Randy Edsall pauses while apologizing for the way he left the U-Conn. football program. (Jessica Hill/AP)
Columnist

Men, I know only one way to do things on my football team, and that’s the Randy Edsall way. That’s why I, Randy Edsall, can look myself in the mirror and see Randy Edsall.

Randy Edsall demands that his players become the man he has never been. You can count on that. I am all about saying the right things. That’s why when I open my mouth, what you hear is the sound of Randy Edsall. So when I tell a recruit he has a scholarship, he should know exactly what he’s getting: Randy Edsall. If I make a promise, the one thing you can be sure of is that you’re getting my word — and that’s why my words add up to so much more than my deeds.

Over the course of my long and distinctively insincere career, which includes a 96-103 record as a head coach and an appearance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, I haven’t changed my values. You can tell that by the fact that I’ve arrived back at Connecticut in exactly the same way I left it: with a strong statement about trust.

Back in 2010 after a bowl game loss, I insisted one of our players stand up in the locker room and tell his teammates to their faces that he was breaking his commitment to U-Conn. and leaving early for the NFL. Right after that, I broke my commitment to U-Conn. and left for Maryland, and proved how much I mean what I say by giving my players the news by cellphone and text message, instead of in person.

When U-Conn. rehired me in December, I said, “I just hope I will be able to earn the trust back from you wonderful fans, because what I’m doing now is I apologize for how I left. It was wrong. I take full ownership and accountability of that.”

You can tell how much Randy Edsall believes in trust and accountability by the fact that I used the cellphone again just this week, when I reneged on a scholarship offer to a 17-year-old.

See, Randy Edsall lives up to the letter of my agreements; luckily, I got to this agreement before any letters were signed. Seven months ago, high school linebacker Ryan Dickens agreed to play for U-Conn. He said he wore U-Conn. shirts to school every day and rejected overtures from other schools, even after the coach who recruited him, Bob Diaco, was fired. When I was hired I called the kid and told him the scholarship stood, and according to his parents, said, “You have my word.”

But a verbal offer is non-binding under NCAA rules, which enable coaches like me, Randy Edsall, to be nothing if not a shaper of idealistic boys into hardened grown men. And, men, Randy Edsall is all about the real meaning of commitment. So with just two weeks left in the recruiting process, Dickens’s cellphone rang, and on the other end was the voice of me, Randy Edsall, saying the following, in all sincerity:

“We just decided we’re going to go in another direction. We don’t have a spot for you.”

Let me say this about commitment: No one is more committed to Randy Edsall than Randy Edsall.

You can find a lot of people to vouch for that, including East Carolina defensive tackle Demetri McGill. After the news broke that Dickens’s scholarship offer had been reneged on, McGill reminded everyone that he had a similar experience with me in 2013, when I rescinded a verbal offer from Maryland just three weeks before the national signing date after he came down with a sore knee. Because as I have always said, at every stop of my career, “The one thing we’re going to do is do it right, and get the right people in here.”

Here is another statement I like to make about myself: “I’m not about winning at all costs. I’m about doing it the right way.” But maybe it would be more accurate to say, “I’m not about winning at all, in any way.”

The truth is, I’ve never really won much — but I have won when it comes to talking about winning. In a decade at U-Conn. from 1999-2010, my record was 74-70, with eight seasons of at least five losses and a couple of nine-win highlights. In five years at Maryland I went 22-34, the high point of which was a pair of blockbuster 7-6 efforts, and I’m proud to say we never beat a Football Bowl Subdivision team with a record better than 8-5. That should be proof that I am a man of words, not actions.

In fact, if there is a hallmark of my career, it’s my ability to make sweeping statements of excessive self-regard and praise that far outstrip my actual accomplishments and virtues. As I like to say, “The only thing I can tell you is that everything I have ever done I have been successful at.”

To which I can add, no one has ever been more successful at being Randy Edsall than me, Randy Edsall. And if you didn’t know who Randy Edsall was before, you sure do now.