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Posted at 8:53 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Terps hire Randy Edsall: An early look

By Rick Nelligan

Just when it looked like the pirate was set to dock his ship in the Inner Harbor, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson pulled a fast one and has tabbed Randy Edsall to succeed Ralph Friedgen as head football coach of the Terps.

This isn’t the flashy hire that most of Terrapin Nation had been hoping for, but I absolutely believe it was the right decision considering who the other candidates were reported to be. I’ll have more as time goes on, but let’s take an early look at Randy Edsall and what it could mean for football in College Park.

As I mentioned, Edsall isn’t the ostentatious hire most were hoping for. On top of most people’s, which reportedly included Under Armour CEO and prominent Maryland booster Kevin Plank, lists was former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. But his eccentric personality and the baggage he is carrying undoubtedly hurt him with Anderson and the search committee.

Per Darren Rovell of CNBC via Twitter, “Kevin Plank was not willing to put his rep on the line for any Leach fallout.” Based upon everything that happened at the end of Leach’s tenure at Texas Tech, you can’t blame Plank or Anderson for getting cold feet.

Even if Edsall’s name isn’t as flashy, his coaching credentials and the situation it puts the Terps football team in more than makes up for it.

Possibly the biggest thing that attracts me to this hire is, in large part, the football team and scheme isn’t going under a complete overhaul. With Leach, Malzahn, Rich Rodriguez, and most of the other rumored candidates, the Terps would have been switching from a pro-style offense to a spread offense.

Instead, Danny O’Brien and company are able to continue to build upon the offensive momentum they built up last season, capped off by a 51 point outburst in the Military Bowl. Heck, O’Brien might even get to lean on a running game this season, as Edsall has coached two of the top running backs in college football over the past few years in Donald Brown and Jordan Todman.

Most importantly, considering where Edsall has been coaching for the past twelve years, he has had as much success as anyone in the country. He took the reins of the Huskies’ sled just as they were moving from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A and has led them to multiple winning seasons, a Big East championship, and a BCS bowl appearance. In his last four seasons at UConn, the Huskies went 33-19 and 2-2 in bowl games. It doesn’t exactly remind you of Urban Meyer at Florida, but it’s extremely impressive in its own right.

Not only has Edsall helped his team to success on the field, but he has led his student-athletes to have success off it as well. The Huskies currently have ten players in the NFL, not including the nation’s second leading rusher Todman who just declared for the NFL Draft, that were all coached by Edsall. That, along with the fact he has ties to the NFL through coaching with the Jacksonville Jaguars for four seasons as well as having played for and coached under New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin for a number of years, should really give the Terps a boost in recruiting in the D.C. area.

As much as I love the hire, it does come with its fair share of question marks. Can Edsall solve the recruiting issues the Terps have had in the DMV area? Can he be the head guy at a school with higher expectations? Will his name and resume be enough to pack Byrd Stadium again? When he has success, will he call College Park his home or temporary residence? How will it be received by the aforementioned Kevin Plank?

While those are all legitimate questions, I believe they will all result in positive answers. Moving from a school that is exclusively about basketball to a program that seems intent on breaking into the college football world will do wonders for his reputation and his recruiting prowess. And while I don’t think that season tickets will sell out as fast as a Jonas Brothers Concert, the charisma and success he will bring to College Park will do that sooner than most think.

Now that the first domino has fallen, it will be interesting to see what follows. How will the team react?  Will anyone decide to transfer? Who will Edsall bring along as his assistants? Personally, my wish (and seemingly all of Terrapin Nation’s wish) is that he retains Don Brown and brings on Mike Locksley in some way, shape, or form to do what he does best – recruit. As I mentioned in my Terrapins coaching search post a week ago, hiring Locksley as anything but a head coach transforms the Terps from an ACC power to a national power.

