Projected 2017 record and S&P+ ranking: 3-9 (125th)
Biggest strength: Defensive end Luke Carrezola, linebacker Vontae Diggs, and company give new coordinator Billy Crocker some exciting attackers.
Biggest question mark: How much can a truly horrendous offense improve in one year, even with experience and an exciting coordinator hire? Because UConn’s offense was truly horrendous.
Biggest 2017 game: USF comes to East Hartford in Week 2. That’s UConn’s first and maybe best chance to make a statement. (It’s also one of 10 games in which the Huskies have a 25 percent or worse chance of winning. This is a massive Year Zero situation.)
Summary: After playing listless football in his absence, UConn brought Edsall back to resurrect a program he once had playing at a top-50 level. Old dogs, new tricks, etc., but Edsall made some exciting hires and could have this team playing interesting ball … by 2018.
The argument has been made that UConn, which has an annual athletic budget of about $80 million, should drop football to the FCS level and focus on an attempt for its other programs to rejoin the Big East.
That lessens expenditures but hurts on the revenue side. Most Big East teams, without the benefit of big-time football, received between $2.3 million to close to $3 million from the league in 2015. Benedict also brings up another revenue issue.
“The misnomer with that thought process is that a lot of the money that we derive from multimedia rights — if you look at our ticket sales for football, even though they’re not great right now, if you look at the multimedia rights deal, you’d lose the majority of those dollars if we said we’re going to drop down to FCS in football,” Benedict said. “I think most of those people are saying that because of the financial piece, but it’s counter-intuitive because we’re going to get over $9 million from our multimedia rights deal next year. … They’re not going to pay us like that if we don’t have football.”
“I’m not so much worried about the talent level,” Edsall said Friday during the team’s media day even on campus. “I’m more worried about [players] taking ownership. I know we can be a good team, because I know as coaches we’re going to hold them accountable. But if we’re going to be a great team, they have to hold themselves accountable. … There’s enough talent here to win. But are we going to do these other things where we’re not going to be individuals, we’re going to be unselfish, we’re going to hold each other accountable? If we do that, we’ll win. If we don’t do that, I don’t care how much talent we have, we won’t.”
Shirreffs, a senior who started much of the past two seasons, came off the bench to replace a struggling David Pindell late in the third quarter against Holy Cross and led the Huskies to three touchdowns and a comeback victory. He’ll make the 21st start of his UConn career.
“Just what I saw in the game, and what I’ve seen,” Edsall said of his decision. “Bryant went in and did a great job because he executed his role. He did what he was asked him to do.”