Maryland's Edsall Under Pressure in First Big Ten Season

By Mike Young on July 14, 2014 at 11:00a

While Brady Hoke, Bo Pelini and Tim Beckman's collective failure to meet expectations are familiar to Big Ten fans, Randy Edsall is a new addition to the conference "hot seat." His path to Maryland and standards there differ but, by the end of the season, their fates may be the same.

Before becoming the Terrapins' head coach, Edsall led Connecticut to unforeseen heights. UConn had no history at the Division-IA (FBS) level prior to Edsall, as he took over the program in 1999 and helped transition them from 1-AA to the highest level of competition at the collegiate level. 

In his fifth season, the program moved to a new stadium, with a capacity increase of 23,800. Edsall took the Huskies to their first bowl game in 2004, also their first season in the Big East Conference. The 2007 UConn squad split the Big East title, a huge accomplishment in, albeit, a watered-down conference. He spent the next three seasons in Storrs (playing in Hartford) and went to a bowl game in each of them. 

Edsall earned the reputation as a "program builder," which Maryland didn't necessarily need after coming off a 9-4 season. Still, they made a controversial decision to fire Ralph Friedgen in 2010. Through all of his faults, the former Terps coach had an eye for building a solid staff (see: Bill O'Brien, James Franklin and ace-recruiter Mike Locksley).

Friedgen's firing created enough acrimony between the two that "The Fridge" said he burned his diploma from the university and started rooting for Georgia Tech. Still, Maryland felt like it was worth bringing Edsall, who just led his team to the Fiesta Bowl.

Fairly or unfairly, Edsall wasn't fully embraced when he took over. He departed UConn on poor terms, something which he still regrets. Also, though Maryland was inconsistent since Friedgen's three, 10-win seasons to at the beginning of his tenure, he rebounded well while surrounded by years of speculation around his job security. 

Edsall arrived in 2011 and didn't win anyone over. He didn't win much at all, going 2-10 overall, and 1-7 in the ACC. Despite not having a rich, winning tradition, it was only the second time in school history Maryland's lost 10 games. Their lone conference victory that year came in the season opener against Miami and the other win was against Towson. 

The Terps ended the season on an eight-game losing streak, but that didn't kill the momentum on the recruiting trail. In his first positive development as head coach, stud five-star wideout Stefon Diggs spurned Ohio State and others to stay at home. 

Unfortunately, that was all the good news Maryland received in 2012. The Terrapins, rather infamously, cycled through five different quarterbacks due to injuries. Shawn Petty – who has since transferred – was a scout-team linebacker forced to step in at QB, as one of the few, healthy players with quarterback experience on the roster. For that, in a 4-8 (2-6) season, Edsall earned a pass – even though he ran out of players who could complete one.

Last season marked a turnaround of sorts, as he led Maryland to a 7-6 (3-5) record, which included a berth in the Military Bowl. That came in spite of season-ending injuries to Diggs and fellow five-star receiver Deon Long.

Still, the recruiting momentum continued, with commitments from five-star offensive lineman Damian Prince and a trio of four-star talents. At this point, Edsall has out-recruited his predecessor and his players are out-performing Friedgen's in the classroom. 

As the program enters the Big Ten – yet another transition for Edsall to oversee – it's time for those recruiting stars to translate into victories. He's had time to build depth, so injuries cannot continue to be used as an excuse. 

Just as Maryland fans may think they're turning the proverbial corner, a daunting schedule awaits. Their most difficult games are at home – Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State – with one road test against budding rival Penn State. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin has made inroads in the Mid-Atlantic area, increasing the pressure on Edsall.

If he rounds out the the 2015 recruiting class as well as he has in the past, and can couple that with another bowl appearance, Edsall's job should be safe. Anything less, which is certainly possible, and Maryland can put their newfound Big Ten money towards paying off the rest of his contract. 


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703Buckeye's picture

In the times I've talked with Coach Edsall, he has come across as a really good guy and his players seem to like him a lot. If he can continue the hot recruiting and develop the talent, Maryland will be solid in the B1G. 

