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Column: Welcome home Randy?

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, September 9, 2013

Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 23:09

What’s the right way to break up with somebody?

There isn’t an easy way to do it. Someone is always going to get hurt, but that doesn’t mean there is a right way to go about it.

I may not be an expert on relationships – I’ve had one very short, very miserable one in college – but I do know that the worst way to break up with somebody is a text message.

I didn’t do that since I am a gentleman, but like the entire state of Connecticut, I got dumped via text message while still trying to recover from the spanking UConn took at the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma.

After making junior running back Jordan Todman stand in front of his teammates and tell them that he was leaving for the NFL, Randy Edsall snuck out the back door, gathered his family and jumped on a plane to Maryland, where he was introduced as the head coach of the Terrapins.

Edsall had several opportunities to leave during his time at UConn, with rumors linking him at different times to Kansas and even Notre Dame. But Edsall always chose to remain in Storrs.

The accomplishments of Edsall are self-explanatory. Taking over in 1999, Edsall took a middle-of-the-run FCS program and five years later had it standing on a podium in Detroit as the champion of a FBS bowl game. Three years later, UConn won a share of the conference. A victory at Notre Dame and a bowl win over South Carolina came two years after that, and a BCS appearance followed the next year.

Edsall was one of the most beloved public figures in the state, with only Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma held in higher regard. But in the span of about 12 hours, he went from hero to eternal enemy.

Saturday’s game against Maryland has been circled on the calendars of UConn fans across the state for a couple of years now, with the game being referred to as Edsall Bowl II following UConn’s victory in College Park in 2012.

Edsall Bowl II is the one fans have been waiting for, the one when UConn Country gets to let Edsall know what they think of him now.

But how do UConn fans feel about him now as opposed to even last year?

It seems there has been a change in perception, and it seems to have been caused by two straight 5-7 seasons and a loss to Towson.

The anger from Edsall’s departure did not stem from the fact that he was leaving. Sure, that stung a bit. How could it not? Randy Edsall was UConn football. He built the program. It wasn’t because of Lou and Skip Holtz – both former coaches of the Huskies – that UConn went from I-AA to BCS bowl game in less than 15 years. It was all Edsall. But he was moving into a big job in a big market with a new challenge. Can you fault him for that?

The anger mostly stemmed from the way that he left. There wasn’t any warning. UConn lost the Fiesta Bowl in a slaughter that had the words “Boomer Sooner” ringing in our ears for weeks, and a mere 12 hours later, the game was forgotten because Edsall was suddenly gone.

How long had he known that he was taking that job? Did it affect his coaching against Oklahoma? Why didn’t he tell his team in person when he made Todman face them and say goodbye? Why didn’t he address the fans that he was able to convince to fill a 40,000-seat stadium every Saturday?

All of these questions went unanswered.

That is what makes UConn fans angry.

Telling someone you’re leaving through a text message is the kind of thing that earns you a one-way ticket into a Billboard No. 1 song courtesy of the beautiful yet completely psychotic Taylor Swift. Bad move, Randy.

While he wasn’t the subject of any teenage girls’ musical rampages, Edsall lost the people of Connecticut when he left in the manner that he did.

But I think Saturday will be anything but what has been anticipated for the last couple of years.

I’ve had that feeling for a while now. If fans really still hated Randy Edsall the way they did two years ago, the Maryland game would be a bigger deal. But now, it seems like Maryland is brought up as an afterthought – though to be fair, Michigan is on its way to East Hartford in less than two weeks. But the Wolverines shouldn’t be completely dominating the Rentschler hype. I have been hearing people voice anticipation for Maryland for two years. Now it’s almost like people forget.

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