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Potential UConn football head coaching candidates

A list of complete guesses as to who could be the next UConn football coach.

NCAA Football: Abilene Christian at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The second Randy Edsall era is over.

For the fourth time in 11 years, UConn is conducting a football coaching search. The school was a member of the Big East and AAC the last three times — this will be the first head coach to take over the program in its FBS independence.

While many people with Twitter-brain think UConn is not going to attract many candidates for this job, it’s still an FBS gig at a flagship public school in a profession where it’s tough to move up. And at this point, expectations are pretty low.

The person coming in will have some time to eventually get back into bowl contention but the short-term goal is to stop being a national punchline. Edsall’s successor really just needs to come with an understanding of the college football landscape in the 21st century and be equipped to make the most out of the talent that UConn can attract.

Without any inside knowledge, here’s a look at the names being thrown around and some others who could make sense for UConn to look at.

Joe Moorhead & Todd Orlando

Putting these two together because they are probably the first names that come to mind for a lot of Huskies fans, and because I think both are unlikely to be hired for the job.

Moorhead was an assistant coach at UConn for two years before taking the Fordham head coach job and catapulting himself into stardom as the Penn State offensive coordinator. He earned an SEC head coaching job at Mississippi State, but it only lasted two years and now he’s the offensive coordinator at Oregon.

Orlando was an assistant at UConn for 11 years, with stops all over the country since then as a defensive coordinator at FIU, Utah State, Houston, Texas, and now USC.

Both of them are likely looking at better opportunities if they were to make a move. They are both great candidates that the fanbase would be happy to see hired for this job, but the likelihood of it happening seems pretty low.

Andrew Breiner

Breiner was hired to be FIU’s offensive coordinator this year and before that spent a year in the NFL as an analyst. Before that, he worked under Joe Moorhead at Mississippi State and Fordham, with a two-year stint as Fordham’s head coach in between.

Breiner was also an assistant coach at UConn, spending three seasons as a graduate assistant and offensive position coach. He grew up in Pennsylvania, a rich recruiting territory where UConn has pulled in many former Husky stars, and played in-state at Lock Haven.

Joe Harasymiak

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic mentioned Harasymiak as a potential candidate, and UConn fans had a chance to see what Joe Harasymiak is capable of in the Huskies’ 2016 season opener at Rentschler Field. He was making his Division 1 debut as the head coach at Maine, who took the hosts to the wire before falling, 24-21. He’s a New Jersey native with a defensive background, and Feldman said he was previously in the mix for the Buffalo head coaching job.

Harasymiak is currently a co-defensive coordinator at Minnesota.

Bob Chesney

After sending Randy Edsall into a retirement announcement, it would only be fair for Bob Chesney to also be a potential candidate to be his replacement. At Holy Cross, a small, private FCS school in the middle of Massachusetts, he’s put together a team that won back-to-back Patriot League titles and is threatening for a third this year. The Crusaders completely out-classed the Huskies this past Saturday, which very simply should never happen to UConn.

Chesney has been a head coach since 2010 when he took over at Division III Salve Regina in Rhode Island. He went 17-5 in his second and third seasons there combined before taking over at Division II Assumption College in Massachusetts. Assumption made the playoffs in his third season, the first of three consecutive playoff appearances. They made the quarterfinals in 2017 before he was hired at Holy Cross, where he once again quickly brought his new team to prominence.

Tony Reno

The head coach at Yale since 2014, Reno has brought on a resurgence of the Eli’s program and UConn fans will get a chance to see that first-hand when the Huskies host Yale on October 16th.

Reno played at Division III Worcester State, where he would later serve as an assistant coach. He spent six seasons at Yale before leaving for their Ivy League rival Harvard, where he coached special teams and defensive backs. In 2012, Yale hired him to replace Tom Williams, who went 16-14 in his two seasons at the helm as Jack Siedlecki’s replacement.

Pete Rossomando

Pete Rossomando has been a head coach at two different Connecticut universities at Division II and FCS levels with pretty good success. At the University of New Haven, he made two playoff appearances and earned a national coach of the year award before taking the job at Central Connecticut in 2014. CCSU won the NEC in 2017 and made the FCS playoffs before Rossomando was hired away to be offensive line coach at Rutgers.

The New York native is now the O-line coach at UNC Charlotte and could be itching for the opportunity to take the top head-coaching job in a state he’s very familiar with. He has an offensive background and many ties to the region with stops as an offensive coordinator at Cortland and Albany before he started at New Haven.

Rob Ambrose

The head coach at Towson, where he was also a player and former assistant coach, was an assistant at UConn for seven seasons before joining his alma mater in 2009. It has been an up-and-down ride for Ambrose, who won two CAA titles in his early years there, beat UConn in 2013, and has also gone 7-5 in Towson’s last two seasons. I don’t think he’s a serious candidate but it’s possible he gets an interview. He’s also been on the two previous versions of this list that I’ve written so why not keep it consistent.

Don Brown

Like Moorhead and Orlando, Don Brown was an assistant at UConn and experienced significant success at FBS powers after leaving. Like Ambrose, he’s been on this list any time we’ve had to do it and probably not the one but with his ties to the school and the region it’s worth a look.

Brown has also been head coach at UMass, a five-year run that included an FCS national championship appearance and two conference titles. He’s currently the defensive coordinator at Arizona and is 66 years old, but perhaps he could be interested in one last go at a head coaching job before hanging it up.

Steve Addazio

Addazio was fired from Boston College and somehow failed up into the Colorado State head coaching job. He’s 1-4 there so far after playing four games last year and opening this season with a big loss to FCS South Dakota State. Addazio could get fired and might be a decent option for the Huskies, though it would certainly not be an ideal hire given his coaching style and some of the accusations that have arisen about his demeanor. But football coaches aren’t hired to be good people, not even college ones, unfortunately. If he comes at the right price, like say after he’s been fired with a nice severance package, it could work out.

Before BC, Addazio was head coach at Temple, and before that, he was an offensive assistant with stops at Florida, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Syracuse. Addazio is a Connecticut native who played at CCSU and was the former head coach at Cheshire High.

Al Golden

Currently a linebackers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, Golden has been in the NFL ranks since leaving Miami in 2015. Before Miami, he had a very successful run as Temple’s head coach and before that he was a defensive assistant at UVA, Boston College, and Penn State.

Golden is a New Jersey native who played and coached at Red Bank Catholic High, a school that routinely produces Division I players. He could be interested in one more shot at a college head coaching gig, especially one like UConn where the pressure would not be massive.

Danny Rocco

The head coach at the University of Delaware since 2017, Rocco came to UD after successful runs as the head man at Richmond, an FCS power, and Liberty, a fledgling FCS program at the time.

Delaware made the playoffs in 2018 and in 2020 the Blue Hens won the CAA and made the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, getting ranked as high as no. 4 in the country.

Paul Johnson

The man who did about as great as you can expect at Georgia Tech did so using the triple option, and it could be a good option for UConn. This is more of a philosophical name for our list, as Johnson is (probably happily) retired. But maybe someone from the triple-option coaching tree might be interested in taking their talents to Storrs.

Army, Navy, Air Force, and Georgia Southern are the only schools left who run this system now, but a window exists now that Georgia Tech is out of the game. All of those schools have seen success from using it.