What’s on Tap?
It’s Time to Pull the Plug on UConn Football
Column By Sam Tapper – Sport writer
If you’re a football fan in Connecticut, chances are you were having a super bowl-like party on January 1, 2011. As time moves on, the events of that day seem like ancient history – almost an alternate reality.
“And here comes Connecticut,” said ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough as the Connecticut Huskies football team took the field at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, led by wide receiver Kashiff Moore pounding the number six on his chest in which he wore to honor his slain teammate and roommate, Jasper Howard.
It was the biggest game in the program’s history, which has been playing collegiate football since 1896 and at the Division I level since 1999. The thrashing of the Huskies in that game by their opponent, seventh-ranked Oklahoma, would only serve as foreshadowing for what’s to come. Fast forward to present day and it is finally time to face reality: it’s time to cut the football program up in Storrs.
Since the Huskies’ magical run in the 2010 season which saw them win the Big East championship, they have not had a winning season, rather they have never won more than six games since then.
The Huskies’ seemed ticketed for the national spotlight, however issues of conference alignment and the sudden bolt of their head coach Randy Edsall, who is now back on the job, practically pulled UConn’s success right out from beneath it before it even knew what was happening.
In Edsall’s current stint, the Huskies are about as bad as they have ever been. In 2018, they went 1-11, with the lone win coming in a 56-49 game against URI that will not be hitting ESPN Classics anytime soon. To note, URI is an FCS team that UConn gave up 49 points to.
If you thought that was bad, it gets worse. UConn’s defense last season was bad – historically bad. They ranked dead last in the entire country in defense, giving up an average of 50.41 points per game. I’m no football genius, but that is not good.
This year, we are now seeing before our very eyes that this program – at least as a Division I football school – is all but dead. The Huskies are currently 2-7, again with their wins coming against an FCS opponent, Wagner, and UMass, a team only slightly worse than the Huskies. They haven’t given up any less than 21 points this year and have lost by as many as 46.
They are now 6-27 in Edsall’s second tenure and have shown absolutely no sign of improvement, with Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant describing watching this team as “torture.”
The athletic department at UConn needs money and powering a 35,000-seat stadium just to host a crowd of 5,000, if you are lucky, doesn’t figure to make much profit. It also doesn’t help when the head coach walks away with thousands of extra dollars after a 50-point loss, like he did to close out the 2018 season against Temple.
Edsall’s contract is filled with incentives, not unlike other college coaches. But other college coaches have performance-based incentives based on what bowl game they make, conference titles and how many games they win.
However, in Edsall’s contract, just to name a few incentives, he gets $2,000 apiece just for scoring first and having a better red zone and third down efficiency rating than the opponent. To me, these do not seem like an efficient way to be spending money, then again, I’m no expert in finance.
Obviously, there is a lot to review before making any decisions, but to recap for the UConn athletic department: you hardly have a fanbase supporting you anymore, you are incapable of beating a single opponent at your level of play and to top it all off, your 61-year-old coach keeps counting his unique paycheck as he inches closer to retirement.
With all that being said, please, UConn, stop trying to save what is already dead. It was fun while it lasted but let UConn football be a thing of the past.