I will preface my thoughts by saying that I have very little knowledge of how good a coach Randy Edsall is.  Nor do I feel like he cannot be successful as the next head football coach at the University of Maryland.  What I do know is that Edsall was not the right man for the job, and the Terrapin fan base is none to pleased by the fact that Mike Leach was not introduced today.  The reaction to the hiring of Edsall has been overwhelmingly negative.  Here are just a few examples:

From a commenter on Jeff Barker’s Terps Blog on the Baltimore Sun

“So you mean to tell me that we just ran out a loyal Terp alum and proven coach, who had a 75-50 record, 7 bowls in 10 years, 2 ACC Coach of the Year and one National Coach of the Year awards, and one of the top young teams in the conference going into next season, for this?? Edsall sports a 74-70 record, went 8-5 this year, has gone to 5 bowls in 10 seasons as a head coach, and whose best season ever was a 9-4 (what the Terps ended up with this year, and bested several years during Friedgen’s tenure).”

From former Maryland QB Boomer Esiason:

“I don’t know if the overall general fan base knows enough about Randy Edsall to get excited about him,” Esiason said.” If you’re going to pay one guy $2 million to leave and bring another guy in for another $2 million, that’s $4 million that you’re spending next year and you’re thinking, ‘For $4 million, this is what we’re getting?’ It sounds terribly negative — [but] If you’re going to buy out Ralph Friedgen, someone who’s an alum and an established personality, I think Maryland should have gone bigger and should have gone with a name that maybe would have energized the fan base.”

Excerpts from an email sent to AD Kevin Anderson and many members of the Terrapin Club:

“Kevin, you promised a push for greatness, and now you make your bed with Edsall over Leach (or Malzahn). Well, you just lost my ticket sales TC Membership and MGN Gold and god knows how many 1000s of others with this choice.  Greatness is rarely the easy or politically correct choice.  Greatness is never the safe choice.  Greatness is not bowing to political pressure. You let Brit Kirwan make this hire, even though your fan base called for Mike Leach

Now this news I say you chose the safe guy, and safe doesn’t get anyone to greatness.

I believe that in going with Edsall we just spent $2million to buy out a solid coach and a solid succession plan for a vanilla coach who will never be great, but hopefully does no worse than allowing us to just stay good.

Today I am sick to my stomach, really, at this choice for my University. You had a chance to bring some real excitement and a clear path to greatness in Mike Leach.
Other schools fans were fearful of Leach in the ACC. Fans and recruits would be excited to be at College Park for the first time in a long time.  Today mediocrity reigns at the University of Maryland. On internet fan boards in Maryland and nationally, I have yet to hear anyone excited today. This is your audience, this is your fan base, this is who buys tickets and suites and merchandise. And they are at best ho hum and at worst threatening to pull support and shift to one of the many other competitors for the entertainment dollar.”

Another notable Terp alum, Scott Van Pelt, expressed his disappointment in the decision to pass over Leach as the next Maryland football coach.  Van Pelt expressed similar concern as the above quotes, wondering how a coach that the entire fan base was excited about, could be passed over.  Not only that, but the amount of excitement and ticket sales hiring Leach would have generated to a Maryland football program that has become stale, despite a nine win season.  Despite declining performance on  the field in recent years, the ticket sales  issue is what did in former coach Ralph Friedgen.  Season ticket and corporate suite sales have steadily dropped and the inability to sell out the final home game against N.C. State may have been the final nail in the Fridge’s coffin.

So why not hire Leach when there was so much support for him?  It seems to boil down to the fact that Leach has some baggage and there was greater risk involved.  There is speculation that the baggage alarmed members of the Maryland administration and that AD Anderson’s hands were tied.  These rumors may or may not be true, but what I do know is that when pursuing greatness, the safe road is rarely the road that gets you there.  In Edsall, Maryland fans may have to settle for being good and occasionally very good.  Not much of a change in direction.