Edsall Addresses Past

STORRS – Former Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall on Tuesday apologized for the abrupt manner in which he departed the program in January 2011 when, hours after losing to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, he accepted the head coaching job at Maryland.

Well, sort of.

"If I could do it over again, I wish that there was some way that I was able to see the players and tell them face-to-face that I was going to leave and come to Maryland," Edsall said during a conference call with Connecticut reporters. "But due to the circumstances surrounding that, I wasn't able to do that. That's something that I've just got to live with."

UConn (1-1) travels to College Park, Md., to play Edsall's Maryland (2-0) team Saturday (12:30 p.m., SNY) and it has come as no surprise that the top storyline has been Edsall's 11 years at UConn – or more importantly, his departure.

In the locker room after that Fiesta Bowl loss, Edsall mentioned nothing to his team about his ongoing negotiations with Maryland about coaching the Terps. He also did not take the charter flight back to Connecticut that many of the UConn players were on. Instead he flew on a private plane to Maryland, completed the interview process, and a press conference was arranged to introduce him as the next coach of the Terps.

Many UConn players learned the news through text messages or emails when they turned on their mobile devices upon landing in Connecticut or other locations, if they decided to return to their homes.

"I actually saw it on ESPN," junior kicker Chad Christen said Tuesday.

Tuesday marked Edsall's first press conference with UConn beat writers since that Fiesta Bowl game. He has rejected one-on-one interview requests this week and will not appear on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network pregame show on Saturday. The New London Day did get an exclusive interview by traveling to the Maryland campus in July and the newspaper published its story on Monday.

The conference call, part of UConn's weekly football media event, lasted just short of nine minutes. Edsall used the first 4 ½ minutes for an opening statement that addressed his history with UConn. He said he was deeply indebted to UConn and the State of Connecticut for the opportunity he was given to coach the Huskies and he has nothing but great memories.

Once again, he talked about how special the Maryland job is to him.

"This is where I grew up," said Edsall, a native of nearby Glen Rock, Pa. "I spent a lot of time here at Maryland in terms of a young man going to camp here, going to football games here, being a Baltimore fan and a Maryland fan since I grew up. It was just something that I felt I needed to do."

As expected, both Edsall and UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni have tried to put a lid on the topic during this week of preparation for the game. Pasqualoni was asked questions about the Edsall revenge and motivation factor for the third consecutive day on Tuesday.

"I'll say to them [UConn players] don't get involved in stuff that really isn't going to be a factor in the game," Pasqualoni said. "Randy did a very, very good job here. He left and went to Maryland. I think in this day and age, coaches move around all the time. It's not anything that doesn't happen every year. It's not that unusual."

And for the most part the players seem to have no animosity toward Edsall. They just wish he had told them he was leaving.

"I understand the situation," senior cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson said. "Sometimes you have to make the best decision for yourself. People might say we have some comments against him, but we've moved on. It is what it is."

Wreh-Wilson said the UConn players are trying to put a block on the topic and were told by the coaches not to comment.

"Obviously, if we start thinking about that, we're thinking about the wrong thing," he said. "We need to focus on the game. Last week, we had a game that we could have won and it slipped out of our hands [10-7 loss to North Carolina State]. If we're going to sit here and think about Coach Edsall and this and that, and yada, yada, yada, then we're thinking about the wrong thing. We need to get our season back on track.

"It's kind of something we've all made a commitment to avoiding. When we go down there, it's going to be like we're playing another opponent. We're going to see a man who coached here before, but we have a new coach now."

Asked if it will be weird to see Edsall on the opposite sideline, Wreh-Wilson said, "I haven't done it yet." Will he talk to Edsall after the game? "We'll see how it goes. I don't know," he said.

Senior defensive end Trevardo Williams, who leads the Big East with 3.5 sacks, promised no one will tackle Edsall.

"Tackle him personally? Nah," Williams said. "[After the game] I would say [to Edsall], ‘Hello, how you doing? It was a great game and good luck on upcoming season. Thanks for recruiting, me.' How about that?"

Sounds good. And Pasqualoni doesn't have anything but nice things to say about the former UConn coach.

"Randy and I were together at Syracuse for four years; coaching on the same side of the ball with coach [Dick] MacPherson," Pasqualoni said. "I know Randy. Randy is a very good football coach and defensive coach, secondary coach, very detailed and exact. He knows what he wants to do and I think he's doing a very good job.

"I thought Randy left the culture of the program very good. From an off-the-field standpoint, he understood the expectations academically. I think the academic record here, prior to me getting here, speaks for itself. When I came in here, the transition for the kids, in regards to the expectations in all areas, I don't think was that much different."

After talking about his Maryland players and commenting on how well the UConn defense has played this season, Edsall was asked how he wants to be remembered at UConn.

"I would really just rather talk about the game," Edsall said. "I think that's what's really most important."

That was that. No more questions for Edsall. And, really, not much more to say. On Saturday, it will all be about football.

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