he's more than earned our respect and appreciation!

Good luck, Coach Edsall!

The original blog article can be found at


Anonymous said...

I liked your blog, however I might suggest you change "Indiana" to "Oklahoma" if you are able to.

The King said...

Thank you.... correction made. Whoops!