Much like Holtz another name that was assumed to have a place in the candidate pool was that of current Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall. Like Holtz, Edsall was a Perkins hire and brought the Huskies into the Division 1A ranks.
Edsall hasn't had much run of late in the media as it pertains to the Kansas job but wouldn't Lew have to take a look at this one based on the past relationship and his success with the program?
There are certainly areas of concern with Edsall but he does have some experience around some solid coaches in the past and he has been successful with a team that has only been in division one for 11 seasons now. Edsall has had his name float around with several jobs of late including the Irish. So what does his resume have to offer the Jayhawks? Let's get to know Randy Edsall a little more, shall we.
First and foremost the thing that jumps out at me with Edsall is he's been an east coast guy his entire career. That's a definite concern. At the same time, perhaps like Holtz his past relationship with Perkins could afford a unique opportunity to help retain some of the staff that has been instrumental in Kansas' recent uptick on the recruiting front. Purely speculation at this point but it doesn't seem entirely out of the question.
In terms of his football career, Edsall spent his playing days with the Syracuse Orangemen from '76-'79 before taking a position as a coordinator with his alma mater immediately following graduation. Edsall spent the next decade with the Orange after accepting a position to work with his one time coach Tom Coughlin. Interestingly Coughlin was long known as a very difficult coach to play for similar to Mangino. In recent years Coughlin has softened his stance, players respect him and he's clearly been very successful.
Coughlin however moved on to Boston College where he would eventually end up again for a second time in 1990 and at this time would call on his former player in Randy Edsall to join his staff. From there the careers of both men would follow the same path for the next several years as Coughlin and Edsall would spend time with the Jacksonville Jaguars organization together following their stint with Boston College.
In 1999 however, Edsall recieved his first break as a head man when Lew Perkins elected to make him the head coach of the UConn Huskies as they entered the division one ranks. In the first four years as a 1A dependent Connecticut struggled to gain any footing but in 2003 Edsall and the Huskies finished with a 9-3 record and would join the Big East conference the following year.
In his six seasons as part of the Big East, Edsall has led Connecticut to four bowl games, one conference title and a 41-32 overall record. Does it jump off the page at you? Not really, but when you consider this is a 1A team that came from virtually no where it makes things a little more impressive. What he's been able to do at Connecticut with little in the way of resources is impressive and if you have had a chance to follow the saga at Connecticut this season it's clear his players love him and it's a very close group.
Does Edsall have enough experience and past success to deserve the job? Do his apparent lack of Big 12 and recruiting ties raise enough concern to eliminate him? Edsall to me is an interesting candidate because he does seem like a coach who can be very successful given the right resources. However, it's tough as a fan to look at him and be overly excited about what Kansas would be bringing in.
Lew knows him, knows his work ethic and energy, so if this is the guy he chooses I'd have to believe he's seen something that most of us have not. However, he has to be VERY certain on this one because it won't have fans screaming to buy their Gridiron Club seats for the next 30 years. If anything Edsall would be a far cry from Mangino, give Kansas an opportunity to retain some of it's staff and possibly provide a longterm face for a program.
He'll have to earn back the fans from the get go, but if there is one thing he's done at Connecticut it's overachieve. His teams, his players and the program have outperformed the expectations of most and that isn't a bad quality to have if you are going to coach for the Kansas Jayhawks. Come in with a chip on your shoulder, an unmatched work ethic and play as a team. Might that be the recipe for the continued building of a program?