Outside of Joe Paterno and Frank Beamer, no current head coach in the country has invested as much time to take a program as far as Randy Edsall has taken Connecticut over the last decade. When Edsall was hired in 1998, UConn was a nondescript member of the Division I-AA Atlantic 10; two years later, he oversaw the Huskies' transition I-A independence, then on to the Big East in 2004. That 13-year trajectory peaked Saturday night in an improbable Fiesta Bowl clash with Oklahoma, on the heels of UConn's first Big East championship.
With that, Edsall may be on the verge of declaring "Mission Accomplished" in Storrs, according to ESPN's Joe Schad, who reports today that Edsall is all but in as Ralph Friedgen's successor at Maryland:
Edsall, whose team lost to Oklahoma in Saturday night's Tostistos Fiesta Bowl, did not return Sunday to Connecticut on the UConn charter flight.
Instead, said ESPN.com sources, he and his family were to fly from Phoenix to Maryland to meet with Terrapin school officials.
Meanwhile, an ESPN.com source also said there is a possibility of a 6 p.m. team meeting at Maryland.
A cable station in Washington is reporting the same thing, and there was not much rejoicing among the Terrapin faithful – many of whom weren't ecstatic with the way Friedgen was pushed out by first-year athletic director Kevin Anderson in the first place. Anderson could justify the Fridge's icy exit with a splashy, big-name hire, or at least a markedly different direction from the prevailing conservatism, and high-flying frontrunner Mike Leach fit both bills. Edsall is a more telegenic version of the status quo: A discipline-oriented, run-first, defense-and-field position type under whom the steady march of progress can seem glacial. If the school was willing to settle for a "conservative, safe, non-confrontational hire," why did it ditch Friedgen in the first place?
There is a glimmer of hope for the disenchanted: Edsall told Schad via text message that his departure for College Park isn't a "done deal," and the Washington Post reports that Edsall is scheduled to go through the same interview process that Leach endured on Thursday, per a source who told the Post "Leach remains a candidate along with Edsall." One of the two will be officially named as the new boss on Monday.
[Update, 7:57 p.m. ET] The university makes it official: Edsall is Maryland's man.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.