Column: Re-evaluating Randy Edsall
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 00:09
After Thursday’s befuddling loss to Towson, Paul Pasqualoni used one word so often that it is still echoing through the bowels of Rentschler Field: evaluate.
In fact, while “I don’t know” and “we’ll have to look at the film” gave it a run for its money, the need to “evaluate” made up the majority of his post-game press conference responses.
On the offensive line, which allowed five sacks and couldn’t kick-start the running game?
“We’ve got to evaluate it.”
On Chandler Whitmer, who had trouble seeing the field and completed just over half of his passes and whether there may be some changes in the works at quarterback – or any other position – before Game Two?
“From a personnel evaluation standpoint, we know [what we want]. I think we pretty much know.”
On the defensive line, which anchored a unit that finished last season No. 7 in rushing yards allowed but was shredded to the tune of 201 yards?
“I’ve got to go back and evaluate.”
Well, Coach, maybe it’s about time the fans make an evaluation of their own.
Despite the embarrassment of the season opener, there’s little doubt that Husky faithful from across the state will flock to East Hartford on Sept. 14.
After all, Randy Edsall – perhaps “The Most Hated Man” in Connecticut – is coming to town.
UConn fans have waited what must seem like decades for this moment – the second that their football pariah steps out of Maryland’s tunnel to a deafening, sound barrier-breaking chorus of … boos, right?
This ode to a hero-turned-villain has been planned for two-plus years. But now, in the face of what the program has become, it just doesn’t seem to make much sense.
The hope was always that Edsall, who ditched the team under cloak of darkness and traded rustic Storrs for the shadows of D.C., would lead a weakling Terps team into the Rent against the still-powerful Huskies, a squad basking in the afterglow and gleaning the benefits of a BCS appearance.
But as we’ve found out, 32 months leaves plenty of time for a precipitous fall from relevance.
And now, as Pasqualoni sits on what looks to be coaching death row – his rear-end charred from the ever-hotter seat – Randy Edsall doesn’t look so bad.
Yes, the way he left still hurts. Yes, the cowardice – the hypocracy – of making Jordan Todman stand in front of the team to declare he was leaving for the NFL Draft, then sneaking off on a separate flight without a word is still enough to raise the state’s blood pressure.
“[Edsall] made Jordan address the team to say he was leaving, and he isn’t man enough to do it face to face to us?” an anonymous player told the Hartford Courant at the time.
Yes, UConn players and fans alike had every right to be angry, to be enraged, to be disgusted with the way Edsall handled his final day in charge.
But man, the guy could coach.
Under his tutelage, a fledgling FBS program blossomed into a conference champion.
With him at the reign, a roster of under-talented players consistently over-performed their way to the Fiesta Bowl.
And after what’s gone down in Storrs the past two-plus years, that has to give fans pause.
Indeed, it’s time to re-evaluate Edsall’s spot in the hearts of UConn Country.
When Maryland makes its way out from beneath the Dog Pound and bursts through the visitors’ tunnel, the first thing its head coach hears shouldn’t be the wallowing misery of bitter fans stuck in the past.
Instead, it should be the grace of nostalgic fans stuck in a miserable present.
When Randy Edsall shows his face in Connecticut for the first time since taking his “dream job,” he should hear – at the least – polite applause.
In his relatively short time at the helm, Husky fans have already grown weary of Pasqualoni and the mundane, buzz-free air that’s surrounded the program during his tenure.
Just 25 games into the Pasqualoni era, UConn fans are calling for his head – a 10-15 record tends to have that effect.
And, of course, students, alumni and fans have flooded the Twitter-sphere, message boards and forums to voice their disdain.
But really, what could send a stronger message to the man patrolling UConn’s sidelines that Saturday afternoon – the program’s new pariah – and the administration above him than a cheery re-evaluation of the desperado who came before?