The Fiesta Bowl was supposed to be a positive experience for the UConn Huskies football team. Just ten short years after upgrading to Division I-A football, UConn was playing their first BCS bowl game out in Glendale, Arizona. But instead of joy, the days surrounding the Fiesta Bowl were more of a rollercoaster ride for the Huskies.
Before the game, the UConn Huskies were riding high. After a rocky start to their season, the UConn Huskies won their final games of the season, including a close win over University of Southern Florida, 19-16, to clinch the Big East, and an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game, and the biggest game in the young UConn Huskies football history.
During the first half of the game, the Huskies played strong, keeping close with the high-powered Oklahoma Sooners, matching almost score for score, going into halftime behind 10-20, but within reach. But after halftime, it all went downhill.
From the start of the second half, the high-octane Sooner offense came out of the gates strong, outscoring the UConn Huskies 28-10 after the half, leading to UConn losing in a blowout 48-20 on a national stage, and UConn’s biggest game in football history. And after the game, junior Jordan Todman, one of the top rushers in all of Division I-A football, announced to the team that he was for-going his senior season to enter the NFL Draft in April.
But the loss wasn’t the biggest dagger in the heart of Huskies fans. The next day, Randy Edsall, the heart and soul of the Huskies football team for over a decade, announced that he was leaving UConn to go coach at Maryland, an ACC school. Even after adamantly stating he wouldn’t leave, he left the dog house.
To add insult to injury, reports came out about Edsall leaving the team in a not-so professional fashion. Players said that Randy Edsall wasn’t on the UConn plane home from Arizona to Storrs, but instead, flew to Maryland. It was also reported that Edsall didn’t confront the players, but instead sent texts and left messages to players saying he was leaving.
So in a 48-hour period, UConn went from being on Cloud-9, to getting blown out to Oklahoma, and losing their coach that has been a staple of UConn football for years. With the recent hire of Paul Pasqualoni as their head coach, the UConn football program is looking to return to a BCS Bowl, and grow even more as a program.
But with how the season ended for the Huskies, the team’s success will depend on how mentally tough the players are, and get past the end of last season, and look into the future