Although he didn’t have the success that Jim Calhoun experienced on the men’s basketball side, University of Connecticut men’s football coach Randy Edsall has been a fixture in Storrs for a comparable amount of time. When the school reinstated the football program for the 2000 season, Edsall was tabbed as the person to lead it. He gave the Huskies credibility in the latter part of the 2000’s, finishing over .500 and qualifying for a bowl game in the last four seasons of the decade.
After Paul Pasqualoni and Bob Diaco assumed head coaching duties from 2011 through 2016, Edsall returned for a second stint with the program in 2017. It has not gone as well as the first stretch, and it was determined earlier this month that this would be Edsall’s final campaign before he retired. Somewhat shockingly, that timeline was greatly accelerated about 24 hours later, when the program announced that Edsall’s retirement would take immediate effect.
While Connecticut football has not traditionally been a powerhouse, they do play in a respectable American Athletic Conference, which has featured teams in the Top 25. Since the program is at a crossroads, they’ll look to make a hire that can help them become a factor in the AAC. Let’s take a look at three candidates who they should consider.
Spanos was tabbed as the interim head coach after the sudden departure of Edsall. Before sitting in the big chair, he was the Huskies’ defensive coordinator, and arrived in Storrs in the spring of 2019. Spanos has been in football for a long time, having served as a linebackers coach for Tennessee Titans, and the defensive coordinator for UCLA in 2012-2013. While the points allowed metrics in Spanos’ tenure with Connecticut are not pretty, he seems to be well liked by the players. In order for him to be considered for the full time gig, the Huskies defense will need to improve, but his manner of communicating with players is a feather in his cap.
O’Brien is certainly a familiar name in college football and NFL circles. Most recently, he was the head coach of the Houston Texans from 2014 through 2020. Before that, he served as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2012 through 2013. O’Brien’s current role as offensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide could be a gateway to the top job there if Nick Saban were to ever call it quits. He might not come cheap, but if the Huskies are looking to put themselves on the map with a brand name coach(who by the way, made the playoffs more often than not with the Texans), O’Brien is a person to consider.
The Connecticut football team hasn’t had much success in the last 20 years, but when they have, quarterback Dan Orlovsky was at the center of it. His 2003-2004 seasons garnered enough attention for him to be selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Orlovsky is better known these days as an analyst and media personality for ESPN, but bringing the Huskies alum home would certainly reinvigorate the fan base. It has been reported that NFL franchises have* contacted the former NFL quarterback about coaching in the past, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that he might be on the sidelines in the near future. Orlovsky recently shared the type of qualities that he would want the program to look for in its search, and he might embody a lot of what he’s referring to in his quote.
“Program needs someone to lead it that it’s personal to. That can recruit talent with a vision. That will pill the absolute best out the athletes and won’t be scared to coach them hard,” he said. Via Twitter.com