On the surface, Maryland football coach Randy Edsall would seem to be in for an unusual week as he faces a program he oversaw for more than a decade.
Yet it appears to be business as usual in College Park as the Terrapins (2-0) prepare for Saturday’s visit from Connecticut.
“I haven’t done anything different up to this point and I’m not going to do anything different from here on in,” Edsall said Tuesday. “When the game’s over, there are people I’ll see and say hello to and wish them well, but my approach, my focus, what I need to do to prepare my players — the University of Maryland players — that’s what I’m going to continue to do the rest of the week.”
This reunion was one of the few certainties in place when Edsall departed Connecticut after 12 seasons early last year. The two-game contract, signed well before Edsall’s decision to accept a six-year, $12 million deal at Maryland, calls for the Terps to play at Connecticut early next season.
Edsall helped shepherd the Huskies through a transition from the former Division I-AA, and his run was capped when Connecticut won the Big East title and faced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2010 season.
He flew east separate from the Huskies after that game. Less than 24 hours later, Edsall had interviewed for and accepted the Maryland job. Connecticut players found out on a conference call that Edsall’s 12-year tenure, which yielded a 74-70 record, was over.
“The one thing if I had a do-over, and it’s something I have to live with, I wish I could have talked to those players in person,” Edsall said. “But the circumstances in our profession is one didn’t allow that. As I said, that’s something I have to live with.”
Edsall isn’t the only tie between the programs. He initially retained defensive coordinator Don Brown from ex-Terps coach Ralph Friedgen’s staff, but Brown departed shortly after national signing day to become new Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni’s defensive coordinator.
Contact between Edsall and his former players since his move to Maryland is limited, in accordance with NCAA rules.
“I’m not allowed to talk to former players when I’m here,” Edsall said. “When they graduate, I talk to them. But as far as the current players, you really can’t have a relationship.”
Neither program immediately thrived after the related coaching changes. Maryland stumbled to a 2-10 season in Edsall’s debut, then dealt with offseason attrition and injuries before winning their first two games this month.
Connecticut, meanwhile, went 5-7 in coach Paul Pasqualoni’s first season and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2006. The Huskies split their first two games and now will see a familiar face on the opposing sideline.
“The kids all know,” Pasqualoni said Monday. “They’re obviously going to Maryland and coach Edsall is there now. We’ve [done] all we can do to concentrate and get ready to play. Coach Edsall is not playing in this game and there aren’t any coaches on the field.”
Edsall described Connecticut as “a very special place” and thanked various dignitaries, including UConn’s former athletic director and president, for the opportunity to grow the Huskies’ program.
As he has since he accepted the Maryland job, Edsall emphasized the decision to leave as one that would place him within 80 miles of his boyhood home of Glen Rock, Pa.