And for what it’s worth, the players seem to be reacting positively to the hire. Danny O’Brien said last night on Twitter, “Welcome Coach Edsall into Terp Nation! Very impressed and ready to get my playbook. Let’s rock.” AJ Francis also chimed in, “He’s not here to win games, he’s here to win championships…”

Make no mistake Terrapin Nation, this is a fantastic hire by Kevin Anderson. I understand some of you will be upset about the Terps passing on Leach, but make sure to take the time to look at the guy we did hire, he will surprise you. Better days lie ahead in College Park. I can’t wait to see what happens next. It’s time to Fear the Turtle again!

By Rick Nelligan  | January 3, 2011; 8:53 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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Comments

Terrible hire

If you were not going to hire Leach or Malzahn then they should have extended Ralph. I hate being a sports fan in this area. Constant state of disappointment.

Posted by: remaxjon | January 3, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Who is this Rick Nelligan guy? I thought this was a blog "BY AND FOR THE FANS"??? If you want to see how the fans of U-MD feel about this decision, please look no further than this thread at the Terrapin Insider:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/terrapins-insider/2011/01/after_randy_edsall_news_who_wo.html#comments

Over 2,600 fans have voted and nearly 90% were opposed to hiring Edsall. Getting 90% of Terps fans to agree on anything does not happen often folks. There are over a 100 comments on that thread, with almost every one them expressing strong opposition to the move.

So please don't call this Box Seats blog "by the fans and for the fans" when its author Rick Nelligan is clearly way outside the mainstream of Maryland fans.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 3, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Time to remove those rose colored glasses Rick and sober up. This hire is a disaster. You don't fire Fridge for "business" reasons, then hire a second rate Fridge as his replacement. Anderson claimed that he wanted a hire that will create a "buzz." This hire is a buzz kill. They won't have more than 20,000 fans a game next year. Yeah, great hire.

Posted by: smitch6087 | January 3, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

This post by Nelligan is pathetic and naive. Who is this guy? Does the Maryland Athletic Department write this stuff for him? I didn't like his stupid 2-part post on the "candidates" and now, with this, I will not be checking out this blog again. See ya!

Posted by: petecard | January 3, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but you guys are missing the point. First off, I'm just as much of a fan as any one of you are. But just because I'm a blogger of Box Seats which is "by fans, for fans" means I have to have the same exact opinion as you do? I'm sorry friend, but that's not how it works.

Edsall is the best hire we could've realistically managed. Like it or not, Leach just wasn't going to fit at Maryland. The new AD and Kevin Plank himself were not prepared to stick their neck out for a guy who had such a violent ending to his tenure at Texas Tech. As for the other "flashy" candidates, Maryland isn't enough of a prestigious program to lure the big time names away. We will be, but we're not there yet.

If you look back at my posts, I did not agree with the firing of Fridge. But it is what it is at this point, and Edsall is still a great coach. He gives us a realistic shot at an ACC Championship next year, and for years to come.

I understand you feel as if you were duped by Kevin Anderson and are upset we didn't get Leach, but that doesn't mean that Edsall isn't just as good of a hire if not better. Don't judge Edsall based upon how badly you wanted Leach, judge him for who he is and what he's accomplished. If you do that, you can't help but like the guy. Give him an oppurtunity to succeed before you throw him to the wolves, he won't let you down.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 3, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Don't judge Edsall based upon how badly you wanted Leach, judge him for who he is and what he's accomplished. If you do that, you can't help but like the guy.
__________________________________________

What has he accomplished? He took a I-AA school and brought it into I-A. Quite the feat indeed, and it is an accomplishment. 5 years later they joined the Big East, also an accomplishment.

However, he's 1-16 vs. top 25. 22-26 in Big East play...not exactly a power conference. He's 4-16 against the ACC and 3-8 since '04. He's 1-6 vs. WVU, 2-5 vs. Rutgers, and 2-5 vs. Cincy.

He deserves a lot of credit for taking UConn to where it is today. But this is the guy UMD feels will take it from "good to great". Hardly...

