Randy Edsall Hired By Maryland
FROM THE MARYLAND ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT: Randy Edsall, who spent the last 12 years taking the University of Connecticut from Division I-AA status (now FCS) to five bowl games, including a BCS contest, has been named Maryland’s head football coach, director of athletics Kevin Anderson announced Sunday evening.
Edsall, who will be introduced Monday during a news conference, guided the Huskies to a pair of BIG EAST Conference titles (2007, 2010) and postseason appearances in each of the last four seasons, including the 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The 2010 BIG EAST Coach of the Year has led the Huskies to eight or more wins in each of the last four seasons as the Huskies successfully made the ascent from Division I-AA.
Prior to his stint in Storrs, Conn., Edsall, a native of Glen Rock, Pa., spent one season (1998) as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech and four years (1994-97) as a defensive backs coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars who went from expansion team to the AFC Championship game during his tenure.
A pounding running game, a sound defense, and no passing game whatsoever. That’ll shake up a basketball school.
Instead of hiring Mike Leach, if he really was an option, Maryland went for Randy Edszzzzzzz, Randy Edszzzzzzz, sorry, Randy Edsall, the Connecticut head man fresh off taking his upstart program to the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall’s Huskies did an admirable job of not wetting themselves against the far superior Sooners, but for all the good things they did this year, they didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the final eight quarters of the season. That’s not going to get the phone lines ringing off the hook.
There’s no question that Edsall is a fantastic head football coach. He made Connecticut football what it is and he was a tremendous spokesman for the program and the university. Most impressive of all, he made football relevant at a place where he and his sport had to sit in the third row in the back of the minivan while Jim Calhoun’s powerhouse and Geno’s girls got all the attention.
Beyond not needing the spotlight, Edsall has proven that he can win with lesser talents. He and his staff didn’t exactly burn up the recruiting charts, yet year after year he seemed to find gems at linebacker and running backs built to handle 30 carries a game and ask for more. Maryland isn’t necessarily going to get the top-shelf playmakers, but if Edsall can get his share from the fertile recruiting area, he should be able to make them shine. He did a lot with far less than he’ll get to work with in College Park.
But the problem is that winning might not quite be enough at Maryland. Ralph Friedgen won, and was named coach of the year, and the program’s success was met with a collective yawn as tickets didn’t exactly fly out of the box office for key games late in the year. The bigger overall problem, and part of the reason Friedgen was canned, was that the season ticket sales have dipped dramatically and there are still
several luxury boxes that need to be sold. The economy has a lot to do with the problem, but the other issue is that Maryland football needs to get spicier. Leach was Tabasco while Edsall is oatmeal.
But the fact of the matter is that Leach, for all the pyrotechnics and all the bluster, didn’t really take Texas Tech to an elite level. It managed to win a piece of the 2008 Big 12 South championship, and then it pulled a 2010 Michigan State, lost in the bowl, and ended all the sympathy pains felt for a team that didn’t catch a break. Other than that, he didn’t take the Red Raiders to a Big 12 title game, much less a BCS game. But he would’ve sold tickets and Maryland football would’ve been a thing.
Edsall at least has a BCS appearance on the résumé.
The hope has to be that Edsall is a special coach who’s about to become among the elite if he just has a few more tools to work with. Coaching hires are always a fickle projection. No one would’ve guessed that Dan Hawkins would be such a dud with Colorado while everyone is still scratching their heads over the shocking success of Gene Chizik at Auburn; you never know.
Edsall’s a likeable guy, a rock of a coach, and a good, sound, solid hire. The question will be whether or not all that will be enough to put butts in the seats.
And now you know why Maryland AD Kevin Anderson asked Ralph Friedgen to pack up his desk and not return to the sidelines in 2011.
Fans in College Park may not be familiar with Randy Edsall, but they will be, and they’ll like his approach. The Terps just signed one of the best coaches in the industry, which is always a reason to celebrate. Edsall is a proven winner, who does things right at all levels, taking Connecticut from the ranks of the FCS and making it a consistent winner in the Big East. He’s a coach’s coach, meaning he’s a teacher and the kind of guy who pays attention to little details. His ability to transform average high school recruits into all-stars and NFL types will be of particular interest to Maryland, which doesn’t exactly rest on fertile recruiting soil.
Edsall is the epitome of a winner and a significant step forward for Maryland. The only caveat will be attendance and general fan interest, which have been big issues in these parts. Unlike Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn, two names tossed around for the opening, Edsall won’t have an instant impact on the turnstiles. He’s just not that kind of guy. He’s more of a buttoned-up, conservative coach, whose offenses can be downright predictable and boring. This qualifies as a fantastic hire for Anderson, even if it takes a while for the locals and student-body to get on board with it.
As far as Connecticut goes, it might be wise to keep the sharp objects as far away as possible. In the span of 24 hours, the Huskies lost badly to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, lost star junior RB Jordan Todman to the NFL, and lost their architect to the ACC.