Maybe the worst thing Randy Edsall made me, editor emeritus of SB Nation's Maryland blog, do was defend him. For four very, very, very long years, until shortly before he was fired on Sunday after a 49-21 loss to Ohio State.
Edsall inherited a bad situation from Ralph Friedgen (who, yes, won nine games in his final year) and struggled through a 2-10 debut season, turning many loyal Friedgen fans off of him for good.
But the next three seasons showed improvement, and with a revitalized local recruiting movement and an increased financial commitment from Under Armour, it wasn't hard to find long-term optimism despite back-to-back seven-win seasons.
Some Maryland fans say the program has peaked under Randy Edsall. The numbers disagree: http://t.co/b3mcFPyOFm pic.twitter.com/J7zlXVTkTf— #brand-y dreadsall (@Pete_Volk) December 2, 2014
When Maryland extended Edsall in the offseason, fans took to the Internet to decry the move. Not me!
Maryland's Randy Edsall extension is a good idea, no matter what you think of Randy Edsall http://t.co/lk6HKL5axs pic.twitter.com/PLZ1XNrwJG— #brand-y dreadsall (@Pete_Volk) July 1, 2015
Maryland Twitter and I had a ... contentious relationship over the topic.
Took until the fourth quarter for our first "Fire Edsall" of the day. RT @RealMarkieMark: I'd take simply firing Edsall for now— #brand-y dreadsall (@Pete_Volk) November 16, 2014
@Pete_Volk Many of us not happy w/Edsall.Sorry to hurt ur feelings Been a Terp '67. U want to be an apologist for the guy fine. Not me.— Philip A. Guzman (@pag2010) May 23, 2015
The main thing going in Edsall's favor was the 2016 recruiting class, with four of the top 15 players in the state and Dwayne Haskins, one of the best quarterback prospects in the country. Recruiting classes don't often survive coaching transitions, and as long as the team was improving, why break up what could be a very good thing?
After Maryland successfully flipped four-star defensive tackle Adam McLean from Penn State and former Maryland head-coach-in-waiting James Franklin, I made this my Twitter avatar.
And Edsall could be fun, in his own way. There was the silly picture of him on a bike, the video of him doing the Dougie, the goofy way he celebrates, the BTN spot. Maryland was graduating nearly all of its players, too.
Things were bad, but not that bad, right?
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That all changed this season, as Maryland sat at 2-3 before reports of his imminent firing, blown out by every decent team on the schedule (including 73-6 over the last two games) and on a collision course with 3-9. Maryland had been blown out by good teams before, but this was different. This was Year 5 under Edsall. The team is entirely stocked with his guys now. And one of those decent teams was MAC team Bowling Green.
Here's a grand list of the FBS teams Edsall managed to beat in his time with the Terps.
|Team||Team's season record|
|2012 Wake Forest||5-7|
|2013 West Virginia||4-8|
|2013 Virginia Tech||8-5|
|2013 NC State||3-9|
|2014 Penn State||7-6|
|2015 USF||Not good, probably|
|Total winning percentage||.361|
As in any doomed relationship, there were signs.
When Edsall first took over, he decided to clean house and "change the culture."
That included banning baseball caps and earrings in the team house and earphones in the weight room. It included bringing in former NFL player Troy Vincent to scare players out of getting tattoos or wearing dreads. As Edsall put it, NFL people "don't like to see the people with the dreads."
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Twenty-five players transferred, leaving Maryland without a chance at fielding a competitive team in the short-term and crippling its chances over the next few years.
When asked if he had any regrets after that disastrous year, Edsall, prone to deflecting press conference questions with coach speak, said, "Maybe one regret that I have is being too honest." This is because he's the person at the job interview who says his biggest weakness is being just too much of a perfectionist.
That wasn't the only public speaking blunder. He was often criticized for a lack of humility, especially after poor results. After losing at home 20-3 to a thoroughly mediocre Syracuse team in 2013, he shifted all of the blame to his players.
During his press conference, Edsall blamed not having 'guys make the plays when they needed to make plays.'
'Execute your assignment, run the proper route, tackle, don't wrap guys up, don't try to body-block somebody, those sort of things,' he said. 'That's the biggest thing. It's very simple. You have one job to do. You have a technique that you have to do. All you have to do is go out and do that to the best of your ability at each play.'
Then there were the coordinator hires, deeply incompetent in their own special ways. Edsall's UConn teams were solid, but not known for schematic strengths, so it was clear he'd need to hire good assistants.
So Edsall hired offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, on his way out after a failed stint at LSU, and defensive coordinator Todd Bradford, who had mediocre defenses at Southern Miss. Both failed miserably, were fired after one season and now neither works in football, as far as I can tell.
Edsall's next offensive coordinator was Mike Locksley, the local recruiting guru best known for his disastrous tenure as New Mexico's head coach. Locksley also has a history of being a bad coordinator. And 2015 might be his worst effort yet, as the team is left without a capable quarterback (despite Locksley being the quarterbacks coach and Edsall being a former college quarterback).
Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart did an alright job installing a 3-4 defense, until the move to the Big Ten exposed the scheme's inability to stop power running. He left for a position coach with Nebraska, and Maryland promoted inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski rather than hire from the outside. The Terrapins have given up 37.7 points per game this year under Dudzinski.
Edsall topped it all off with baffling in-game decisions, showing a relentless affinity for punting and even costing the Terps a win by mismanaging his timeouts.
Edsall took over a Maryland program needing a significant rebuild. Now he passes it on to the next head coach in pretty much the same place.
I am 24 years old. I have gray hair. I blame Randy Edsall.
October 6, 2015
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