Randy Edsall, 'The Deserter,' His Usual Rehearsed Self

Randy Edsall

University of Connecticut Spring Football practice --- Making contact with a player during the first day of spring drills at the University of Ct. football practice field, head coach Randy Edsall said to his team at the end of practice, I want full speed every day, every practice (Hartford Courant File Photo / September 10, 2012)


Randy Edsall had his one-liner as ready as that inside handoff on first down that used to go for 2 yards and a cloud of vanilla.

"We'll try to keep it brief so you guys can get to lunch," The Deserter said. "I know you're all waiting to get your lunch in."

From the moment he appeared in Storrs in December 1998 until the moment he disappeared in the Arizona desert in January 2011, Edsall always spoke as if he was addressing a chamber of commerce luncheon. He always sounded as if he had just rehearsed in front of the mirror. It almost always works when he's serious. It almost never works when he's joking. The Deserter never could do funny.

The truth is nobody was in a rush to get to the lasagna Tuesday at UConn's weekly media luncheon, not even the big, fat, out-of-shape media. Everybody was dying to hear what The Deserter had to say, even though everybody figured he'd play it closer to the vest than his play-calling.

He finally got to what people wanted to know.

"If I could do it over again, I wished there was some way I was able to see the players and tell them face to face that I was going to leave," Edsall said. "But due to the circumstances surrounding that, I wasn't able to do that. That's something I've got to live with."

Edsall spoke on the teleconference for nine minutes. His opening statement lasted four minutes, 45 seconds. He was in control. In case anybody forgot, he always is in control. Randy Edsall put the freak in control freak and, yes, that is meant both as a compliment and a criticism.

"I'm deeply indebted to UConn and the state of Connecticut," Edsall said. He thanked Lew Perkins, Phil Austin, John Rowland and Tom Ritter. He did not thank Jeff Hathaway. Give Edsall his marks. He wasn't disingenuous on that point. He did turn around and rave that the UConn offensive line is really jelling, which if he had watched the game film half as much I suspect he did, he was entirely disingenuous.

As Randy's Old Team readies itself to play Randy's New Team Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium, the truth is the fan base of neither school cares much for Edsall these days. His alleged "dream job" at Maryland became a nightmare last season, ending with John Feinstein of the Washington Post calling for his immediate firing. Although his Terps are off to a 2-0 start with tight wins over William & Mary and Temple, he's only a loss to UConn away from more incoming fire.

Once he spoke about the way he left, that was it. Edsall made it clear he'd only take questions about Saturday. When asked how his relationship with the UConn players he recruited is and if he plans to talk to them after the game, Edsall was at his anal-retentive best: "You have NCAA rules where you can't talk to players that aren't on your campus. I'm sure after the game I'll get a chance to see some of them and say hello."

And what will they say back?

"We'll see how it goes," Blidi Wreh-Wilson said.

Wilson told The Courant last season, "Coach Pasqualoni has his rules, too, but it's not like we feel it's something out to get us."

Immediately after the 10-7 loss to North Carolina State, yes, Ryan Wirth did talk about how fired up the team would be to face Edsall and Maryland.

"You caught him at the wrong time. He was emotional," Wreh-Wilson said. "We put a block on it for this week. Together, we made a commitment to avoid [bulletin board material]."

So there would be nothing said about the rules and regulations, precious little about Edsall abandoning his ship.

"The wound is healed," Ryan Griffin said. "This program, this building [the Burton Family Complex], he built it."

So Edsall is an architect.

"I'm glad he got his dream job," Trevardo Williams said. "I would do the same thing. I won't lie."

Making Jordan Todman stand up after the game to tell the team he was leaving early for the NFL, yet not saying anything to his assistants or players and bolting directly on a jet for Maryland?