After this building job, UConn's Edsall likely to get some reconstruction offers
Published 11:28 pm, Monday, December 6, 2010
STORRS -- Every day when he walks into his shiny new facilities building and up to his spacious and nicely appointed office, University of Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall walks past the Huskies' slowly decaying former home. Memorial Stadium, a quaint and cramped home for Yankee Conference football, is no longer used by the Huskies. They have a posh new home in East Hartford called Rentschler Field.
"Having the stadium there is a reminder each and every day of where we came from and what we achieved," Edsall said Sunday after his team was selected to play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Now that Edsall has spent 12 years building UConn from a relatively unknown Division I-AA program into something of a national football name -- the Huskies earned their second Big East title and their first BCS bowl -- he's likely to become even more of a hot coaching commodity.
Edsall's name has been linked to coaching vacancies in previous years, but this offseason he might find the temptation to leave too lucrative to resist. His stock has never been higher.
Edsall has two years remaining on his contract with UConn, which calls for him to make $1.55 million for this academic year. He also will receive a $100,000 bonus for leading the Huskies to a BCS bowl game.
Should Edsall decide to take another college coaching job -- or an NFL job, for that matter -- he would owe UConn $500,000. After the first of the year, that buyout drops to $400,000.
Those are all big numbers, but a relative pittance compared to what some big-time programs will pay to have their pick of the coaching litter.
Timing is extremely important if a coach is to move on. Not only do you often have to strike when the iron is hot, you have to find someone who needs a talented blacksmith immediately.
There are some head coaching jobs open across the country now, but do any of those schools think highly enough of Edsall? Or, perhaps Edsall is at a place now where he's too good for some of them?
But there are other programs with openings, and perhaps more to come. Miami recently fired Randy Shannon, and Edsall's name has already been linked to that job.
UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway was not immediately available for comment Monday but he's said in the past that "if people are interested in our coaches, that means they're doing a good job." Typically, a university looking to hire a coach away from another school would contact the coach's current athletic director for permission to speak with that coach.
Hathaway's stated policy with the news media is to not talk about coaching hires or departures until they are official. Still, a source close to the program indicated that Hathaway had yet to be contacted by anyone seeking access to Edsall.
Edsall himself said last week that he hasn't discussed any open coaching jobs with anyone. Having spent 12 years at UConn, his tenure is tied for the seventh longest among FBS coaches.
"I haven't talked to anybody. Nobody's talked to me," Edsall said.
It's highly unlikely that Edsall is lying about the contact. For one, he takes pride in his honest, straightforward approach, and secondly, it's a fib that can sometimes mar a coach's public image.
But it's still possible that schools have used back channels to gauge Edsall's interest or even made a behind-the-scenes offer.
Miami has hired headhunter Chuck Neinas to assist with its search, and often it's men like Neinas who do much of the talking to agents and other insiders before school officials become involved.
Not only do insiders like Neinas -- the former commissioner of the Big 8 Conference and ex-head of the College Football Association -- have contacts and influence around the country, the use of such a go-between gives both parties plausible deniability if a match isn't made right away. Sometimes a coach being hired is the university's third choice, but an athletic director might still claim "he's the only candidate we interviewed."
Although it appears he never interviewed, Edsall was a candidate for the Notre Dame vacancy last season that was filled by Brian Kelly. The year before he was courted by his alma mater, Syracuse, though discussions about such a seemingly lateral move were never believed to be serious, and the Orange hired Doug Marrone. In November 2007 Edsall interviewed for Georgia Tech's head coaching job, a spot eventually filled by Paul Johnson.
If it was a factor in his decision to remain at UConn before, the fact that both of Edsall's children will soon be out of high school could make his decision to move on easier. Edsall's daughter, Alexi, is a student at UConn while his son, Corey, is a senior at East Catholic High School in Manchester.