Randy Edsall left Connecticut after leading the Huskies to their first-ever BCS bowl game because he was offered his “dream job” at Maryland. But Edsall’s first year in College Park has been a nightmare.
The Terps are 2-10 and had just one ACC win – over Miami (FL) in the season opener. They closed the season with eight straight losses – a horrid campaign distracted only by their wacky uniforms.
Should Edsall lose his job after one year? We debate both sides, starting with …
For: I don’t want to turn this into a public lynching by demanding Maryland AD Kevin Anderson fire Randy Edsall like the Washington Post’s John Feinstein has done.
And I think Edsall is a good coach. You don’t turn a former FCS program into a Fiesta bowl team without being one.
But let me put it this way, if I were Anderson, there’s no way I would give Edsall a second season.
The Edsall Experiment was a disaster from the beginning when Anderson shoved Ralph Friedgen, last season’s ACC Coach of the Year and a Maryland alum, out the door for a coach no more accomplished than The Fridge.
Yes, everyone was drinking the Kool-Aid when the Terps defeated Miami (FL) on Labor Day in their hideous new unis, but if there was an award for Worst Coach of the Year, Edsall would win it.
He took a team that finished last season 9-4 and had plenty of talent coming back in preseason ACC Player of the Year QB Danny O’Brien and future NFL players in DT Joe Vellano and LB Kenny Tate and essentially ran them into the ground.
There was a 31-point home loss to Temple, blowing an 18-point lead to Clemson, a loss to lowly Boston College and giving up 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter last week to fall to NC State in a fitting conclusion to the season.
Instead of taking blame for the debacle, Edsall has consistently blamed the previous regime for the poor results and said he needs time to rebuild the program. That’s odd, the program was in much better shape before Edsall arrived.
Now Anderson finds himself in a horrible position: No one is showing up to games, the boosters are upset and Edsall’s seemingly lost his players. The most damning of those may be the boosters because when they’re upset, they start cutting off the financial pipeline, and that’s especially bad news for the cash-strapped Maryland athletic department. As Feinstein pointed out, losing big donations could be more costly than eating the remaining $10M on Edsall’s contract. While you don’t want to let boosters hi-jack your athletic department, Edsall’s albatross contract shouldn’t be what keeps him employed.
And there’s plenty of great candidates out there with few jobs as good as Maryland’s on the market. If the Terps fired Edsall, they could land Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn or possibly even Vanderbilt head man James Franklin, who looks like a rising star in the profession and was originally supposed to replace Friedgen.
There’s no reason Maryland can’t attract a top name to College Park. Maryland is a party school located next to a great city in Washington, D.C.; it’s also on fertile recruiting ground and has great backing from ex-Terrapin football player and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. And Nike founder and Oregon super booster Phil Knight is the poster boy for what a big bucks booster can do for a football program.
At this point, it would take a miracle for Edsall to turn things around and get a third year on the job. It would be silly for Maryland to suffer through another year of miserable football when they might not be in nearly as good a position to land a great coach next offseason.
Yes, it wouldn’t be fair to Edsall to only receive one year at his “dream job.” But whoever said anything about college football being fair? – Jim Weber
Against: Kicking out Friedgen after a nine-win season is all the more reason to give Edsall more than one year.
If I were a Maryland donor, the cash pipeline would dry up as soon as I felt that the athletic department has little idea what it’s doing. Firing Friedgen’s replacement in Edsall – who many disagreed should be hired in the first place – after just one season reeks of desperation.
Yes, Edsall had a deplorable season on the field and off it. He lost games, some in embarrassing fashion, and seemed better at passing the blame than helping the promising O’Brien pass the ball.
But I disagree with Feinstein – eating the $10 million on Edsall’s contract would be a disastrous decision by the Terps, who are strapped for cash and may be close to eliminating some varsity sports.
It’s possible that donors could stop giving money to Maryland athletics if they continue poor play under Edsall, but I’d take a chance that they would give Edsall more than just one bad season before they start tightening the purse strings. Plus, it’s a bad idea to bow down to the donors’ every suggestion.
If you fire Edsall, you definitely won’t get that money back.
And all those big coaches who are on the market? They are going to cost a pretty penny, too. Malzahn isn’t leaving his cushy gig for small potatoes (he reportedly turned down a $3M offer from Vanderbilt last year), and Franklin reportedly has a lucrative offer from Vanderbilt on its way.
Are the Terps in a position to pay Edsall and enter a bidding war for the top coaches on the market? Not a chance.
And who in their right mind would want to take a job at a school where they shoved out the ACC Coach of the Year last season and then dumped his successor one year later?
That’s not even to mention Edsall’s worth on the sideline. He proved at Connecticut that, with some patience, he will reward a school that places some faith in him.
I am not asking Maryland to show the type of loyalty Edsall received at UConn, where he didn’t post a winning season until his fifth campaign. I know Maryland is in a different position now than UConn was at the turn of the millennium as it made its way into FBS football.
But Edsall was an acquired taste in Storrs, mostly because it took him a while to acquire meaningful wins.
As Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs points out here, Edsall is a coach with a militant style and strict rules. It’s not easy to convince another coach’s roster to adapt to those rules, especially when things aren’t going as they want on the field.
Give Edsall a fighting chance to get through to those guys.
Or at least give him a second year. – Anthony Olivieri