EAST HARTFORD — More than two years after coach Randy Edsall abruptly left the UConn football team for Maryland, Husky fans still think the way the coach bolted after their 2011 Fiesta Bowl loss was classless.
"You have to appreciate what he did for the program, you can't argue with that," said Mike Balmer, a season ticketholder from Cromwell. "The circumstances that he left [under] were very poor. If you're in the spotlight, unfortunately, you're remembered for the stupidest thing you did."
Following the Huskies' Fiesta Bowl loss, Edsall boarded a separate flight to Maryland and accepted the head coaching position there without notifying his players in person. That took place hours after Edsall had Jordan Todman, a junior running back, stand up and tell the team in the locker room that he was declaring for the NFL draft.
Balmer's wife, Carol, Jim Desrosiers of Ellington and others also go back and forth about how they feel toward Edsall.
"Edsall was a class act," Carol Balmer said. "The way he dealt with people, handled the Jasper Howard [murder], which was totally horrible, he was such a leader. I think about all that, and he's a great guy. The way he left, obviously, not well."
Desrosiers said although Edsall got UConn to five bowl games and a share of two Big East championships, he should be booed at Rentschler Field.
"I've hated him since he left but I'm so sick of Pasqualoni," said Brendan Mazzochi, a UConn football and basketball fan from Bristol. "Here's the thing, Edsall built the UConn football program. They weren't D-1 when he came. He built the program. Especially when the [Howard murder] happened, I think he handled that as best he could. … The Notre Dame win, I'll never forget that. That was one of the best moments a UConn football fan could have. I just wish things ended differently."
Pasqualoni has gone 5-7 in consecutive seasons and the Huskies opened their 2013 season with a home loss to FCS-level Towson. Edsall, however, hasn't fared better in his first two years at the helm of Maryland. His Terrapins went 2-10 in 2011. Last season, in part due to a bevy of injuries, most notably at quarterback, Maryland limped, at times literally, to a 4-8 campaign.
Mark Ritter, a Richmond, Va., native and Maryland alum, gave Edsall a mixed review.
"The things that I like is he's brought a lot of discipline to the program, but the frustrating thing has been their record the last two years," he said. "He ran off several good players after he first arrived. I think everyone's big concern is they need to get their act together before they go to the Big 10 next year."
Ritter, who has had Maryland season tickets since 2001, said Edsall's reputation upon arrival wasn't very becoming.
"I know there was a player from UConn [Todman] who left to go pro and Edsall made him stand up and tell everybody he was leaving, but Edsall sent a text message," Ritter said. "He didn't do the stand-up thing when he left to go to Maryland. So it's like a two-edged sword. He's trying to enforce discipline and at the same time he's done some questionable things, too."
After a 2-0 start, things are looking up for Edsall. Ritter is optimistic, as is Andrew Shinner, a Massachusetts native and Maryland alum.
"I thought it was a great choice for Maryland," he said. "I had been observing the UConn program, being from New England, and I was happy with the selection. "
Shinner is pleased with the Terrapins' progress in Edsall's third season.
"I think he needed to bring in his guys, his recruits," he said. "We saw what he did at UConn, building the program from FCS to FBS and creating the program."