Randy Edsall met with the UConn football team in the locker room Saturday night after the 48-20 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma, asking if anyone wanted tospeak. The captains addressed the team, and running back Jordan Todman announced that he was leaving the program to turn pro.
No one knew at the time that Edsall was leaving the University of Connecticut, too.
Not much more than 12 hours after that meeting, the Internet was lit up with reports that Edsall would be named coach at the University of Maryland. Those reports proved true.
Edsall, 52, will be introduced at a press conference today at 2 p.m. in College Park, Md. He met with Maryland players Sunday afternoon, and his hiring was announced by Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson.
UConn said it would not comment on the coaching situation until after Edsall's press conference today, but a source said the school expects to have a replacement in one to two weeks. Coincidentally, UConn is scheduled to play at Maryland in 2012, and host the Terps in 2013.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Edsall and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach were among three finalists at Maryland.
"[Edsall] is going to recruit young men that are good citizens, good students and good athletes," search committee chairman Randy Eaton told The Sun. "He talked extensively about modifying his system to fit the strengths of the players on his team. Other candidates expressed interest in maintaining their schemes regardless of how their player personnel fit into those schemes."
Many UConn players first learned that their coach was Maryland-bound through e-mails, voice mails and text messages after their flight home from Phoenix on Sunday.
Junior wide receiver Kashif Moore expressed disappointment with Edsall's decision, but said he understood it.
"It's disappointing but at the same time, Coach Edsall has done so much for the program," Moore said. "I love him as a person and what he did for us after Jazz [Jasper Howard] was killed."
"I respect him for that but at the end of the day, and I learned this when I was getting recruited, this is a business. We can't ever forget that."
Moore, who wore Howard's No. 6 in the Fiesta Bowl as a tribute to his former teammate, who was killed in a 2009 campus stabbing, said that after the captains and Todman spoke Saturday, Edsall said nothing about leaving.
"I mean, he could have told us then," Moore said.
Moore was not on the UConn team's charter flight home from Phoenix, but a freshman player who was said the players were surprised when they learned that Edsall was leaving.
"[Edsall] made Jordan address the team to say he was leaving, and he isn't man enough to do it face to face to us?" said the player, who did not want to be identified.
"As we were landing and turned on our phones, we all started getting text messages from people saying, 'Hey, have you heard? What do you think? What's going on?' "
There were no more than 25 players on the Huskies' charter flight. Because UConn is on semester break, many players went home their own way.
The freshman player said that Edsall held an impromptu conference call from Maryland with a few of the players who were on the plane after it landed.
"We were on hold for a half-hour, with the operations manager telling us Edsall would be coming on in a few minutes," the freshman player said. "When Edsall came on he was like, 'I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry I can't do this in person, but due to circumstances ... I just want to let you know that it's not because of you guys. But it's an opportunity for my family. ... I can move on feeling like I've accomplished things here and I'm leaving the program in a good way.' "
The player said that Edsall added: "Guys, this just happened. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I had no idea."
Sources said that Edsall was in contract negotiations with Maryland last week. The school did not retain Ralph Friedgen, who was coach for 10 seasons.
The Washington Post reported that Edsall plans to bring three UConn assistants - offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, running backs coach Terry Richardson and special teams coordinator Lyndon Johnson - with him to Maryland.
Edsall compiled a 74-70 record in 12 seasons at UConn. He led the program from Division I-AA to I-A in 2002, and through the opening of Rentschler Field in 2003 and its first season as a member of the Big East in 2004.
He led the Huskies to a BCS bowl game in quick fashion, squeezing out shares of the Big East title in 2007 and 2010. He was a pillar of strength on campus following the stabbing death of Howard, and guided the program to notable wins over Notre Dame and South Carolina last season.
The 2010 season included a five-game winning streak with a first-ever win over West Virginia and another big victory against Pittsburgh, with Edsall winning Big East co-coach of the year honors.
In the end, Edsall might have felt as if he took the program as far as it could go.
But there were other issues that Edsall faced that might have led to his decision, too.
Sources said that Edsall had become more vocal about pending stricter admission guidelines at UConn that will affect the football program.
Maryland, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, has strict guidelines as well, but Edsall might have a better chance of at least working with officials at Maryland.
At UConn, the source said, he had no shot to "work with" anyone. There are currently players on other Big East football teams that could not meet UConn's academic standards.
Edsall signed a five-year contract in 2008 through the end of next season. He made $1.55 million this season, not including the $100,000 bonus he earned for getting the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl, a BCS game. He was set to make $1.65 million this season and $1.7 million in 2012.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times