Posted by Chip Patterson
Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has had a rocky start to his first year in College Park. The Terps started hot, with flashy jerseys and a big opening win against Miami in front of a national audience. But the Terps followed that victory with a pair of losses in front of the home crowd, including an embarrassing 38-7 rout at the hands of Temple. Edsall has been very adamant about team discipline, already suspending offensive standouts Ronnie Tyler, Quintin McCree, and D.J. Adams at times this season for violation of team rules. He does not allow ball caps, do-rags, or earrings around the football complex, and has stressed that his first priority as head coach is to change the culture around Maryland.
Jeff Barker, of The Baltimore Sun had an interesting take on the rocky start and transition to Edsall's style of coaching. Below is an excerpt from the column.
"It's up and down. It's been a roller coaster," said quarterback Danny O'Brien, whose red T-shirt on Tuesday bore the team's slogan - 'No Excuses. Just Play.' - in white lettering. "In one month, we've experienced a lot of highs and a lot of lows already. I think that's going to be good for us. We've already experienced a lot of adversity as a team."
O' Brien called Edsall "a great leader.
But not everybody is on board. One prominent veteran player said privately that Edsall's strict style doesn't allow individuals to be themselves and that he's looking forward to the season's end. Another veteran player has sought advice about dealing with Edsall from Friedgen who was dismissed in December with one year remaining on his contract.
"A lot of guys are making a rough transition to the way Randy Edsall wants to run things," said former Maryland receiver Emani Lee-Odai, who keeps in touch with the current Terps players.
Former coach Ralph Friedgen made headlines last week with his comment on the radio regarding his distaste for the current Maryland administration, and his wife was recently welcomed warmly on a visit to the team. It is not unreasonable to be concerned with the players' commitment to the new head coach.
ESPN.com's Heather Dinich questioned if Friedgen had become a distraction to the team during the ACC's weekly coaches' teleconference, and Edsall predictably dodged the topic. But how long will he have to deal with Friedgen's looming presence in College Park? In addition to being the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year, Friedgen played offensive guard for the Terps and spent two different stints on the staff before taking over as head coach in 2001. In ten seasons he went to seven bowls with a 5-2 postseason record, and was deeply engrained in the Maryland football culture.
For the Maryland faithful, Edsall doesn't have that kind of familiarity to earn that trust off the bat. He's a Big East guy through and through, spending his playing days and first coaching positions at Syracuse and making a name for himself at Connecticut. His core values are in academics and player discipline, both reasons athletic director Kevin Anderson cited at the time of his hire.
The team, students, and fans will all join Camp Edsall eventually. The frustrations regarding the leadership change are a direct result of the Terps' on-field struggles. Winning doesn't cure everything, as some people say, but it goes a long way to fixing inter-program strifes. Once Maryland gets it together on the field, I expect the off-field chatter to slow down significantly.
Despite the frustrating home losses, Maryland is undefeated in conference play. At this point, only five teams in the league can still say that. If the Terps keep winning conference games they will put themselves in a position to compete for a conference title. It is much easier said than done, particularly with Georgia Tech and Clemson as their next two opponents, but if the Terps follow Edsall's lead and focus on the next game it can be done.
However if the losses pile up in the coming weeks, the questions about "transition," "distraction," and "culture" will only continue for the first-year head coach.
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