Well, this is some surprising news on a random Sunday after the first full weekend of the college football season.
But, we have our first movement on the 2021 college football coaching carousel.
Well, sort of.
That's because UConn head coach Randy Edsall announced on Sunday afternoon that he plans to retire at the end of this season. Meaning we have our first opening on the cycle.
In a lot of ways, this news is both surprising and it isn't at all.
On the one hand, it is surprising from the perspective that no one seems to have really seen this coming. Yes, Edsall has been bad since his return to UConn (much more on that coming in a minute) but at the same time, there was no indication that he was actually ready to step away.
Because UConn is in such a tough position - as an independent, with a minimal to non-existent recruiting base - everyone assumed that Edsall would be given the benefit of the doubt and that he would be given every chance to keep the job if he could produce even minimal results. UConn didn't show up on any preseason "hot seat" coaching lists, nor was it a job that was expected to open.
Which makes you wonder if he's really "retiring" or if he's being forced out. Just speculation on my part, but it kind of seems like the deal here.
Which is why this news really isn't surprising at all.
By all accounts, the Randy Edsall 2.0 era has been a colossal failure. I talked about it on the Aaron Torres Podcast last week (you can listen to audio here or below) but it's even worse than many realize. Edsall is now 6-32 since returning in 2017, with three of those wins coming against FCS programs. Of the three non-FCS wins, two came in his opening season, with a roster full of players he didn't recruit.
So yeah, it's been bad.
Yet it's somehow been worse in 2021.
Last week, the Huskies opened with an embarrassing 45-0 loss to Fresno State, in a game in which they barely mustered 100 yards of total offense. Then on Saturday, it somehow got worse, as UConn lost 38-28 to Holy Cross.
Yes, Holy Cross. An FCS team that isn't even ranked in the Top 25.
What was especially scary about this game is that there was nothing fluky about it. Holy Cross looked every bit as good as the Huskies, and athletically, you couldn't tell the difference between who was the FBS team with 85 scholarship players and who wasn't.
What made all this even more alarming is that the 0-2 start, with a loss to an FCS team came after UConn didn't play at all in 2020. To make matters worse, Edsall spent all of last year claiming that it was the best thing for the program, as a season to use in the weight room to get stronger and in the film room to learn the playbook.
And to be blunt, that isn't an exaggeration. Here is his exact quote:
“Put any game on,” Edsall said at UConn football’s media day Thursday. “Really, put those things on. And I think if you talk to the kids, they’ll say, ‘I feel so much stronger, I feel so much better physically, so much better from a mental standpoint knowing things.’”
Well, those kind of excuses fall flat... you know, when you lose to FCS teams by double-digits.
In the end, Edsall will always be appreciated for what he did for UConn, taking it from an FCS program itself in the late 1990's and early 2000's, to a school which made four bowl games in his final four years before leaving for Maryland.
At the same time, it was clear that the Edsall Era 2.0 was an utter disaster.
Yes, UConn is an independent school, in a small state with a small recruiting base. But there is no excuse for this program to be this bad.
No one expects the Huskies to compete for national championships or playoff berths or even get to the major bowl game it did a decade ago.
But it feels like the right coach could get this team to 6-6 every once in a while (especially with the schedules they've built) and a bowl game every now and again. It isn't too much to ask. Even at such a tough job.
Now, UConn has a full four months to find their next head coach.
And with all the young FCS coaches, coordinators and others out there, there's no reason to think that the right coach is available.
To be blunt, he can't be worse than Randy Edsall the second time around.