The university and the program’s backers have hungered for a national championship to return to College Park for the first time since 1975, and Cottle annually welcomed recruiting classes ranked among the top five in the country.
Just by the numbers, Cottle achieved considerable success since joining the Terps from Loyola prior to the 2002 season. The team went to eight consecutive NCAA Tournaments – the second-longest active streak behind Johns Hopkins’ streak of 39 – and three Final Fours.
Cottle compiled a 99-45 record with the school (280-115 overall), posted seven straight years of 10 wins or more, and helped Maryland capture two Atlantic Coast Conference titles.
The Terps, however, tended to stumble in May. In both 2003 and 2005, they were pasted by Virginia and Duke, respectively, in the national semifinals. In 2006, Maryland dropped an 8-5 decision to unseeded Massachusetts in the Final Four – a devastating outcome for a senior-laden team.
In the end, as Virginia coach Dom Starsia noted, there’s only one that matters.
"The number that counts at schools like Virginia and Hopkins and Maryland is the No. 1," Starsia said Sunday after his top-seeded Cavaliers edged No. 8 seed Stony Brook in a NCAA Tournament quarterfinal. "You have to be No. 1 once in a while. When we moved my dad to Charlottesville in 1998, I had been there since 1993 and we had been in overtime of the NCAA finals twice. And I thought, ‘Oh, this is great. We’re going to move my dad to Charlottesville and I’m going to get fired.’ We were able to break through in ’99 and win a championship. I think we all understand there’s a bottom line here. I just wish that everybody could be in Dave Cottle’s shoes for a couple days. We get to this point in the playoffs, we’re at the quarterfinals, we’re at Stony Brook. John Desko [of Syracuse] is home, Joe Breschi [of North Carolina] is home, Maryland’s home, we almost went home. It’s really hard. I’m sure Maryland’s a little frustrated. They haven’t held the trophy at the end of the tournament oin a while. But I will say this: whoever is going to be the coach at Maryland is going to have a hard time because none of us are going to lay down for him."