Though many were surprised when University of Connecticut Athletic Director, David Benedict announced the end of Bob Diaco’s tenure as head coach of the UConn football program, the return of Randy Edsall has brought several new, promising staff hires. While firing Diaco cost the University $3.4 million, the slew of recent hires and Edsall’s seemingly sincere apology upon his return are promising. If Edsall and his staff can return the Huskies to the form last seen under his previous tenure, then the bet may prove worthwhile.
On Dec. 26, when Benedict announced Diaco would be let go, rumors regarding Edsall gave members of the UConn Community pause. As noted by Dan Madigan in a Dec. 28 article, Edsall left UConn unceremoniously after a loss in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. After leaving to take the head position at Maryland, he disappointed with a 22-34 record and was fired during the 2015 season. Though UConn fans have reason to be bitter, Edsall’s understanding that “…it will take time to forgive” and clear passion to return to his previous “level of success” will go a long way toward healing any remaining wounds.
Since returning as Head Coach on Dec. 30, Edsall has brought talent from his previous stints at UConn and Maryland, as well as the most surprising hire, Auburn University Offensive Cordinator, Rhett Lashlee.
The transition from Diaco to Edsall has proven the substantial investment gained through hiring David Benedict as AD in February of 2016. Prior to arriving in Storrs, Benedict served as the Athletic Department’s Chief Operating Officer at Auburn. Though Lashlee cited Edsall’s previous success at UConn in an interview with AL.com, his connection to Benedict clearly played a significant role in his decision. His decision to take a nearly 50 percent pay cut, from $600,000 to $350,000, once again proves Benedict and Edsall’s appeal and acumen.
While these hires are not a guarantee for renewed success, Edsall has worked swiftly to quell concerns and bring in new talent. Though the substantial buyout for Diaco has cost the school, announcements such as the guaranteed $1.125 million UConn will gain in playing Boston College next Nov. 18 at Fenway Park have helped to paint a brighter financial picture.
The University and Athletic Director David Benedict have taken an audacious risk in eating a $3.4 million buyout and hiring back a man with a damaged reputation in Storrs. However, if Edsall translates the new coaching talent into a rapidly improving UConn Huskies Football Program, the decision to follow an uncertain path will pay off with the UConn community.