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Get To Know The Defensive Coordinator Candidates: Randy Edsall

The former longtime UConn head coach ushered the Huskies out of Division I-AA and into the Big East/AAC. After a stint at Maryland that led the Terps into the Big Ten, could a return to the ACC be in order?

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports


1976-1979: Player, Syracuse University (Quarterback)

1980-1982: Syracuse University (Graduate Assistant)
1983-1984: Syracuse University (Running Backs)
1985: Syracuse University (Tight Ends)
1986: Syracuse University (Running Backs)
1987-1990: Syracuse University (Defensive Backs)
1991-1993: Boston College (Defensive Backs)
1994-1997: Jacksonville Jaguars (Defensive Backs)
1998: Georgia Tech (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
1999-2010: University of Connecticut (Head Coach)
2011-2015: University of Maryland (Head Coach)

Why Edsall:

Randy Edsall is a truly intriguing name. He spent a decade-plus at Connecticut, ushering the Huskies through a period of transition that's been a model for teams looking to move from Division 1-AA into so-called "big boy football." He built the UConn program into a powerhouse, and he arguably had them as the best regional team in 2010 when he took the then-Big East champions to the Fiesta Bowl. After leaving UConn, he took on the head job at Maryland but barely got the Terps bowl eligible, struggling to right the ship as the program transitioned out of the ACC and into the Big Ten.

For the most part, Edsall was a solid defensive coach. In his last year at UConn, the Huskies won five Big East games in a row, holding opponents in four of those games to under 20 points. In the process, he became known as a good developer of talent, placing four draft picks in the first two rounds of the 2009 NFL Draft, including first round pick Darius Butler and Will Beatty.

One could argue Edsall was the sacrificial lamb in Maryland's move to the Big Ten. In three years in the ACC, he improved the Terps from a 2-10 team his first year to bowl eligible in his third year. In moving to the Big Ten, he kept Maryland's head above water with a 7-5 regular season that included wins over Penn State and Michigan, finishing third in a Big Ten East Division behind only Ohio State (the eventual national champions) and Michigan State. This past year, he had the Terps at 2-1 before the season fell apart, leading Maryland to terminate him after blowout losses to West Virginia, #22 Michigan, and #1 Ohio State. To an extent, that may have been itchy trigger finger on the Maryland athletic department's part.

Given some of the options out there, Edsall represents an independent thinker, the same type of coach as Don Brown who can operate independently of the rest of the coaching staff. That will open up the opportunity for Steve Addazio to continue fixing the offense, while the continuity of building a successful defense continues. In addition, it's a throwback to the Tom Coughlin era, one of the most successful in BC's history, a branch off a coaching tree that's produced Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, and Matt Rhule.

Why Not Edsall:

Edsall was a defensive coordinator for approximately one season when Georgia Tech finished as co-champions of the ACC under George O'Leary. Other than that, he's never been a defensive coordinator working under someone.

For a defensive coach, we talk a lot about his time at UConn but tend to gloss over his Maryland. With the exception of when Maryland finished 10th in total defense in 2012, the Terps finished 97th (2011), 51st (2013), 95th (2014), and 84th (2015, when he was fired after six games). That's hardly a sterling resume from which to choose from, and with BC's status as the most elite defense in college football, you might not want to hand the keys to a guy who spent the majority of the last five years getting blown off the ball.

While Steve Addazio is known as an emotional coach, his assistants, for the most part, seem more calm and level-headed. This past season, the former Maryland coach didn't like the line of questioning asked of him about his job status and immediately stormed off.

Additionally, there are holes worth poking at the UConn success. Connecticut never really became a Big East power player until after teams in front of them left. They had to wait for Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech to depart so they could win a watered-down conference and pick up a token BCS bowl bid. The year they won the Big East, they finished as one of three 5-2 teams. They won eight games overall and lost to all the power conference teams they played not named Vanderbilt (including a loss to Temple under Al Golden and Matt Rhule). When it came time to play a big boy team in the Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma waxed them. Though one could argue UConn was barely a Division 1-A program back then, the Big East was closer to its death knell than its heyday.

Where he's been a head coach in the past, he hasn't been a coordinator, which means he's not used to working under someone. As much as we talk about the Don Brown defense and who was the architect, there's still an element where the defense and offense have to work in unison. If a guy's never worked in a system, there may be something of a learning curve to that. As a result, it might not be the best idea for him to come.

The Bottom Line:

Randy Edsall has a lot of experience as a head coach, but BC isn't looking for a head coach. At the same time, they're also not looking for a reclamation project. If Edsall comes in and does well, he serves a little bit as a flight risk, which you don't want after one or two seasons. Even Don Brown stuck around for three years - enough to get his system installed.

Edsall was a great builder of a program, and he's probably going to get another shot as a head coach. Even though he failed to bring glory to Maryland, he still has the reputation of being the guy who made Connecticut a legitimate program with legitimate players. At this stage of the game, BC needs guys who are are familiar with Steve Addazio and vice-versa. I think Edsall is a fine football coach, but I think he would be a great addition to any team looking for a guy who can be invested with time to build a program. But does that sound like someone you want as your defensive coordinator? Or does that sound like someone who would be better suited to be a head coach in the Sun Belt Conference?