For 12 years, Randy Edsall was the steward of a dream at the University of Connecticut, the man charged with bringing big-time football to Storrs.
Or at least, East Hartford.
And for 12 years, Edsall delivered.
He led the upstart Huskies to five bowl games. He made football matter with the unlikeliest of heroes, the players so many other coaches overlooked.
The 52-year-old Edsall became the ambassador of a UConn program that made Saturday afternoons an event at Rentschler Field.
The block “C” on those shiny, blue helmets stood for everyone in Connecticut, not just those on the field or in the stands.
This was State U., after all. This was our team.
So tell me: How does that change on a dime?
I don’t begrudge Edsall for leaving UConn for the University of Maryland after Saturday’s 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
I don’t begrudge Edsall for signing a five-year contract believed to be in the neighborhood of $10 million, according to news reports, a raise of half a million dollars a year.
The man earned this moment.
And UConn fans should be happy for him.
Did Edsall handle his departure poorly by not talking face-to-face with his staff and his players before he left for Maryland last week?
Does Edsall deserve better than knee-jerk bashing by Husky fans, especially after he built the UConn football program into a two-time Big East champion and a Bowl Championship Series outsider no more?
I don’t understand how some can call Edsall a “traitor” or a “weasel” — slurs I’ve heard or read the past few days — after everything he did for an obscure, regional football program with no players, no facilities and no history.
And let’s be honest here — those warm-and-fuzzy Yankee Conference years in Storrs don’t carry much currency on the national stage.
I suspect that the people ripping Edsall now are the same ones who were calling for his job after UConn’s miserable 26-0 loss at Louisville in October.
Understand, Edsall fulfilled a promise and more at UConn. He deserves better than potshots on Twitter and Facebook and sports blogs.
After helping UConn earn the Big East’s automatic bid to the BCS, Edsall’s stock was never higher than in 2010.
If he were ever going to leave, this was the season to do it.
To read more about Randy Edsall’s departure to Maryland — and all the social media sucker-punches — check out my “Take on Life” column Wednesday.
Exclusively in the print edition of The News-Times.