Kevin Anderson said, at a certain point, when everyone was gnashing their teeth after the season that you were going have a full review of the season. I assume you would do that anyway. But more specifically, what did that particular full review entail?
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Along those lines, you did come here with a mandate from Kevin and the university to change the internal culture of the football program. I know you didn't expect that to be a cakewalk, but — in any way — do you feel like you were blindsided, either by your idealization of the job coming in or by the culture that already existed here?
I don't think that I was blindsided. I think that what happens is when you do come in, you have your eyes wide open to see everything that's going on and to see the things you see but also to incorporate what you want to incorporate. That's all I've tried to do is have my eyes wide open to learn about everything that I can learn about and then be able to instill the philosophy and the principles and the values that I feel will help these young become the best players, students and athletes that they can possibly can be.
It's interesting. The guy who coaches the Ravens — and just clinched his fourth straight playoff berth — created the perception four years ago that he was a hard-nosed, my-way-or-the-highway, old-school coach who stressed the team over the individual. He ruffled some feathers at the outset, but now he's a pretty popular guy. You came here and created a similar perception but haven't yet won everybody over. Is that because you haven't won yet or because you haven't done a better job of selling the Randy Edsall program?
That's a tough one to answer because that's all public perception.
So you're not a square-jawed, old-school, my-way-or-the-highway type of coach?
What I am is, I think, I'm a coach that wants to have my players achieve at the highest level they can in the classroom, on the field and as people, and every position and opportunity that I've been in, I've always found that discipline, structure, having a high set of standards has been the best way to have those young men achieve at that highest level on the field, in the classroom and as people. The one thing that I'm always going to do is I'm always going to make sure I'm upfront and I'm honest with our players because I want them to know that these are the things they have to do, and if they do them, then that's going to give them the best opportunity to be on the field playing, to be able to accomplish what they want to accomplish in the classroom and be great people. Then I think what happens, when they leave us in four or five years, they have those ingredients, they have those values, they have those morals that are going to allow them to be successful for the rest of their lives. So I think as people get to read and understand more about the program that we're putting into place here in Maryland, I think [what] people will understand is everything we are trying to do is make our players the best that they can be.
Did anything that happened during the past four months make you question your approach? Are we going to see a kinder, gentler Randy Edsall in 2012?
I guess what I would say is where wasn't I kinder and gentler this year? That's what I would say. I think there are approaches that you take from a standpoint of: Are there things that we will do a little bit differently? Yes, we will. Because, again, when you're in the position we're in and you get a lay of the landscape and you get a feel for everything that's going on and you get a feel for your players and understand your players a little bit more as far as what we need to do to sell our program a little bit more, yeah, there will be some things that will be different, but I'm not going to compromise the values of this institution and what this institution stands for and what I think is best for these young men in terms of structure, discipline, being a parent away from home, being a mentor, being a coach, being a teacher. I'm not going to sacrifice any of those. If I do that, then I'm cheating our players. That's one thing I'm not going to do. But like I said, when you make the statement "kinder and gentler," I don't think I've pulled any Woody Hayeses or Bobby Knights, throwing chairs across the floor.
Did you want to?
(Laughing.) Yeah, there probably were some times when you want to do that. But I think you can never be somebody that you're not. I just know that, in terms of dealing with our players, I see things that have happened to them that have been very, very positive. The thing that happens in this day and age, a lot of people don't want to hear some of the positive things. Everybody just wants to write the things that will create the controversy that will stand out there to create the headline, and I can give you plenty of examples of a lot of good things. But ultimately, when you are 2-10, there are going to be more things that are written that aren't going to be favorable.
I think one of the reasons that Terrapin fans were particularly frustrated was that they came into this season excited that the team had this NFL-prospect quarterback in Danny O'Brien who was going to be around for a while, and it just didn't work out that way this season for a variety of reasons. Could you just explain what you think happened there and where you see Danny going from here in your program?
I think sometimes there can be expectations upon people and sometimes there are a lot of different things that go into what can transpire. I think what happens is, when things don't go the way people would expect them to go, you've got to be able to fight through things. There are some things as we go forward, as we evaluated, the one thing I wanted to be able to do is to utilize our players and do the things that they do well and accentuate their strengths. And those are the things we will do as we continue as we move forward with our program, just do things that our players can do to the best of their abilities so our program can be the most successful.