Of course I hope I'm very wrong, Go Terps!

Posted by: floyd1079 | January 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Another thing people seem to be missing the boat on is that great football programs are built upon great fan bases. It's very rare that a program is able to achieve upper-echelon status without first having a great fan base that supports through thick and thin.

So if you're saying that you're not going to show up because you don't like the hire, then get prepared to be just a mediocre program that averages between 4-8 wins per season.

If you think that not showing up will help us to land the next Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Chris Peterson, or whoever else you want to name, you're crazy. A top tier coach isn't going to come to a program that averages less than 40,000 per home game. Beyond that, the athletic department isn't going to have the kind of money to pay those guys because the revenue isn't going to be there.

So like I said, give this guy a chance, show up and support our team. Because if you don't, NOTHING will change. If we want the success of our program to change, it doesn't start by a lack of support. It starts by us selling out Byrd and supporting the Terps, regardless of win/loss record. And that way, if I'm wrong and Edsall does fail, we at least have a reason to believe that the next upper echelon school will see Maryland as a great place to be.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 3, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Amen to your last post Rick! Fans never unserstand the real "pact" that is necessary to build a winning athletics program. It's always the non-donor or season ticket holder that whines the loudest. If you graduate from a school - and value the recognition and spirit that these student-athletes bring to your alma mater - you need to be on their donor list. you need to go to games. you need to attend the events and support them in every way possible. The apathetic, sofa sleeping, front-running fans and alumni are a real and dangerous drag on programs and prevent them from rising to the top. When was the last time there was an available seat at a Duke hoops game or VT football game? It doesn't happen and the real onus is on the fans to step up! Right on!

Posted by: Hoops44 | January 3, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line is that Friedgen had better success than Edsall. Passing on Leach because of fears of looking bad shows that the University prefers an asthetically-pleasing average program to a successful 'great' program. It is hard to argue Floyd's point, Rick and that is why you haven't argued it.

Posted by: h20andoil | January 3, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

If this is a blog BY THE FANS FOR THE FANS than perhaps you ought to at least indicate on this thread what the VAST MAJORITY of Terps fans think about this hire. We hate it. Don't claim to speak for the fans if you are going to take positions that are far, far outside the mainstream of the fan base. It's fine if you think Edsall is a great coach. But the fan base is livid about this and you certainly aren't speaking for them.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 3, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

All I'm trying to do is give my viewpoint of the hire. I said multiple times that I understand that fans are upset that Kevin Anderson passed on Leach. But I'm just not that upset. Right or wrong, I didn't like Leach for the Terps. I'm not the end all be all, I'm not the smartest guy on earth, and I'm not the one making the decision. But admittedly, I definitely exhaled a sigh of relief when Leach wasn't the guy. The baggage that comes along with hiring him is too great and I thought we could do better. And I believe we did better.

I could be wrong, but I believe a large portion of the venom towards Edsall is due to the shock of passing on Leach. I believe that if you ran the same approval/denial poll of Randy Edsall in 2-3 months, there wouldn't be anywhere near 90 percent against it. Once people see his credentials, see what he's about, and what he's going to do to help Maryland, I believe Terrapin Nation will ultimately love this guy.

As for Floyd's post, I love to hear intelligent, dissenting opinion. He brings up some valid points that are hard to argue with. I tend to be optimistic about things. I've watched a few UConn games, I've seen what Randy Edsall can do and the passion he coaches with, so I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I think people are really sleeping on just how much he really did at UConn, that is incredible in my eyes. So Floyd definitely brought up some good points, one's that should be explored. But I look at it as the reasons he wasn't as good against top 25 teams was more because he was at UConn, not because he's not an excellent coach.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 3, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Rick, all due respect, Edsall may turn out to be a fine coach, may even build upon what Ralph began. But he, so far, has not come close to doing what his predecessor has done (on a slightly larger stage). They fired Ralph to get Leach. For whatever reason (ESPN, ethics, money) they didn't get Leach. They openly admitted to this being a financial decision, wanting buzz and big splashes and all that. Leach was the only candidate they had access to who could bring that. They didn't get him. So, they downgraded having no other viable options.

