Hot Seat: Will 2012 Make or Break Coach Randy Edsall's Future at Maryland?
Two wins and 10 losses, records lows in attendance, and 24 players transferring within 12 months due to a regime change. Things could not have gone much worse for Maryland football coach Randy Edsall in 2011. It is no secret that former head coach Ralph Friedgen was thrown under the bus by University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson. The situation created a difficult environment for Edsall to adapt to from the start.
Known as a strict disciplinarian, Edsall has received staunch criticism for his totalitarian approach to coaching the Terrapins. If there was ever a time to terminate the Maryland football coach, Kevin Anderson had the perfect opportunity to do so following last season—a failure in College Park.
As Edsall is still at the helm, he will remain in that position for the foreseeable future regardless of the product he puts on the field this fall for the following reasons.
Financial Strain: Maryland Is Not in a Position to Take a Monetary Risk
Firing Randy Edsall would require the Maryland Athletic Department to swallow the remainder of his five-year contract. Considering that the department is currently in the process of cutting eight varsity sports teams, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson would have a tough time justifying such a decision. He created a 17-member committee in 2011 to investigate the athletic department’s financial woes. To exacerbate the situation, the Terrapin Club (Maryland's alumni group) has lost thousands of donors amidst the economic downturn.
Women’s basketball, men’s basketball and football are the only revenue generating sports in College Park. Earlier this decade, Maryland invested 50 million dollars into luxury suites at Byrd Stadium. It is now Edsall’s job to fill them. Washington Post Columnist John Feinstein, a strong critic of Edsall’s, has constantly argued that a new hire would have the potential to attract fans and make up for the money lost in buying out Edsall. Even so, it looks like firing Edsall would certainly involve a huge financial risk for Maryland.
Recruiting: Reasserting Maryland Football in-State
Even with a 2-10 team on the field, Edsall has focused on staking a claim to top recruits in the DMV. The Terps have lost a number of elite recruits to out-of-state foes in recent years, including Jelani Jenkins to Florida and Derrick Williams to Penn State (Currently a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers).
In 2011, Edsall attracted 5-star recruit Stefon Diggs, 4-star recruit Wes Brown, as well as Washington D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year—Albert Reid (listed as an athlete out of Friendship Collegiate) to the University of Maryland. He also brought in transfer Ricardo Young (a former D.C. area stud and Virginia Tech Commit).
As he is currently working with Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin’s recruits, Edsall may deserve a chance to see his recruits mature.
Developing a Strong Coaching Staff: Off-Season Acquisition of Coordinators
By far, Coach Edsall’s best move of the off-season was hiring Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley and Defensive Coordinator Brian Stewart. Locksley, who has a bit of a contentious history as the head coach of the New Mexico Lobos, is a recruiting kingpin in the D.C. area. Edsall recognized that he made a poor choice by hiring LSU’s Gary Crowton as offensive coordinator.
Not only that, but Edsall also sought help on the defensive end. He hired Brian Stewart to shore up the defense. Stewart has experience as a coordinator in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and most recently served on the staff of the Houston Cougars. Edsall’s hires contradict the authoritarian approach that he projected upon the Maryland community in 2011. With these changes, Edsall may have saved his job—or did he?