Ever since Randy Edsall questioned the way Ralph Friedgen ran his program by intimating that there was no accountability for the Maryland players under their former coach, I have closely followed the statements the first-year coach has made to excuse his disastrous first season in College Park.
Most were predictable. How the Terps have lost seven defensive starters to injury, including a season-ending injury to All-ACC safety turned linebacker Kenny Tate. How Maryland is using a lot of freshmen. To his credit, Edsall finally began to take some of the blame after the loss at home to Boston College.
But nothing Edsall has said could be further from the truth than what he mentioned during Sunday's teleconference with reporters after another debacle, Saturday's 31-13 meltdown against Virginia at Byrd Stadium. Edsall said that what the Terps are going through reminds of him of what Connecticut experienced moving from Division I-AA to I-A under him.
Ah, the good old days.
About the only similarities are that Connecticut finished 10-3 the year before he arrived and as he did in replacing Friedgen, he took over for a popular coach in Skip Holtz. Sadly, the other similarity is Maryland's lousy record. After that, it would be like an NFL coach comparing his team to the first high school team he coached.
The Huskies finished 4-7 their first year under Edsall while still playing as a I-AA school in the Atlantic 10, a year after winning the conference, and 3-8 their second. They were 2-9 in their first season in Division I-A. I know the ACC is not the Southeastern Conference, or even the Big Ten, but it's not the Atlantic 10.
Connecticut didn't even play a Big East schedule until 2005, and, by then, it wasn't even as good as the ACC.
The expectations in Storrs weren't the same then as they are in College Park, where many fans figured the Terps to compete for a division title this year behind reigning ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien at quarterback, the tailback combination of Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams and Tate's leadership at safety.
O'Brien struggled in Gary Crowton's spread offense, was benched and is now sharing the position with C.J. Brown. Adams has been in the doghouse since spring, and Tate, after being moved to outside linebacker, has been injured for most of the season. I wouldn't be shocked if O'Brien and Adams lead the exodus from the Gossett Team House after the season.
The fans who were yelling from the stands at Byrd Stadium during Saturday's game to fire Edsall won't get their wish. If you think the school didn't have the money to pay off Friedgen after a 2-10 season in 2009, when the Fridge had two years left on his $2 million-a-year contract, do you think it can find $10 million for Edsall's remaining five years?
By the looks of things, the Terps are headed for another 2-10 season, and things will probably get worse.
Along with the number of talented players who will be leaving Maryland — also likely to include David Mackall, the defensive end from Baltimore who was recently suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules — next year's recruiting class could be the worst in recent memory.
Maybe Terps fans should listen to Boomer Esiason, the former Maryland quarterback who upon Edsall's hiring in January said tfans should support the new coach because “it's not his fault he's here” — a comment directed at athletic director Kevin Anderson's decision to fire Friedgen, then hire Edsall over fan favorite Mike Leach.
How many letters of apology can Anderson send to Terrapin Club members asking for their patience? How many angry emails and telephone calls can Anderson receive before he takes his “good to great” mantra somewhere else? How many more tweets can be sent around the world by Maryland fans hardy enough to show up every week with pictures of a near-empty stadium?
Maryland now has a coach with a losing career record, since Saturday's defeat dropped Edsall's mark to 76-77. With the likelihood of cutting sports in College Park to trim what The Washington Post reported to be a nearly $5 million shortfall this year, I have a suggestion that goes back to Edsall's original premise about Maryland’s being similar to Connecticut.
It could fix the whole mess.
Perhaps Maryland should consider joining the Colonial Athletic Association — the Southeastern Conference of what we used to call I-AA — for football only.
That Towson-Maryland rivarly would be terrific.