COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — When Randy Edsall was head football coach at Connecticut, he played a significant role in getting a non-league matchup against Maryland on the Huskies’ 2012 schedule.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Edsall is now coaching the Terrapins, and like it or not, he is the focus of Saturday’s game against his former team.
Edsall left Connecticut immediately after a 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. He signed a six-year contract with Maryland before telling his players he was taking what he long considered to be his dream job.
A few of the Huskies have forgiven him for his abrupt departure. Others have not.
“It’s really important that we win for me in the future to be able to say, `Wow, I played against Edsall and I won,”‘ said UConn senior tackle Trevardo Williams, who was recruited by Edsall.
The Terps’ coach has expressed regret over the fashion in which he exited.
“If I had a do-over — and this is something I have to live with — I wish I could have talked to those players in person,” Edsall said. “But the circumstances in our profession didn’t allow that.”
And if he could do it again, Edsall wouldn’t have worked so hard at Connecticut to put Maryland on the schedule.
“It gave me a chance to come back home and play a game down here,” he recalled. “When I was at UConn, I thought that it would be a good game for us from a standpoint of recruiting down here, but also the standpoint of just getting down to this area.”
Edsall attended basketball camp in College Park as a youth and spent many a Saturday afternoon at Byrd Stadium watching the Terrapins play football. On Saturday, his view will be from the sideline with Maryland attempting to go 3-0 and surpass its victory total in Edsall’s first season at the school.
That, Edsall insists, is the real significance of this game against the Huskies (1-1).
“This week is really no different to me than any other week,” he said. “It’s just Game 3 on our schedule. There are some people that I’d like to see after the game to say hello to and wish them well, but I am going to continue to focus on my players, the University of Maryland players, all week.”
The Terrapins do not appear to have gotten wrapped up in the Edsall vs. UConn saga.
“We haven’t been talking about that,” offensive tackle Justin Gilbert said. “Coach made it perfectly clear from us from the start that this is just another game. It doesn’t matter if it’s Connecticut or Virginia Tech, it’s the next game on our schedule.”
Edsall became coach at Connecticut in 1999 and lifted the program from Division I-AA (now Football Championship Subdivision) into a power in the Big East.
“I thought Randy left the culture of the program very good,” said Paul Pasqualoni, who took over for Edsall. “He, from an off-the-field standpoint, understood the expectations academically. I think the academic record here, prior to me getting here, speaks for itself. When I came in here, the transition for the kids, in regards to the expectations in all areas, I don’t think was that much different.”
Edsall won’t be the only coach going up against his former team Saturday. Connecticut defensive coordinator Don Brown held the same job as Maryland for two years before Edsall came aboard.
“He’s going to bring somebody almost every play, so we’ve got to be able to pick that up,” Gilbert said.
After opening with a 37-0 win over Maine, the Huskies slipped at home last week in a 10-7 loss to North Carolina State. Revving up the offense is a must against Maryland.
“We know we are a lot better than the way we played,” quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. “We’ve all seen it, we’ve done it before, so we know it. It’s just a matter of doing it consistently on a day-to-day basis.”
Williams, who had five tackles and 2 1/2 sacks against the Wolfpack, isn’t asking for much help.
“Just give us two touchdowns,” he said, “and we’ll do the rest for you.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)