First of all, congratulations to Rutgers for winning tonight's Big East opener, 27-24, in Piscataway. As much as I want to wallow and bitch and moan and hate, Rutgers deserved it. They were the better team, and if they played that game 10 times in Piscataway, Rutgers wins seven or eight.
Now for the rant: The Randy Edsall Mythos is done. Over. Finished. I was through with it after the Temple loss, but I held off this post until Big East season, because I made a conscious decision not to overreact.
It's officially time to overreact.
Randy Edsall does not have special powers. He does not turn unheralded players into stars. We've deluded ourselves into thinking that Edsall was some kind of miracle worker, turning two-star kids into a BCS-level team.
He isn't. The players are playing hard. They're trying. If I were a parent, I would be happy to send my kid to be coached by Edsall, who is an excellent father figure and a good man.
But Edsall is an average football coach, with an average coaching staff, who recruit average players, who put up average results in an average conference. It's really that simple.
Good programs don't go 2-8 against non-conference BCS teams above .500 (since 2004). Good programs don't go 5-20 against above-.500 Big East teams (since 2004), with all five wins coming at home. Good programs don't get the Biggest Win In School History against a four-loss USF team in the midst of an annual fade, or a 6-6 Notre Dame team with a doomed coach. Good programs aren't 17-25 over a six-year span in an average conference. Good programs don't fold up three out of four times they play on the road (8-24 since 2004).
Good teams don't sit back in a soft zone and pray for a mistake in order to be successful. And good programs don't blow fourth quarter leads against a team that scored 14 on Tulane
This UConn team can't stop the run. It can't stop the pass. It can't really play special teams. It can't really pass that effectively against teams with a pulse. It can run the ball OK. This was the team we thought could win the Big East?
Switch its schedule with Minnesota, or Vanderbilt, or Baylor, and this level of talent tops out at seven wins. (Make no mistake, talent is an issue here. Stars DO matter. If you recruit players with average talent, you may get some diamonds in the rough. You're also very likely to get average results.) In the Big East and with a slate of non-conference cupcakes, UConn will fluctuate between five and nine wins, depending on luck.
For the best case scenario, see 2007, when UConn benefited from a fake fair catch, defensive and special teams touchdowns out the wazoo, a bailout against Temple, a +13 turnover margin, and a laughable non-conference schedule. And they went 9-4, which is the gold standard of UConn records in the Big East era, or also known as an average year at West Virginia.
For the worst-case, well...have you watched the first six games this season?
This is the real state of the program. It's time to recalculate and readjust to the reality that has been staring at our faces for a long time now.
Tonight was an incredibly discouraging defeat. And as it is 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning right now, I have no idea how much of this rant I will agree when I wake up. But all of this has been bubbling beneath the surface, and after yet another loss to friggin Rutgers, after yet another poor start and overall poor road performance, after yet another loss to a team that UConn supposedly had passed, questions need to be answered.
This is still my school, and my team. And by bringing us to something - as frustratingly little as that something may be - from nothing, Randy Edsall has earned the chance to get this program to a conference championship level. You will not hear "Fire Edsall" said in a non-joking fashion by me at any point during the 2010 football season.
But he needs to recruit better, he needs to scheme better, he needs to motivate better.
I will root for him even as I become more skeptical that he is the man to lead UConn to the promised land; but right now, the balance of the evidence says UConn is not a championship-caliber team, nor even a top-half Big East program.