Randy Edsall is only adding to his legacy of awkward goodbyes as he announced today that he will be retiring at the end of this season after another embarrassing loss yesterday.
The first time Edsall bailed on UConn was without any goodbyes after the Fiesta Bowl in 2011. Ten years later, he is orchestrating what figures to be an ugly and long 10-game farewell tour.
In Edsall’s virtual press conference today, he didn’t answer any questions about the decision to retire. He let his prepared statement stand alone.
There is too much to unpack at this fork in the very rocky road that is UConn Huskies Football, but let’s start here:
When the end of the line comes on November 27 at Rentschler Field against Houston, Edsall, 63, should hold a respected place in UConn Athletics with what he did in his first stint. Edsall is the winningest coach in UConn football program history (80-102), he took over a Division 1-AA (now known as FCS) in 1999 and beat Notre Dame and later soundly beat South Carolina in a Bowl Game and took the Huskies to Arizona to play in a Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.
None of that should be forgotten.
But “Randy Edsall 2.0” was almost doomed from the start. Sports history teaches us that the second-time-around coaching adventures rarely work.
The magic only happens once. You can’t go home again, and Edsall couldn’t stage a second rise in Storrs as times had changed. That UConn win a Notre Dame I mentioned earlier, that happened just 12 years ago, yet it’s talked about as if it happened in another lifetime, the way people talk about Columbia’s 1930s trip to the Rose Bowl.
While Edsall’s heart may have been in the right place, it’s really a fair thing to question whether he had the fire in his belly for a second-go-round. His 6-32 record since his return in 2017 speaks for itself, and cannot be defended.
So UConn football continues onward, with no serious discussions of eliminating the program or dropping it to FCS. The school is committed, money spent, buildings built, contracts signed, to make its way as an Independent. This time the national search, which UConn said would begin immediately, must result in the right coach. Recycling didn’t work.
As Edsall rides slowly into retirement, give him his dues for the good times, but the Huskies must now leave the past behind them and look ahead, even if the future is murkier than ever.