When Randy Edsall was officially hired as the fourth head coach in UConn Football’s FBS history, the school announced that his introductory press conference would be open to the public. Edsall’s hire was met with some skepticism as some thought there would be blowback from fans still upset about the way he left the school in 2010, and others who felt he wouldn’t be a good fit regardless of the way he exited.
There would be no negative reaction from the fans at the event.
With the fight song playing, Edsall was greeted with a chorus of cheers and a standing ovation as he walked onto the stage along with Athletic Director David Benedict, President Susan Herbst, and Chairman Larry McHugh.
Edsall expressed his sincere apologies for the way he left.
“Almost six years ago, I made one of the worst decisions in terms of how I left the University of Connecticut. That is something that I have to live with and have lived with,” he said. “I apologize for how I left. It was wrong. I take full ownership and accountability for that.”
After addressing the past, Edsall turned his focus to the future of UConn Football and described his vision to bring the program back.
“We’re going to move forward together to grow this program because I know this: I’m not good enough to do it by myself and what I need is the help of everybody in this room,” he said.
“Together we can make sure that we get this place 40,000 strong and putting banners up and winning because that’s what UConn is all about. It’s about winning in the classroom, it’s about winning on the field, it’s about winning in life.”
When Edsall left for Maryland, he called it his “dream job.”
“My wife said to me as we were going [to Detroit] this year, ‘Would you want to be a head coach again?’ I said, ‘If I do, it’s only going to be at one place. There’s only one place I would do it again. I said it was Connecticut. I’d go to Connecticut again.’”
Even David Benedict could see how much UConn meant to Edsall throughout the search process.
“There are times where coaches may be at places and it’s just about them and their career and just winning,” he said. “But when you have that deep passion for a place and institution like he has for UConn, I think that helps in your ability to build a program.”
Although he spent 12 years at UConn, Edsall admits he never really took a step back to appreciate everything he accomplished here. In fact, it never hit him until this past September when the Lions faced the Colts in week 1. He was on the field for warmups when three of his former players, Colts Darius Butler, Sio Moore and Jordan Todman came over to him.
“Those guys came up, big hugs and we talked for 20 minutes. Then it’s unbelievable. It brings you back to reality, to say ‘Wow, look at the things we accomplished at the University of Connecticut’,” he said. “It’s those emotions, and those relationships that drive you as a coach.”
Edsall knows the history of the program. He knows the success it can have. Most importantly, he knows how to build it.
“We’re going to work hard each and every day to get better. And if we can get better each and every day and if we can work together, then everything else will take care of itself,” he said.
“This is what Connecticut is all about. This is what Connecticut is meant to be.”