Author’s disclaimer: This column is called Hot Take Tuesday. The opinions and predictions contained in this column will not all be accurate. In keeping with the hot take tradition of sports (particularly football) media, you’re probably better off taking in the spirit of the take rather than the words themselves. Don’t worry, at the end I’ll tell you how seriously to take it.
The UConn football team stinks. They’re very bad. They have trouble scoring and their defense is on pace to be the worst in FBS/Division I-A history. That’s not good.
As you might expect, this has been a tough season on everyone. The players are frustrated, the fans are losing interest, and the coaches have to be feeling some sort of pressure right now. A season as bad as this one normally results in a swift backlash and strong calls for the coach to be fired, and that’s currently occurring with many fans.
This year is different, though, and it should be treated as different. This season was always going to be unsuccessful. No coach that UConn could have possibly hired would have made a this a successful season. Why waste time arguing the degree of lack of success? Why try to figure out what degree of unsuccess is the acceptable version of unsuccess?
There simply isn’t that much difference between three losses and one loss in a season that was always going to be very bad. At least there isn’t so much difference that it should be the difference between a head coach staying and being fired.
And because the recent history of UConn football has seen the dismissal of two straight head coaches who didn’t last long enough to see their first recruiting class graduate, the Huskies have no choice but to stick with the coach they already have. Maybe that’s just because he’s the only one of the three who hasn’t made anything worse, but maybe it’s also because there needs to be some stability for the time being.
Think Paul Pasqualoni’s commitment to uninteresting football was bad for the program? Think Bob Diaco’s Ponzi scheme of strategies resulted in an empty football team? Both of those would pale in comparison to the chaos that would happen if Randy Edsall is fired. Players would leave en masse from an already short-staffed team and fans would struggle to get excited for whichever new coach comes in for the next three seasons.
And sure, things would be different if there was a coach in waiting who we knew could turn around the UConn football team. But if that coach exists, he is not coming to UConn in its current state.
The last two coaches so decimated the program so much that it needed a complete upheaval. Part of that process is weathering the bad years — the ones that don’t seem to provide any benefit to the team. And maybe this year won’t. But committing to a rebuild depends on commitment; without it, you simply restart the process.
What UConn football needs to be successful in the future is a rebuild. Without a rebuild, any good coach they hire in the future would just leave UConn when the first good job offer comes, taking the program’s prestige with him. Keeping Edsall around is an attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen. Keeping Edsall is building for the future, not just right now.
Keeping Edsall is the only right option for UConn football.
Hotness of take: I’ve seen a surprising amount of people argue for Edsall’s dismissal this year, and watching the team, it’s hard to be confused by that opinion. I genuinely feel that using a year everybody knew would be terrible as justification for firing a coach is almost always a bad move, and I don’t have any evidence to explain why this would be an exception to that rule.
There’s a few reasons to be worried about UConn’s future. The defense, most notably, has seemingly not improved at all. But it’s still going to be another year or two until UConn finds real success (and the team is repopulated with Edsall’s recruits), and if the same defensive coaching staff is still at UConn at that point, we can re-open this discussion then.
Until we get to the point where UConn should definitely be winning games, though (again, we’re another year or two away from that), Dave Benedict cannot fire Edsall. That would be a very big mistake, and would just prolong the process of rebuilding the program. Weathering the storm of terrible teams is tough, but there isn’t any other option for the program at this point. Blame Diaco.
This take rates as Not Hot.