EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Randy Edsall, the most successful coach in Connecticut football history, is returning to try to right the Huskies’ ship for the second time.
Edsall, who coached UConn for 12 seasons in his previous stint but departed for Maryland after the 2010 season without first telling his players, was introduced as the Huskies’ coach Friday morning. He agreed to a five-year contract with an annual base salary of $400,000 and additional compensation that would bring his pay to more than $1 million a year.
“It didn’t take long once they asked me to be the coach to say yes,” Edsall, 58, said.
Edsall arrived with an apology for how he had left the job the first time. After leading UConn to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, the high-water mark in the program’s history, he did not speak to his players or fly back with the team after its loss to Oklahoma. Instead, he flew to Maryland, where he was introduced as the Terrapins’ coach.
Maryland fired Edsall after a 2-4 start in 2015, and he has spent the past year working for the Detroit Lions as their director of football research and special projects. In four-plus seasons at Maryland, Edsall went 22-34 and earned two bowl bids.
“Almost six years ago, I made one of the worst decisions in terms of how I left the University of Connecticut,” Edsall said Friday. “That is something I have to live with, and I’ve lived with. I’m not perfect. Everybody makes a mistake. I regret it.
“It’s something that has weighed heavily on me over the years, and I just hope that I will be able to earn the trust back from all the wonderful fans.”
After the Huskies finished this season at 3-9 over all and 1-7 in the American Athletic Conference, UConn Athletic Director David Benedict decided to fire Coach Bob Diaco on Monday. He found a replacement by dipping into the program’s successful past. Edsall is the career leader in wins at UConn, having gone 74-70, with five bowl appearances, in 12 seasons.
“The one thing about Coach Edsall is he’s a known commodity to UConn,” said Benedict, who was hired at the end of February. “He’s someone I reached out to when I first got here because I wanted to talk to the guy who had so much success here with football.”
Upon taking over the Huskies’ program in 1999, Edsall helped complete its transition from a Division I-AA team playing in the Atlantic-10 Conference to an independent and then to a member of the Big East Conference.
In a wave of realignment, the Huskies moved into the A.A.C. in 2013 along with the other Big East football programs that did not move to bigger conferences.
Since Edsall’s departure, UConn has posted six consecutive losing seasons, going 24-49.
Under Diaco, the Huskies were 11-26 in three seasons.
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