UConn AD Benedict was rewarded for appreciating Jim Mora’s experience

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MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — UConn’s athletic director David Benedict’s hiring of Jim Mora as his football coach last November was a high-profile development and was celebrated in most college football circles.

But not all at first.

Benedict said after the Huskies’ latest practice at Myrtle Beach High School on Saturday, “Dave, I don’t know how this is going to turn out.” He’s been fired.What are you doing?’But how can a young man without that experience and depth of knowledge succeed in trying to meet all the challenges that come with an unsuccessful programme? I don’t know.”

Benedict added, “That’s one of the reasons I hired Randy.”

Benedict brought Randy Edsol, who was fired at Maryland in 2015, back to UConn after the 2016 season through a similar thought process. This is in consideration of the kind of experience required to pull a program off the rocks under Bob Diaco.

In the end, the move didn’t work. The situation was only getting worse. Edsall retired last season with two losses, and over three his seasons he has 6 wins and 32 losses. The Huskies are 1-11 in his 2021, with Ruth Panos taking over as interim coach, and over the last four seasons he’s 7-41.

Mora has been away from coaching and living in Idaho since being fired at UCLA in 2017. However, as a college coach with many years of NFL coaching experience, he has experience in many places and has done many things that Benedict appreciates.

UConn (6-6) made a big leap forward as a program in Mora’s first year against Marshall in the Myrtle Beach Bowl on Monday afternoon. With the win, the Huskies will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2010, when Ed Saul’s first stint lost to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Benedict’s decision certainly worked.

“That’s not to say there weren’t a lot of great young coaches we could have hired,” Benedict said. “I think we were in a position to need someone with the skill set and experience Jim had to give him a shot at doing this.”

In an article posted by The Athletic on Thursday, Mora touched on what, as he understands, some players went through before his arrival.

“This is the first team to cancel football because of COVID and the head coach has gone eight months away to Florida,” Mora said of Edsall, according to The Athletic. “These kids told me they hadn’t seen him in eight months.

UConn held Spring Practice in February 2020. The campus, like most of the world, was closed in March of that year when COVID-19 arrived, and remained virtually empty for several months. Members of the football program (coaches and players) were rarely on campus until the team reconvened in August, prior to his preseason camp, which never took place.


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