Plenty of names surfaced in the days since Bob Diaco was fired as UConn’s football coach but the university’s director of athletics David Benedict picked a coach rather familiar to UConn fans.
Randy Edsall, who took UConn from being a solid I-AA program to playing in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, has been hired as the new UConn coach.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to rejoin and lead the UConn program,” Edsall said in a statement. “I want to thank President (Susan) Herbst, Athletic Director David Benedict and the rest of the administration for believing I am the right person to build this program and develop its student-athletes. I look forward to working with David, our student-athletes and the entire athletic department.”
Edsall coached at UConn from 1999-2010, going 74-70. He oversaw the Huskies’ transition from the I-AA level to jumping to the Football Bowl Subdivision level. All seven winning seasons that the Huskies have had at the FBS level have come under Edsall’s watch.
“Coach Edsall is the right fit for our university, football program and student-athletes,” Benedict said in a release. “He led UConn to its most successful period in the history of our football program, and I believe he will provide consistent leadership and long-term success once again.”
When Edsall left UConn to take over the Maryland program shortly after the 2011 Fiesta Bowl without flying back with the team and telling his players of his decision to accept that he termed his dream job, it created a backlash from the UConn fan base.
After struggling with former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni and Diaco, a highly-decorated defensive coordinator, the UConn leadership group is going to bank on Edsall being able to return UConn to a program that can annually make it into bowl games. The only bowl game UConn played in since Edsall left for Maryland was the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl.
Edsall is currently the director of research - special projects with the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Edsall won seven games in his third season at Maryland including a victory over UConn. The Terrapins started the 2014 season with a 4-1 record before going 3-5 down the stretch. An eight-game losing streak the following season brought an end to his time at Maryland.
“Certainly as I look back on it, I wish I had done things differently in that instance,” Edsall said in a statement. “I completely understand and respect that there are loyal fans, supporters and former players that still have not forgotten and it will take time to forgive. I have many incredible memories of my time at UConn and I hope the fans do too. It is my goal to get us back to that level of success and I hope that all of the Husky fans out there will be along for the ride.”
The terms of Edsall’s contract will include $1 million annually in guaranteed compensation, with the opportunity to earn bonuses based on performance and achievement, for a term of five years. The buyouts for the University and Edsall will mirror each other beginning at $3 million and decreasing $1 million each year to zero after the third year.
During his time at UConn the Huskies were known for having a punishing running attack and a solid offensive line. Offensive line struggles have been a constant for the Huskies since Edsall’s departure as the Huskies are the only FBS program to rank 100th or lower in total offense in each of the last six seasons. He also earned a reputation for hiring top-notch assistant coaches with former pupils Joe Moorhead and Todd Orlando among the names being touted as potential candidates for the UConn job. He also had 15 players he recruited taken in the NFL draft from 2005-2011.