From lame duck to gone in 24 hours
Randy Edsall’s retirement came earlier than planned
Good morning, all. I hope you had a wonderful extended weekend.
It was not a wonderful weekend for the University of Connecticut football program. Once up-and-coming, UConn football has fallen on hard times. After opting out of playing last season, because of Covid-19, the Huskies were looking to bounce back in 2021. That meant not only winning games they were supposed to, but also drawing more people to their games in East Hartford. UConn lost their opener 10 days ago at Fresno St., 45-0. Adding insult to injury, they lost their home opener this past Saturday to an FCS school, Holy Cross. The Crusaders dominated on both sides of the ball to win 38-28.
In short order, here is what happened. On Saturday, UConn suffered an embarrassing loss at home. On Sunday, in his second go-around as head coach after his first tenure at the school led to the building of a respectable FBS program, head coach Randy Edsall announced he would retire at the end of the season. When he made that announcement, I was among the many who thought maybe he was staying around to collect his $1.256 million salary, otherwise how could a program sustain itself with a lame duck coach and 10 games left in the season? On Monday, UConn announced that the school and Edsall decided to part company now, for the betterment of the student-athletes. Read that to mean, how in the hell can we attract recruits with a lame duck coach?
So Saturday, an ugly defeat. Sunday the head coach announces his retirement effective at season's end. Monday the head coach's retirement is moved up to immediately. I hate to see what Tuesday will bring.
Actually, Tuesday will bring interim head coach Lou Spanos to the forefront as he meets with the media. Spanos, inherits the position after serving as defensive coordinator for the school. Edsall, who was 6-32 in his second tour of duty with the team, gets to collect his entire $1.256 million. Spanos, who has an impressive resume, including a stint as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, will get a bump in his annual $335,000 salary.
Who knows? Maybe Spanos can turn around the 2021 season and get the interim removed from his title. The school says it will mount a nationwide search for a new head coach, but with qualified candidates already coaching, a permanent replacement probably will not be named until after the season. That gives Spanos an edge.
Regardless. For those rooting for the UConn program to succeed, they should be rooting for Spanos. An 0-12 or 1-11 season, might bring more than a new head coach. It could lead to serious scrutiny of UConn as a football school without a league. It might even lead to the abandonment of the FBS dream and a retrofit as an FCS school. In many ways, Spanos has nothing to lose, nothing except the future of the school's entire football program.
Tampa Bay is for real
Yes, the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays are for real. As I divorced myself from the rest of the sports world for a few hours on Monday afternoon to spend time with family, Edsall was still UConn's football coach and the Red Sox were leading the Rays, 7-1. And when I write "divorce," I mean for a few hours no checking on my phone for score updates, notifications, nothing. It meant engaging in conversation with family. Imagine my shock, when we returned home to witness the YES network replaying Derek Jeter's 1996 Opening Day game at Cleveland - how great was it to hear Phil Rizzuto call Jeter's first big league home run - and learn on the scroll on the bottom of the screen Edsall was gone and the Rays rallied to beat the Red Sox, 11-10.
The Rays first place lead in the AL East over the second place Yankees is now 8.5 games. The third place Red Sox have gone from being five up in the loss column on Tampa Bay to 10 games down. They are a lock to win the east. The Yanks, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners and Athletics are all battling for the two wild card positions and it is safe to say neither New York nor Boston is a lock to make that one-and-done game.
Let's just add, much to the dismay of FOX, if the Rays meet the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series, I would not be surprised.
How cool is this?
I leave you with this picture courtesy of the Twitter account of the Baseball History Nut. I don't know where this account snags these photos, but here is one of Lou Gehrig signing autographs at Fenway Park. What would you give to have one of his signatures?
That is it for this week. Thank you for your support and have a terrific rest of the week.