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

I would say that Edsall may be able to build a program there.  The ACC may have been the second best conference last year, and his conference record should not be looked at as that bad.  Although, Maryland got absolutely pasted by Florida State last year...

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

CC's picture

People forget MD was ranked in the top 25 going into that game...  Losing by 40+ will end that quick.

+2 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

Optimistically, Maryland finishes 4th in the division assuming Michigan pulls a Michigan, Rutgers is Rutgers, and IU is IU. Realistically, its a battle between IU, Rutgers, and Maryland for 5th-7th in the division. Maryland's future is much brighter than Rutgers or Indiana IMO, if they figure out how to keep some of their top talent in state and develop the less-recruited players. I don't see Maryland competing for the division title anytime in the next 5 years, but a 3rd place finish in that time is not too much of a stretch if they put things together. For them to win the division, OSU, MSU, Michigan, and PSU would all have to have a very down year because they won't have the depth of talent those programs will have. IMO, they are the B1G's version of Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Cal, Vanderbilt, UVA. They can be very competitive at their best, but I don't see them winning the conference without a lot of luck. 

+1 HS
CC's picture

I agree with your analogy, but you could have put MSU in that place about 10 years ago.  Now that seems silly.

I think UMD can be very good but it's going to be tough sledding in this half of the conference.  There are very few "get healthy" games on their schedule.'s picture

Generally agree. But would add that Penn State's lack of an O line, lack of depth and lack of a go-to receiver for their ace QB put them in the mix for the bottom half of the division. Maryland has Penn State circled. Rutgers does too. 

+2 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I hope that they can use their relationship with Under Armour as well as the B1G's influence to become Oregon East.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+1 HS
CC's picture

I was in Baltimore this weekend (Collge Park is closer to DC) and UA is everywhere.  they had a retail spot on the inner harbor that is over the top.  They have a hbig corporate build behind the Domino Sugar building also on the inner harbor.  While they aren't Nike they are definitely for real in a way most people in Ohio don't understand.

Count me as one who likes thier uniforms (for the most part).

+2 HS
CC's picture

Deon Long (another 4/5 * WR) was also out last season.  Neither Long nor Diggs participated in spring practive.

BierStube's picture

Anyone else really wanting Maryland to beat PSU this year ... or is it just me.

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+9 HS
BroJim's picture

I'm really looking forward to that game. PSU has no depth and it is a mid season game, I think Maryland has a good shot!

I season my simple food with hunger

+1 HS
Ethos's picture

haha! see my post below, totally didn't read this till now.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Ethos's picture

I actually almost went ot Maryland, mom is an Alum.  It's a very nice campus, that is why he has success with recruiting. They have good programs and well known professors.

Anyways, I wish him luck, except when they play us.  I will be rooting for Maryland when they play Penn State though, cause I love seeing disappointed penn state fans for some reason. (probably cause I grew up in PA and I still hate that state)

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

+1 HS
Nick's picture

Maybe because they cry the most? 

DC-town's picture

Best part of that 'Edsall happy dance' was the ticker at the bottom saying cam newton's dad was shopping him to miss state...joke-

my expert sources (ea sports NCAA football 2014) say that Maryland will be tough this year...tougher than most think anyway.  Edsall is a good coach tht needs to keep the recruiting train going, but could go 500 this year and build on that going forward.  He's been inking 5 star guys, and that's something people don't seem to give him credit for, but shoul show up in the win column this year

'Piss excellence' -RB

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Maryland's football fans have expectations? Wait, Maryland has football fans?!?!

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

703Buckeye's picture

A lot more than you think.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

Knarcisi's picture

Crab cakes and football!  That's what Maryland does!

+2 HS
swainpm's picture

I think he's on steroids. It's like trying to cover a f@c!ing racehorse.

chemicalwaste's picture

Really doesn't sound too bad to me.

Shangheyed's picture

Wish them luck, certainly will have more success on the hard courts early... Football will take some time.... and a prayer... or two.

apack614's picture

I hope they can bring some life to the B1G obviously not this year in football but eventually haha

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.