Don Brown has left Maryland for the University of Connecticut, where he will serve as their defensive coordinator, the same position he held with the Terrapins. I have heard of coaches being fired in January (obviously), I have also heard of coaches being hired up to a week before signing day. I understand that new coaches have to assemble their staffs and it can be difficult to get a coaching staff put together on time. But I have never heard of a defensive coordinator- not a position coach mind you- bailing after his recruiting class has already signed their letters of intent. I have respected coaches’ right to move on to where they feel more comfortable, regardless of whether fans are happy with their move. But this is different.
The Terrapins just signed a class of players who believed that Don Brown would be their defensive coordinator. Many of them likely decided against other teams because of Coach Brown’s scheme and their opportunities in this defense. Don Brown can leave on February 4, he has that right. But Keith Bowers, Makinton Dorleant, Cole Ferrand and others signed a contract with Maryland to play there. Leaving just two days after a number of players signed on to play for you throws the commitment they just made into question.
As Dorleant told the Baltimore Sun,
“He was the biggest reason I was going to go and play there,” Dorleant said. “If he made the decision a week before Signing Day, I definitely wouldn’t be going to Maryland. And I mean, there’s nothing I can really do now.”
Maryland doesn’t want to have to give players the option of opting out of their letters of intent, and they don’t want to force new head coach Randy Edsall to find a defensive coordinator after every major candidate is off the board. Randy Shannon is still out there, but his baggage alone was enough to make UCLA take a chance on a young question mark at defensive coordinator with Rocky Seto.
This puts Maryland behind and puts their defense far behind their competition in the ACC, as the new coordinator will have all of a couple weeks to review his team before installing a defense and coaching it during spring ball. They could always promote from within, but that would leave a new vacancy at a position coach level and likely not get a coordinator with much of a track record for success. It can be done, but it’s not pleasant.
But the real story here is the timing of the move. Don Brown sold his recruits a bill of goods, and hopefully they are as excited just to play for Maryland as they would have been to play in Brown’s defense. If a coach stays long enough to force a commitment out of impressionable 17 year old kids, he should stay long enough to at least see those kids through a season. At least, that would be the honorable thing to do. Then again, this is college recruiting, where the only thing off limits is… wait, is anything off limits?