You've already made one coaching change. Can you go over the situation with Crowton and why it transpired the way it transpired?
I can't talk about any personnel issues, and I won't talk about any personnel issues. We're in a process where we're evaluating the program, and there are things that are going to be there and some things that we won't talk about. Personnel is one of those things.
You've said many times, there's winning and there's winning the right way, that you want to win the right way in the context of Maryland football and the University of Maryland. Can you put that more specifically, what you mean by that? What is winning the right way?
I think when you take a look at some of the issues that are out there in college athletics today, in terms of schools — and I'm not going to name the schools — but I think college athletics, there are rules and regulations that the NCAA, which is the governing body of who we represent, has, and my only thing is that we have these rules and regulations and all we're going to do is follow those rules and regulations. This institution has rules and regulations that we have to follow, and so all I want to is make sure the program that I'm in charge of, the University of Maryland, plays by the rules of the NCAA and plays by the rules of the University of Maryland. That's what I mean by winning the right way.
You've taken it a step further, in that you've talked a lot about character issues, and not just following the rules, but how you shape character. Three of these players may play in the NFL and make enough money to live the rest of their lives, and the rest of them have got to go out and get jobs. You've talked a lot about that, that part of your job, whether you have two wins or 10 wins, is shaping these guys. How important is that to you as far as building a winning football team?
I think you have to have balance in whatever you do. I feel that at other places that I've been as the assistant or the head coach, we've followed kind of the same formula in terms of attracting student-athletes here that — first and foremost, because I do understand what we're judged on — have the ability to help us win an ACC championship. That's the first thing I'm looking for when I put on the film, because I know what we want to accomplish and, you know what, I want our players to understand that if they come here, our goal each and every year is that we want to work to win the ACC. I think that anytime you're in a conference, that should be your No. 1 goal. We're not going to try to win at any cost. We're going to try to get guys that have that, but then again, I think it's very important because then when you get the mission of what the University of Maryland is all about, this is an educational institution. No. 1 is finding those kids who have that ability, but then having those young men who have the ability to graduate from here and the ones that want to get a degree get an education. The statistics prove it out. Only 1 percent or 2 percent of these young men are going to have the opportunity to go on and continue their career. And then the statistics prove it out that they're only going to play in that league for four years, so the thing that's going to carry them the rest of their lives is their education and the networking and the things that they've done here at the University of Maryland. So, I'm going to make sure that we have guys who have the ability to do that, and I want guys who are hard workers because if you're a hard worker, you're going to give yourself a chance to be successful. And then the third thing is people of good character because if you combine those ingredients, you're going to have a pretty good opportunity to go and be successful in life and also to be able to make sure that you're doing a good job for your family. And again, I know you can win with those ingredients and you can win with that formula, and again, I'm never going to compromise the values and morals and what this university stands for. We're not going to do something that's going to go win a game and compromise the things this university is all about.
Last question: There are those people who say you learn more about yourself and your players from losing than from winning. Do you subscribe to that theory?
There's no question. There's no question because — you know what — some players maybe have never had adversity settle in, and some people that maybe that have never had to face adversity, and you do. It's very easy when everything is going good and you're on top of the world to watch people and see how they react, but you really find out the true character of a person when they face adversity and how they handle it. So, believe me, I've been through a tremendous amount of adversity in my career, and I think that's the thing that — when you go through a season like this — that's where I'm trying to do everything I can to help our players to understand and be able to move forward and go about the business of, hey, this is what we need to do to get better. You find out a lot about people when you go through adversity, and that measures the character of people in terms of how they handle that, because when you go through adversity, you find out there are people who just bull their neck and stay focused because they know what is going on is right. Or you find those people that when you go through adversity, who now start pointing their finger here, pointing their finger there, but never pointing their finger at themselves. What you hope is, when you go through these situations, what it does is just make you stronger as a person and you become more resolved to say, "Hey, there's no way that I'm going to let that happen again," and just keep moving forward.
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