By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) _ Randy Edsall, who diligently worked to build the Connecticut football program into a winner, has been hired to pull off a similar feat at Maryland.
Edsall was picked Sunday to replace Ralph Friedgen, who was fired after a 10-year run at his alma mater.
Edsall spent 12 years at Connecticut. He guided the Huskies out of Division I-AA (now FCS) and into the Big East, where he won a pair of conference titles and earned postseason appearances in each of the last four years.
Connecticut lost to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night.
The 52-year-old Edsall emerged as a surprise candidate for the job over the weekend. He beat out former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who was considered the favorite when the search began on Dec. 20.
Edsall, the 2010 Big East coach of the year, led the Huskies to eight or more wins in each of the last four seasons. He finished with a 74-70 record at UConn.
Edsall did not accompany the team on its charter flight back to Connecticut, and players said he told them nothing of his coaching plans after the Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma.
Players said when they landed they began receiving text messages about reports Edsall had been hired at Maryland.
“We had a meeting in the locker room after the game with a bunch of farewells,” defensive tackle Twyon Martin said.
“If Edsall already had this decision made, we’re kind of shocked he wouldn’t have said anything then.”
Maryland announced the hiring in a short press release Sunday night. The College Park school will hold a press conference Monday afternoon to introduce Edsall as its new football coach.
First-year Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson fired Friedgen before Christmas. Friedgen finished up a 10-year stint at Maryland with a victory against East Carolina in the Military Bowl.
Even before Friedgen was let go, Leach was being talked about as the leading candidate to replace him.
Leach, who won 84 games in 10 seasons with Texas Tech, was fired after the 2009 season. He had been accused of mistreating a player.
He is suing Texas Tech for wrongful termination.
Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Conn., contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)