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UConn's Randy Edsall: 'If things don't measure up, then fire me'

Storrs — An emotionally-charged Randy Edsall took responsibility for the state of his UConn football program and defended his assistant coaches during an unscheduled visit with the media on Wednesday morning.

Edsall walked into the Burton Family Football Complex lobby and delivered a strong, passionate statement that lasted roughly two minutes.

"I'm the head coach," Edsall said. "I'm the guy responsible. If things aren't going the right way, then fire my ass. It's as simple as that. I'm the leader. And that's just the way I feel. Our coaches, our players are doing everything that they can do. I'm making the decisions that I think are best for this program. If things don't measure up, then fire me."

In his second year since returning for the second stint in Storrs, Edsall has watched his Huskies (1-3) struggle mightily due to youth and inexperience They've been overmatched against FBS competition, especially on defense, which ranks last in the nation in points allowed (54.5) and total defense (664 yards per game).

Fan support is dwindling and criticism is rising.

Edsall's unexpected rant happened on a day for media availability for the coaching staff coordinators. It was triggered by criticism that Edsall received from abruptly ending his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

A question about Wake Forest firing its defensive coordinator prompted Edsall's reaction.

"What does that have to do with us?" Edsall said. "I'm done. I can see where this is going. I'm done."

Edsall circled back to the subject on Wednesday.

"After yesterday's press conference, I just had some thoughts just in terms of what I think," Edsall said. "I don't know anybody else's situation. But it's just very evident to me college athletics isn't what it used to be. We're more like the NFL now when you want to let people go in the middle of the season.

"It's just disappointing to see where college athletics is heading. It's just a big business. It's not about the student-athlete as much anymore as what it used to be."

Edsall was just getting warmed up.

He says he'll continue to do things that he believes in and do it his way. He expressed faith in his assistant coaches.

"If you want to write stuff, if you want to question stuff, question me," Edsall said.  "Don't question my players, don't question my coaches, because I'm the guy in charge. ... And it starts from the top down and it's all with me. I've got no issues with any of my players, my coaches, or anybody.

"And, you know what? I don't have any issues with how we're doing things here. People don't like it, tough (expletive). It's as simple as that."

After driving home his final point, Edsall walked away.

Then offensive coordinator John Dunn, defensive coordinator Billy Crocker and special teams coordinator Eddie Allen took their turn with the media.

Crocker, a Waterford High School graduate, appreciated Edsall voicing his support. He's been in coaching long enough to understand that he'll catch his share of heat from fans for UConn's defensive issues.

"It is what it is, man," Crocker said. "Comes with the territory."

Crocker is pleased with the attitude and work ethic of his players. It's just going to take time for the young Huskies to develop.

At his previous job as defensive coordinator at Villanova, Crocker said it took about two and a half years to build a No. 1 ranked defense in the country.

Right now, it's a matter of weathering the storm.

"There's nothing else you can do, you know what I mean?" Crocker said. "You go to work every day the same way you went to work on day one. You focus on just getting better. It's not about me, it's about these kids and getting them better and seeing them grow as football players and, honestly, as young men."

It has potential to be another long day for the Huskies on Saturday when undefeated Cincinnati (4-0) visits Rentschler Field in East Hartford for an American Athletic Conference game (3:30 p.m., CBSSN).

The Huskies are trying to ignore the negative noises from the outside the program and focus on the process.

"I can't speak for everyone, or for the players," Dunn said. "For me, I come here. I go home. I hear about the kids' day. The nice part is, we're kind of in a bubble. So you can kind of control what you hear and don't hear sometimes, too.

"Obviously, social media and things like that, you read stuff. But the biggest thing, these guys in here inside these walls, they watch the film and know the truth. ... The results will come when the process is right. What we're working through is the process. How to prepare? How to train? Sometimes, the test comes first.

" ... Results are important and results will come. Right now, what we're focused on between these walls, at least I can speak for the offense, is the process for the results to come. Not the scoreboard."

g.keefe@theday.com

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