In April, Maryland sitting at 2-0 going into the UConn game would have been expected.
In late August it seemed almost assured that things would have imploded by now. Don’t look now, but the Terps played two and a half good quarters last Saturday. Maryland has already equaled its win total from last season and has done so with freshman quarterback Perry Hills learning on the job.
The spotlight now shifts firmly to Randy Edsall, who spent a decade building UConn football, then left it via text message.
Nothing sums up what’s at stake on Saturday quite like this sermon from Andrew Porter at The Uconn Blog. Here’s my favorite part:
When he went to Maryland Edsall called it his dream job. This was also bullshit. Anyone with eyes knows that Edsall –a Pennsylvania boy — always had his eye on Joe Paterno’s seat in Happy Valley. There are two ironies about that. The first is that if Edsall had been patient, if he had waited one more year to make a jump (and remember he turned down other coaching opportunities before) he would have been a favorite to be Penn State’s head coach. The second is that Edsall at uconn tried to imitate how Paterno ran Penn State, preaching program above all else. They told their players the individual should be subsumed into the collective effort, but when the chips were down and tough decisions needed to be made — and obviously there’s a huge difference in scale between the decisions Joe Pa and Edsall needed to make — both men failed to practice what they preached because the individual they couldn’t control was themselves and their pride and vanity got the better of them.
Seriously go read the whole thing, it rivals Ralph Friedgen’s “Hit ‘Em Up” letter as the most thorough and incisive takedown of Edsall as a professional in print. It also points out the fact that Esdall is not going to be torn between two worlds like so many coaches who leave programs, because frankly he doesn’t have a lot of good will on either side. In a weird way, this may be the game where Maryland fans may have to decide “hey, hey’s not the guy we’d pick, but he’s our guy.”
In fairness to “Coach Rangoon,” all he’s done in 2012 is watch his starters go down with injuries and win 100% of the games Maryland has taken the field. Technically, there’s not a lot more that the Maryland faithful could ask of a head coach. In reality, we know this isn’t true, but if the overwhelming outpouring of Edsall support is out there, I’m just missing it.
Esdall knows his departure from UConn was less than classy. He knows that 2011 was an unmitigated disaster, and that his Maryland football coaching record sits at 2-10 against FBS teams. UConn’s football fans (here’s where a national writer would make a crack about ‘there is such a thing?’ LOL) know this too, and Saturday will be an opportunity to work out their anger issues on their old coach. Maybe the UConn upperclassmen have moved on from Esdall’s escape, or at least if they haven’t they’re not admitting it.
Either way, there may come a moment on Saturday where Randy Edsall needs something he hasn’t really had so far at Byrd Stadium: Maryland’s unequivocal support.
Tweet of the Week: Wide receiver Nigel King settles the Popeyes vs. Bojangles debate once and for all. I’m surprised this didn’t launch another flurry of spurious “Maryland to the SEC?!” rumors.
Predictions: Perry Hills will rush for another touchdown, although it will be intentional…Justus Pickett will lead the team in carries, but Wes Brown will continue to look like the most dangerous player in the backfield…the defensive line will put together its first 4-quarter performance…Diggs will get his first receiving TD…Maryland will win, 21-17
“Shell Game” is season-long a chronicle of Maryland football’s recovery from its disastrous 2011 campaign. The University of Maryland athletic department chose to deny our request for access. It was probably a wise move.