I'm saying this as someone who, admittedly, was a Fridge fan, season ticket holder for 20 years and appreciative of what he'd done while running a clean program and giving us a shot at a conference championship in a very mediocre conference more often than not. I didn't want Leach (ethics matter a bit).

Hiring Edsall, if anything, will result in a hit in luxury suites filled. Anderson could luck out with an NFL lockout and attribute any bump that brings to the excitement over this new hire as opposed to merely one caused by football hungry fans deprived of their Sundays.

To simplify, they made a bad move for a semi-understandable reason (can't keep losing $), didn't get the one guy they thought they had wrapped up (for mysterious reasons), thus compounding the first mistake.

Posted by: billystark | January 3, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

On Edsall:

His critics in Connecticut often complained about Edsall's dull offenses, and his inability to develop quarterbacks before and after Dan Orlovsky finished his career in 2004. This year's offense, despite Todman being the nation's second-leading rusher, was ranked 96th in the country, 16 spots below Maryland. With the exception of 2004, when the Huskies were ranked 19th in offense, Connecticut was ranked in the bottom half of the country — three times 90th or below among 120 FBS teams since 2005.

YIIPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!

Posted by: TerpfanMA | January 3, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the last thing I'll say about the subject, for those of you who say all of Terrapin Nation hates this guy, you should read the comments that are being posted on testudotimes.com from his press conference. Seems pretty positive to me...

http://www.testudotimes.com/2011/1/3/1911415/edsall-press-conference-open-thread#comments

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 3, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Empty seats, low television and internet viewership, and a decline in booster support, thanks to KA. Turn out the lights this party is over.

Posted by: moralcompass1 | January 3, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The thing I don't like is the potential style of the team under Edsall. Defensive games that end 9-6 just are so boring to watch. So, look it's a done deal and no matter how much we whine, it's not going to change a thing. Maybe he will hire a decent offensive coordinator while he builds a great defense with our current DC. Just please, no 3 yards and a cloud of dust offenses.

Posted by: LaureninGlenBurnie | January 3, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world is he bringing his ocoordinator? The offense at uconn sucked! I couldnt even sit through the fiesta bowl because it was putting me to sleep! I hope he finds away to score because most people wont pay to go watch a team that cant score. Regardless of whether he wins it will be boring to watch.
I cant beleive so many people agree this is a terrible idea. Never seen anything so many terp fans agreed on before. We wanted excitement and we got this!?

Posted by: jokey04 | January 3, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world is he bringing his ocoordinator? The offense at uconn sucked! I couldnt even sit through the fiesta bowl because it was putting me to sleep! I hope he finds away to score because most people wont pay to go watch a team that cant score. Regardless of whether he wins it will be boring to watch.
I cant beleive so many people agree this is a terrible idea. Never seen anything so many terp fans agreed on before. We wanted excitement and we got this!?

Posted by: jokey04 | January 3, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse


Nice post Rick. Anyone who does not respect the opinions offered by Rick is narrow minded and not willing to look at the big picture. Rick has backed up his opinions with facts and if you disagree then please voice your opinion.

Hiring Edsall is a great move by the Terps as demonstrated by Ricks post. Its a shame that so many of you dont appreciate this hire because it will help to turn the Terps program around.

Posted by: Terps716bro | January 4, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse


Nice post Rick. Anyone who does not respect the opinions offered by Rick is narrow minded and not willing to look at the big picture. Rick has backed up his opinions with facts and if you disagree then please voice your opinion.

Hiring Edsall is a great move by the Terps as demonstrated by Ricks post. Its a shame that so many of you dont appreciate this hire because it will help to turn the Terps program around.

Posted by: Terps716bro | January 4, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

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