Posted: 8:00 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
By Dave Tucker
After former head coach Ralph Friedgen was fired following the 2010 season, Maryland fans wondered who would be taking over a program that had become somewhat stagnant after being brought back to life during Friedgen's first three seasons in College Park. Many weren't happy when Friedgen was fired and others were disappointed that Maryland didn't make a splashy hire like Mike Leach. That has made current head coach Randy Edsall a lightning rod of sorts for the Maryland fan base. When the decision was made to hire Edsall to replace Friedgen, many weren't sure what to expect. Edsall had successfully built and transitioned a University of Connecticut football program to the D-1 level, capped off with a birth in the Fiesta Bowl before being hired by Kevin Anderson to take the helm at Maryland. But Edsall's teams struggled against tougher competition and many wondered how he'd do in a conference like the ACC, which was a step up from the Big East.
The Terps, who were coming off a 9-4 season behind the strong performance of ACC rookie of the year quarterback Danny O'Brien, expected to do well during Edsall's first year. They opened the season on Labor Day, defeating a very good Miami team at home on national TV, while debuting the now infamous Maryland pride uniforms. Good or bad, people around the country were talking about Maryland football. Unfortunately, that was probably the highlight of the season for Maryland, which is never good when that occurs in your first game. Things quickly went downhill from there. By the end of his first season in College Park, Randy Edsall's Maryland team had won just two games, switched quarterbacks, and was looking at a long list of students wanting to transfer out of the program. Gary Crowton, who was brought in as offensive coordinator from LSU to run a quick, up-tempo offense, was fired after the season. O'Brien, who was considered by many to be the future for the Terps at quarterback, had broken his arm and decided to graduate early and transfer to Wisconsin. Defensive coordinator Todd Bradford, who was basically handed the job by default when Don Brown suddenly elected to spur Maryland and accept the same position with UConn (he's now the defensive coordinator with Boston College), was also let go after an abysmal season by the defense. The only real positive that came out of the 2011 season were the new Under Armour uniforms.
2012 was supposed to be the rebound year for Maryland. Edsall had players who all bought into his program and style of thinking. He'd hired former offensive coordinator and New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley to replace Gary Crowton, a move that would immediately pay dividends on the recruiting train.Brian Stewart was brought in to become the new defensive coordinator, a coach viewed by many as having a very smart and talented defensive mind. C.J. Brown was named the new quarterback, local stud wide receiver Stefon Diggs had committed to Maryland and was preparing to become a local star on the team. But before the season could even begin, the injuries started. We all know where Maryland ended up last year, with a linebacker turned quarterback running the offense. Still, the Terps were able to win four games and likely would have been bowl eligible had they not lost their top four quarterbacks during the season.
The bar has been set high in 2013 for Randy Edsall and this Maryland program. Edsall and his team are expected to perform, regardless of the obstacles his team faces this season. The Terps have the talent, the coaching, and the ability to succeed in their last season of ACC play. The bare minimum this team needs to achieve is bowl eligibility in 2013, but they'll likely have to better than that for Edsall and his staff to have what most would consider a successful year. Maryland needs to show they're capable of winning now. Fair or not, the world we live in is one where people demand results instantaneously. Additionally, Maryland's athletic department is counting on Edsall to turn it around and put fans back in the stands at Byrd Stadium. All of those factors mean Randy Edsall's window to succeed at Maryland is quickly closing. With the competition on the gridiron only getting harder next season when Big Ten play begins, he needs to deliver results this season or he could be looking for a new job in 2014.