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College Football

Randy Edsall Punted Into Retirement By FCS Team

Randy Edsall looking upset in a 2017 UConn Huskies game against Virginia.
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Unless you are a fan of UConn football or gathering information for a book on America’s Angriest Men, there’s no real reason why you’d need to know who Randy Edsall is. He is an American football coach [1] who is now and was previously the pinched and rageful face of Huskies football. During Edsall’s first stint with the team, the Huskies ascended successfully to Division I-A and played in a bunch of bowl games that mostly don’t exist anymore—whatever else you can say about the man and his career, Randy Edsall indisputably has led a team to victory in the PapaJohns.com Bowl. After the Huskies were blown out by Oklahoma in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Edsall left for the head job at Maryland. Like, immediately: The AP reported that Edsall “did not speak to his players or fly back with the team after its loss.” He flew to Maryland instead.

“He made it clear there was a new sheriff in town,” John Feinstein wrote in the Washington Post at the end of Edsall’s Maryland tenure. “There would be no dreadlocks on his team, no earrings or caps worn inside the football building. There would be discipline and respect. Edsall said all this on the same day that he informed his players at the University of Connecticut by text that he was no longer their coach.” And in 2017, after four-and-a-half unremarkable years and exactly zero wins against ranked teams while at Maryland, Edsall returned to UConn.

He has not made a PapaJohns.com Bowl since, although to be fair no one has since it rebranded in 2010. The most notable distinction of Edsall’s second stint was Connecticut’s state Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that Edsall did not violate a state anti-nepotism law by hiring his son Corey as the team’s tight ends coach. Two weeks ago, Edsall’s Huskies opened their season by dropping a 45-0 squeaker to Fresno State; they had nine first downs. This dropped Edsall’s record with the team during his second stint to 6-31. On Saturday, the Huskies lost to Holy Cross, 38-28; the Crusaders gained 372 yards on the day, which is three more than the Huskies have in their first two games combined. On Sunday, Edsall announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season.

None of this is especially important, naturally. Edsall is a perfectly representative college football tyrant, a real high-handed glass o’ vinegar who has distinguished himself at every turn by blaming his players and generally being a jerk to everyone he can get away with treating that way, but not an especially significant one. His program has been bumping along the bottom for some time. There is only so much that needs saying about any of it, although presumably the reason Randy Edsall declined to talk about his retirement at his Sunday media availability was more a case of “he’s Randy Edsall, and just like this” than it was an acknowledgment of its broader meaninglessness.

The important thing, if there’s an important thing here, is that one of college football’s reigning hardasses was effectively powerbombed into retirement by a FCS team in his team’s second game of the season. If it is not the supreme high-water mark for Holy Cross football—the program played in the 1946 Orange Bowl [2], as we all know—it is surely in the pantheon of Consequential Holy Cross Wins. Upon what tier of that pantheon this victory belongs upon is a question that Holy Cross alumni can debate on their own podcasts, in their own time.