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EDITORIAL: Susquehannock grad Edsall had troubled tenure with Terps

York Dispatch
YorkDispatch

Dreams really do come true.

That doesn't guarantee, however, that the dream will have a happy ending.

When Randy Edsall was hired as Maryland's head football coach in January of 2011, he said it was his "dream job."

That made perfect sense. The Susquehannock High School graduate grew up in Glen Rock, less than 75 miles from College Park. The first college football game he ever saw was at Byrd Stadium.

Now, fast forward less than five years later, and he's been fired.

The dream is over. There will be no happy ending.

The nightmarish conclusion came last week, but only after Edsall was left twisting in the wind for three days by the Maryland administration after reports of his impending dismissal were leaked to the media.

The Maryland-Edsall marriage, however, was troubled from the start.

When he took the Terps job, he immediately came under fire for not personally informing his former players at UConn. The Huskies players learned about his departure from UConn through the media or text messages from friends and family. It's something that Edsall later said he regretted.

During his first season at Maryland, the struggles continued. Edsall had to follow Ralph Friedgen, a Maryland grad who was also very successful with the Terps, compiling a 75-50 record, including a 9-4 mark in his final season. Lots of Maryland fans hated to see Friedgen leave and gave Edsall a less-than-warm welcome.

The reception became downright frosty once Edsall started butting heads with many of Friedgen's former players, who left the program in droves once Edsall arrived. Friedgen was well known as a players' coach with a relatively relaxed approach to discipline. Edsall, meanwhile, was much more of a hard-liner. Not surprisingly, some players rebelled.

Without the support of many of Friedgen's former players, Edsall's first year at Maryland turned into a 2-10 disaster.

There was steady improvement after that, including two winning seasons and two bowl bids in 2013 and 2014.

After last season, Edsall even received a contract extension, and all seemed well. Under the surface, however, there were still signs of problems.

Maryland finished last season by blowing a 25-point lead to Rutgers in the regular-season finale, an eventual 41-38 loss, before getting pounded by Stanford in the Foster Farms Bowl — a second straight bowl loss.

Even in Maryland's biggest win of the season, a 20-19 victory at Penn State, Edsall had to deal with a major controversy when his captains refused to shake hands with the PSU captains before the game, leading to some pre-game pushing and shoving. Edsall apologized for his players' actions, but it gave the impression that he might not have full control of his team.

Finally, the contract extension turned out to be more cosmetic than substantive, with only $500,000 guaranteed.

This year, things went south in a hurry. An ugly 48-27 home loss to Bowling Green was the beginning of the end. A win was followed by three losses by combined scores of 122-34.

Worse, Maryland boosters were reportedly closing their wallets, and Edsall's players were not exactly lining up to support their coach. There was even a report that the Terps held a players-only meeting and refused to tell their head coach what transpired. And these were players that Edsall recruited.

Finally, Edsall stormed out of his post-game news conference Oct. 10 after angrily answering a question he thought was unfair.

His fate was sealed.

Edsall leaves Maryland with a 22-34 career record, including an 0-11 mark vs. Top 25 foes. He would likely be the first to admit that is simply not good enough.

He can leave College Park proud of the fact that he significantly improved the program's academic performance.

Unfortunately, coaches aren't judged on academics. They're judged on wins and losses, and Edsall just didn't win enough games.