Randy Edsall elopes to Maryland

Must be a better way.

Randy Edsall never told his players goodbye, leaving the University of Connecticut football program to accept the head coaching position at Maryland. 

Edsall, whose UConn team was 8-5, replaces Ralph Friedgen who took his team to seven bowls and six seasons of nine or more victories in 10 seasons, including a 9-4 record and a 51-10 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl this year.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Edsall did not accompany the team on its charter flight back to Connecticut, and players said he told them nothing of his coaching plans after the Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma. Players said when they landed they began receiving text messages about reports Edsall had been hired at Maryland. “We had a meeting in the locker room after the game with a bunch of farewells,” defensive tackle Twyon Martin said. “If Edsall already had this decision made, we’re kind of shocked he wouldn’t have said anything then.”

A lot of things don’t make sense about the coaching change, for either party. Maryland hiring someone with limited success and firing a coach with a solid record of achievement. Edsall leaving the program after taking UConn to a BCS bowl where his team was embarrassed.

Sounds like a marriage doomed to fail.

The Wedge Thwarted Again
In College Football Rule Changes

Guess who co-chaired the NCAA’s Football Rules Committee during the off season?

None other than Randy Edsall, the head coach at UConn. His team, remember, was the one that ran the play that made poor officiating decision history with Larry Taylor’s fake fair catch and a backbreaking touchdown against Louisville three years ago.

One has to wonder whether Edsall pondered using his chairmanship to make sleights of hand more acceptable during the deliberations. He sure seemed to like the way it turned out for UConn in 2007.

Seriously, it’s time to brush up on the rule changes for 2010, the major, minor and questionable:

  • Wedge Formations — On kickoffs, the receiving team may not form a wedge (shoulder-to-shoulder) of three or more players to block for the ball carrier. Penalty is 15 yards. The original flying wedge used by Harvard was outlawed in the 1890’s.
  • An exception is made if the kick is made from an obvious onside formation. Like players have the time and space to form wedges in these situations.
  • Injuries — When the game is stopped for any injury, the affected player must leave the game for at least one down. There goes a time-worn desperation game-delay strategy for some.
  • Pre-Game Warm-Ups — Teams encouraged to observe a 10-yard buffer zone between the 45-yard lines beginning 60 minutes before the opening kickoff. Even if one team is stomping on the other team’s logo?
  • Eye-Shade — If eye shade is worn it must be solid black with no words, numbers, logos or other symbols. A curious rule. One guesses Tim Tebow’s Bible verses must have offended someone, somehow.
  • SocksMust be the same color and design. No mention made of length.

Just make the calls consistently. That’s all we ask, right Randy?

Petrino Snub Gets Job Done At UConn

By Paul Sykes

He dreamed of playing football at Papa John’s Cardinal stadium, kicking for the red and black. Kickoffs, punts, extra points.  Didn’t matter to Desi Cullen. Louisville was his favorite school and any way he could help was the right ticket for him.

Except Bobby Petrino had no interest. Submitted game tapes went unviewed. Calls from Butler coaches didn’t get returned.  Cullen would wind up in the Big East, but it was at UConn instead of Louisville.

Cullen has been the punter and kickoff specialist for Randy Edsall’s squad the last three years. He did eventually get to punt at Papa John’s last season, rocking the Cards for five punts for an average of 44 yards in a 26-21 UConn win.

Currently, he’s the second leading punter in the Big East, with a 43.4 punting average. 70% of his kickoffs have gone unreturned this year.

He recently told the Hartford Courant:

“I have some great discussions with my grandmother back in Louisville, because she’s so pro-U of L and I’m up here. The great thing is that she’s coming up to watch the game Saturday and it’s homecoming and it’s my senior year so that is really special to me.”

Cullen admits he was “too jacked up” when he first punted against Louisville in 2007 and “wanted everything to go 60 yards … but after I shanked the first one and it went about 20 yards…the coaches told me to calm down and focus.”

Butler coaching assistant and mentor Keith Beisler describes Cullen as “one of those kids that comes along once in a lifetime. Good student, great personality, a team leader and motivator. Why Petrino didn’t grab him up is still a mystery to me…but Desi’s happy at UConn and that’s all you can wish for him.”


UConn’s Edsall May Be Feeling The Heat

By Paul Sykes

One doesn’t normally consider a coach with a 3-2 record a reason for fan fire if one is calling the plays at a traditional football power like Alabama, Texas or Ohio State. However, the situation at the University of Connecticut has turned into mini tempest  for coach Randy Edsall.

UConn surrendered a big lead in the fourth quarter to Pittsburgh last weekend, losing 24-21 after jumping out to a 21-6 lead. This on top of a similar loss to North Carolina.

Many fans blame Edsall’s erratic play calling, challenging his conservative, defense-oriented tendencies, wondering out loud if he’s the right coach,

Face it. UConn isn’t exactly a football hotbed. Two big time basketball programs exist on campus, the state’s high school football isn’t exactly a feeder system, and the stadium is the second smallest in the Big East.
Television coverage is hard to come by and there’s not much for Edsall to work with.

UConn fans could have it a lot worse. After all, UConn went 8-5 last year. They went bowling. They have beer sales. Edsall is 60-61 after 10 years at the program.

The crying is premature. After Louisville this weekend, the Huskies face a nasty gauntlet, with road trips to West Virginia, Cincinnati and Notre Dame and a visit from Rutgers. Not for the faint hearted.  The whimpering could turn into a full-fledged tantrum by Thanksgiving.

A loss to Louisville at East Hartford on Saturday could be the precursor to a death watch of Kragthorpian proportions.