We are 10 days from entering the brave new world of Paul Pasqualoni-brand UConn football, and I’m still trying to put into words how weird this all feels.
Being a UConn fan under Randy Edsall came tinged with just the tiniest bit of rebellion, which is of course ironic given that he was Captain Conservative, Master of the Three-Play Playbook. No other school had a coach like Edsall, for better or for worse.
Edsall fought the system, man, bringing in guys no one ever heard of and turning them into football player-like substances. And yet they remained competitive (in the Big East, at least.) When David Teggart sent UConn to the Fiesta Bowl last December, it was an emphatic – if fleeting – middle finger to the "establishment." It felt like Randy Edsall had pulled a fast one on the entire college world.
Well, until January, anyway. The bowl beatdown and the day-after departure of Edsall put an unceremonious end to Edsall’s weird UConn experiment. (In a way, Randy Edsall was the one-man indie rock band of college football. He was quirky, off-beat, perfectly suited for his little niche, moderately successful with a small, cult-ish audience – and that audience now dislikes him for selling out. The only thing missing was a Pabst Blue Ribbon endorsement deal.)
Edsall almost certainly reached his ceiling here. He had been the exact perfect choice for a fledgling program: a guy who can put respectable teams on the field no matter the amount of athletic talent. To grow a fanbase from almost nothing, it was vitally important that Edsall have success early and often, which he did.
Now, UConn enters Phase 2 of its development as a major-college football program. At 62 years old, Paul Pasqualoni is very much a transitional coach; but he will be tasked with using his coaching credentials and connections to both 1) bring in the players necessary to get to the next level and 2) keep UConn at an adequate level of success until step 1 is complete.
The 2011 season is an important one, not because the Huskies need to compete for a Big East championship. They’ve done that (kinda). It’s more important to see if UConn can stay afloat, whether a more conventional coach can actually win here, or whether it was all Edsall’s voodoo magic.
With that in mind, TheUConnBlog is proud to announce our 2011 Football Preview Weekish, which will run from today through the Huskies’ Sept. 1 opener against Fordham. We’ll check in with the key players up and down the roster, and we’ll look at all 12 opponents over the next 10 days; and we hope that you’ll follow us all throughout what should be a very interesting three months before Jeremy Lamb starts dunking on the entire world.
Let’s go Huskies.