Susquehannock grad Randy Edsall gets contract extension as UConn's head football coach

DOM AMORE
Hartford Courant (TNS)
Randy Edsall

Impressed with the program building and management, UConn athletic director David Benedict made a move recently to keep UConn football and men’s basketball on course, extending the contracts of coaches Randy Edsall and Dan Hurley.

Edsall, who has a 6-30 record in three seasons since returning to UConn, guided the football program through the decision last summer to cancel the season due to COVID-19 and has built his roster for its independent schedule beginning in 2021. He is now signed through the 2023 season, with compensation valued at $1.256 million for next year.

Edsall is a Susquehannock High School graduate.

“When we made this hire, and we made the change, we knew it was going to require patience,” Benedict said. “I’m really happy that Randy is going into a season next year with a handful of redshirt seniors. We’ll be less reliant on true freshman. It’s a sign of the maturity of the program, and I’m excited to see how things progress here over the next several years.”

Hurley, in his third year, has delivered the men’s basketball team back to national relevance on the timetable he laid out from the start. He is now signed through the 2026-27 season with compensation valued at $2.9 million through next season. Taking over program that had ebbed at 14-18, Hurley has led the Huskies to the verge of returning to NCAA Tournament after a five-year absence.

When Benedict replaced Warde Manuel in 2016, he followed through with planned extensions for football coach Bob Diaco and men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie. Diaco had led UConn to a bowl game in his second season, but the program sank again. Benedict felt compelled to fire him, the school having to pay off more than $5 million remaining on his contract. Ollie, who had coached the Huskies to the national championship in 2014, won 25 games in 2015-16 and had a highly rated recruiting class coming in, got three additional years. After two consecutive losing seasons, UConn’s first since 1986, he was fired for cause with the school under NCAA investigation which later resulted in sanctions. Ollie and UConn have been fighting in the courts since March 2018 over the $11 million remaining on his contract.

This time, Benedict said he is in a better position to make the decisions to extend and had no trepidation in committing the university to these coaches.

“The major difference between what I’m doing here and what I did when I got here is that I actually know the people I am giving these extensions to,” Benedict said, “I’ve been around Randy now for almost four years, Dan’s been here for three years, so I understand and have a basis to make those decisions whereas before, you’re being asked to go on other people’s decisions and you’re looking at certain set of facts and results, but there’s a limit to what you can learn. I think I have a much better handle and feel for the commitment I’m making.”

Edsall "appreciative:" Edsall, 62, was the coach who guided UConn football to the FBS level and led the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl in 2011 before leaving for Maryland. His overall record at both schools is 102-134, and he also has extensive NFL experience. A number of his former UConn players have gone on to NFL careers.

“I’m very appreciative that David and the university leadership understand what goes into rebuilding a football program here at UConn,” Edsall said. “We are looking to reap the benefits of the hard work that our players and coaches have put forth as we head into the 2021 season.”

No games in 2020: With no games in 2020, Edsall and the UConn staff have focused on training and conditioning. The Huskies, who left the American Athletic Conference and will play as an independent, are now in the midst of spring practice for the opening of the 2021 season at Fresno State on Aug. 28.

“I don’t think, especially with this COVID year, that five years is enough to rebuild this program because you are really starting over,” Benedict said, “This is a developmental program. You have to recruit kids that you’re projecting will be competitive at this level, but they have to be developed and that takes time. … Now, it comes down to performance, and Randy certainly understands that. Now we have to begin to make strides on the field.”

Both extensions are in the form of amendments to the existing contracts, with salary structure and various bonuses clauses remaining through the end.