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David Benedict on Randy Edsall, Football Recruiting, and the Fan Experience

UConn’s Athletic Director shared some thoughts on a variety of topics as UConn Football gets ready for the 2017 season under the new coaching staff.

Ian Bethune

On Friday, athletic director David Benedict joined Joe D’Ambrosio on WTIC1080 to discuss a wide range of topics, including his recent observations of Randy Edsall’s operation and the Husky fan experience.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit came when Benedict mentioned that the continued employment of Bob Diaco would have hampered ticket sales.

“As it relates to our fans we’re tracking about where we were last year,” Benedict said. “Which in some ways is a win in itself because had we not made the change I think there would have been a significant drop off in season ticket purchases.”

Earlier in the conversation, Benedict shared what he likes about having Randy Edsall in charge.

“I believed that what we needed was stability,” he said. “He was able to basically take all that experience he had at UConn and immediately hit the ground running.”

Another element he appreciates about his hire at the helm of the school’s most important athletic program was his recruiting approach and how it's reflected in the team strategy.

“We have to run offenses and defenses that fit the type of student athlete we recruit. We can recruit a lot of highly skilled hybrid type athletes that can play DB and LB... For us to really put a majority of kids on the field in those positions that we have a better chance to recruit is a very smart thing to do.

“[Recruiting is] based on the ability to do a great job of evaluating and projecting what a high school student athlete and I think that’s something Randy is really gifted at,” he added.

Benedict also expressed his satisfaction with Edsall’s staff, offering some specifics on what he has seen and expects to see from both sides of the ball.

“I’ve had experience with Coach Lashlee and the offense he’s gonna implement… he’s tweaked [the offense from Auburn] up a bit,” he shared, later adding, “Yesterday was the first scrimmage that was held in camp and they ran about 130 plays in about 1 hour 15 minutes.”

Defensively, Benedict sees Billy Crocker’s 3-3-5 as an ideal approach given the competition in the American.

“I’ve had some experience with [the 3-3-5] a long time ago at Arizona State, it didn't necessarily work as well. People weren’t running as much spread… you’ve got bigger stronger offensive lines that run the ball more up the middle and you’ve gotta stop that. I don’t think we’re in that kind of league.”

Benedict also addressed some new developments for the Husky football fan experience. In addition to sharing the stadium enhancements at Pratt & Whitney Stadium, notably bolted on seat-backs, the Tailgate Guys turnkey tailgate offering, and moving the Husky Walk, he also addressed the somewhat controversial move of a home game to Fenway Park.

It was not a snap decision, and offered an opportunity for UConn to make more money than a regular home game. In case you haven’t been paying attention, having money is extremely important in college sports. He consulted with his leadership team, but also sought input from people closer to and within the fanbase. Ultimately, he pulled the trigger.

Playing in a historic venue in a major city as a home game signaled the status of the school and program and also had benefits on the recruiting trail. Benedict shared that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee texted him from a recruiting trip to Florida when the news broke to say it was receiving a very positive reaction from high school prospects.

We’d love to link to the full interview, but the WTIC site hasn’t been updated yet. Check here later and maybe it will be...