Sports Commentary 9/13/13
The return of Randy Edsall to the Rent tomorrow …
REACTING TO RANDY
The jury is still out. So is the chorus. In this case the chorus will be the jury when the UCONN football team entertains Maryland tomorrow night at Rentschler Field. It will be the first return to “The Rent” as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins for former UCONN head coach Randy Edsall. Last year the question surrounding Edsall as he hosted the Huskies had more to do with his job security, but, having lost his starting quarterback for the season he was given a pass and this year, with C.J. Brown again calling signals and running and passing roughshod over the opposition, the Terps are 2-0, averaging 45 points a game. This year the biggest question surrounding Edsall concerns the reception he’ll recieve from the UCONN faithful. “My sense would be it would probably be mixed”, said UCONN coach Paul Pasqualoni, as the question was put to both coaches earlier this week, “Some people probably really appreciate the years and the work that Randy put in here. There are other people who are probably a little upset with the way things sorted out at the end.” That end came nearly three years ago, after Edsall coached the Huskies in the program’s only BCS bowl appearance, a rout by Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall didn’t accompany the team back to Storrs after the loss. Without saying a word to his players he flew to Maryland to accept his current job. “There are a lot of people (here) who would have probably liked to see it sort out a different”, said Pasqualoni, “But still appreciate what he did.” During his tenure at UCONN Edsall coached the half dozen biggest games in program history, their first game as a full fledged BCS program, their first division 1-A win, their first 1-A road win, a win over Notre Dame in South Bend in the only meeting between the two schools, the win at South Florida that vaulted the Huskies into the Fiesta Bowl and the loss to Oklahoma. Then he unceremoniously fled Storrs, where he felt he and football were underappreciated, doomed to stay in the back seat, behind men’s and women’s basketball. “It’ll be nice to come back and visit Rentschler Field”, Edsall said on Tuesday, “I have a lot of fond memories of Rentschler and a lot of exciting games that were played there. The fans were great and I know what kind of tough environment it can be.” It’s an environment he created behind a program he built, and he knows it won’t be a completely cordial return, but, like Pasqualoni, he expects a mixed bag. “There’ll be boos”, he acknowleged, “And probably some people will cheer. That’s the nature of the profession we’re in. I’m just very grateful that the people that supported the program while I was there made me feel at home and got behind our team and allowed us to do the things we did.” Both coaches agree on something else. No matter how UCONN fans remember Randy Edsall, once the ball is kicked off, he just becomes the coach of the opposing team. “Our fans are going to hopefully be giving them as hard a time as they can give them”, Pasqualoni said of the reception he’d like to see UCONN fans give Edsall and his Terrapins. “Anytime you go on the road”, said Edsall, “Nobody likes you. That’s just part of playing the game.” Whether they love him for what he created for their home team or hate him for his abrupt departure, one thing is true, UCONN football fans will never forget Randy Edsall and his name alone will always bring a reaction. Tomorrow night we’ll find out which one. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.