Connecticut will welcome Randy Edsall back as head coach of the Huskies football program Friday morning at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. It is free and open to the public.
It has been a surprising and eventful week in Storrs. With everyone assuming that Bob Diaco would return for his fourth season at UConn, the unexpected announcement came Monday morning that Diaco had been relieved of his duties, effective Jan. 2, 2017. Diaco was 11-16 at UConn after a 3-9 record this past season.
Edsall returns after winning 74 games at UConn between 1999 and 2010. He left for Maryland after the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. He coached at Maryland until 2015 and spent the last year as Director of Research – Special Projects for the NFL Detroit Lions.
Here’s my look at Edsall’s return, published by FanRagSports on Wednesday.
In addition, here’s a look back at Edsall’s career written just before the Huskies left for that Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma. I thought it might be interesting to read about Edsall’s “dreams” before he split for Maryland, an act that irritated many at UConn.
It was a strange and somewhat confusing three years under Diaco, who was known for his unusual press conferences and comments that seemed to come from another universe.
Here’s a look back at some oF Diaco’s most colorful comments, including my-all time personal favorite: The “Baby Lifting the Coffee Table” story.
THE BEST OF BOB DIACO
(On the program he inherited) “The fact of the matter is it [the program] was a mess. A giant mess. It’s just a much smaller mess. It’s been well documented, because I’ve never shied away from what it was. Whether it be the physical development of the team; I think that was initially so shocking and profound. How physically weak and fat the players were. That was profound.”
(On the Civil ConFLict with UCF) “They don’t get to say whether they’re our rival or not. We might not be their rival, but they don’t get to say whether they’re our rival. That’s for us to decide.”
“I might be a little jaded, I might not come up with anything anymore with the flat-out haymakers I have taken over this. The idea worked and I pose this challenge: What matchup even including the championship game has been more widely covered than the conFLiCT. What matchup, bring it to my attention. I am very interested so an obscure game that would have been meaningless otherwise, that had no energy at all for two years that really never played each other became a national conversation. That is a bad thing? It definitely filled some papers.”
I got all kinds of ideas on networks. Right? Let’s target 6-year-olds to 16-year-olds. How about that? Eventually, they’re going to be 18 to 35. Let’s broadcast our games on Nickelodeon. Who owns that? Viacom? Let’s create some real intrigue. Let’s create some real followship. That’s all I was trying to do.
“That is what you want to hear, that is what you want to say,” Diaco said. “We are going to win every game, we are going to play as one of the four teams in the playoff and win a national championship. You laugh and that’s OK, I’m good on that.”
“People say we’re a basketball school. Not only are we a basketball school, but we’re a women’s basketball school, and I don’t minimize that at all,” Diaco said. “… As far as I’m concerned, the strength of the brand is coast to coast. We bring the Huskie head image to LA, Dallas, Cincinnati, south Florida, the Midwest, anywhere, and the brand is recognizable. Almost exclusively, men’s and women’s basketball has created that great brand strength.”
“An energy bucket is just what it sounds like. You’re either filling my energy bucket up up or emptying it out. Or an energy vampire. When I get around an energy vampire, I cover up my neck, I don’t want you to suck all the energy out.”
“Common thought might be you’re on the right track, this thing has turned, you have a game and a moment where the stadium storms the field and we’re singing and dancing and hugging as a collective UConn Nation,” Diaco said. “And then to get off the plane in South Florida to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl … it would be easy to say we’re just going to pick up where we left off. But you grab the fish oil. Now you have fish cake. The jar of vanilla looks very similar to the jar of fish oil. It would be very easy to do, but how different it would taste. It would be a completely different product altogether. It’s important that with even one new ingredient, one new change, that we re-put the whole thing back together.”
“We’re really honing in on and harping on the overall understanding of what it means to defend and be a defender. So we’ve taken the imagery of Batman. We have video on the overhead and went through it all and talked about how Batman has no special powers, he’s just a regular guy who made a decision to train and prepare and commit his life to defending.”
“Somebody better tell Maine!” Diaco said. “Somebody better tell Navy! Then we have two ACC teams coming [Virginia and Syracuse]. Somebody better tell ’em! Somebody better tell ’em! Then we get on a plane for an ESPN prime-time matchup, a rematch against Houston at Houston. Somebody better tell ’em!”
It’s like a baby trying to lift a coffee table. Did the baby get upset that it didn’t lift the coffee table? Probably not. It’s frustrated. You can see it on his face, But we understand where we’re at as a team. Theyknow. And we’re going to be ready and excited to play this game Saturday night.”
“It’s hard to win not having production on one side of the ball. It’ll be fixed. I know what the issues are and they’re going to be fixed. And that’s why we’re disappointed.”
“I am shocked. We were much better. Had some of the early games been either coached better, played a little better or gone differently, the circumstances right now would be completely different. This is like a Molotov cocktail of ugliness right now.”