When Randy Edsall left Georgia Tech to take over as head coach of the UConn Huskies, he knew that he had a tough mountain to climb. The basketball driven school was in the process of making the jump from Division I-AA to Division I-A, and that leap is typically too much to handle for an incumbent coach. Most wind up being fired, and those that do survive tend to leave for greener pastures before they even get to see the fruits of their labor take shape. For Edsall though, things have played out differently. He had a vision and a list of goals he wanted to accomplish for the program, and the young men whom he has coached during his 12-year tenure in Storrs bought into it.
Edsall’s teams have now made five bowl appearances in the past seven years, punctuated by their first-ever BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl, this season. In doing so, Edsall’s name has been mentioned as a candidate for several major coaching positions, including recent vacancies at Florida, Miami and Minnesota. After 12 years, the only goals left on that list now, are winning a BCS bowl and winning a national championship. He can accomplish one of those in a few weeks when they take on Oklahoma. Edsall has never acknowledged whether or not he interviewed elsewhere, but he did confess how comfortable and happy he is at UConn, and I believe him. At least for now.
Randy Edsall joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta with Tony Barnhart and Wes Durham to talk about whether he has seen through the vision he had for the UConn program when he first arrived in Stoors, whether he has changed anything about how he and his team approached each game during their 5-game winning streak that clinched a BCS berth, and how selective he is when considering pursuing opportunities elsewhere.Whether he has seen through the vision he created when he first got to UConn:“We sure have. I mean everything that I thought we could accomplish here and wanted to accomplish and sold our kids on, we basically have accomplished. Now we have got to win in a BCS game, other than that the only thing in my mind was a national championship. But you take a look at we have won the conference. We won it twice, we shared it one time and then we shared it this year but got the BCS bid so we have got two out of the last four years where we have shared the conference title. We have gone now, this will be our fifth bowl game, our fourth in a row. We have won three of those four bowl games. We are 65-45 in the nine years that we have been an FCS school. We graduate our kids at a high level. We are sending kids to the NFL.
These last four years have been most productive in terms of the most wins in a four year period in the history of UConn football. Out of the nine years we have been an FCS school, we have had a. 500 or better record seven out of those nine years. So all of the things that I have sold and wanted to have happen within this 12-year span has come about.”Whether he changed anything about the way he approached each game during their 5-game winning streak: “Well we did Tony, there were a couple of changes and one of the things I think that happened, going into the season there was, we have high expectations for ourselves but, there was a lot of expectations outside of the program that were placed upon the kids in terms of what we thought could be accomplished. I don’t think out young men handled that well. I don’t think I probably did as good a job as much as I tried to let them know that we have to still go out there and earn everything that we get, and we had distractions when we first started preseason. We had two kids that were suspended, two starters, because of their inappropriate decisions that they made, and then we had another little incident that took place, and then going into our Louisville game, our quarterback again made some poor decisions, starting quarterback, and removed himself from the team due to those decisions, and then the other starter that we had the issue with in the preseason.
Going into that game it was one of those things where it was really setup to not go our way, and as much as our kids tried to battle and it didn’t work out, we lost 26-0, and I came into the locker room after that game and told the kids that this is what has to happen and to change. You guys have to step up and hold each other more accountable. I said we as coaches can only do so much ”Whether he can be selective about pursuing opportunities elsewhere: “Well you know Wes, this is the thing and, again, I have been here 12 years and my name gets out there and I don’t put it out there or anything along those lines. Like I said, I have been here for 12 years and if you look at my resume, you look at what we have done here, I enjoy it here and when you build something from scratch and take it to where we have taken it there is a lot more ownership to it than just going somewhere else and doing something that is already done. I can’t predict the future because it is no different than your business. If people come after you guys and you might listen to them and then you decide what is best for you. But like I said, I am very comfortable and very happy here and I will just leave it at that.”