Three games into his new job, Maryland football coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday that his team is not rebuilding but that he is trying to instill a new culture while addressing leftover "issues" from before he was hired.
Asked whether the team — which was dismantled Saturday by Temple, 38-7 — is rebuilding, Edsall replied quickly: "That's not something in my vocabulary."
But he said the Terps (1-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are in transition from former coach Ralph Friedgen — who was dismissed in December with one year left on his contract — to a new staff with its own standards for player conduct.
"It takes time, especially if young people aren't used to being held accountable. Or they're not used to doing things correctly all the time," Edsall said.
Answering media questions from a podium at the Gossett Football Team House, Edsall never mentioned Friedgen by name. But he referred often to Friedgen's tenure and to the climate he said existed when he arrived in January. "I'm not throwing anybody under the bus. I'm just telling you the truth," Edsall said.
The subject of Friedgen's tenure is delicate for the program because he coached for 10 years at his alma mater and his 75 wins are the third most in program history.
Most of Maryland's key players were recruited by Friedgen or his staff, although Edsall has played a number of freshmen this season. On Saturday, defensive tackle Andre Monroe become the third freshman to start on defense.
"There's probably going to be some more freshmen who will play this week" against Towson (3-0, 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association) at Byrd Stadium, Edsall said.
Edsall said he is looking for players "with that energy and excitement and that passion for 60 minutes every time they're out there." He said his team's performance against Temple had been listless.
When Edsall arrived from Connecticut, he quickly learned that the NCAA was stripping Maryland of three football scholarships because of subpar academic results in recent years, particularly the 2-10 season of 2009.
Edsall spoke Tuesday of undergoing a process to address "issues" he said he has confronted since taking over the program.
"The process is making sure everything is done right academically, because when I got here, after three days I was told we were losing scholarships because of poor academic performance," said the coach, 53, a disciplinarian from the Tom Coughlin coaching tree.
It's "making sure these kids understand the rules, because we ended up losing 2 1/2 hours off of practice time during the season because of violations that occurred here previously. It's making sure kids understand the code of conduct and how we expect them to behave, because we've had three guys get suspended already," Edsall said.
Friedgen, who lives in South Carolina, could not be reached for comment. Maryland is still paying him for the final season of his roughly $2 million contract.
The former coach has limited his comments to the media since leaving town at the end of last year, in which the Terps finished 9-4. Friedgen said earlier this year that the athletic department's academic staff was sometimes "overtaxed."
After Edsall took over, a number of players found themselves having to run early in the morning or do "bear crawls" — an exercise that begins by dropping onto all fours — because of minor team rules violations.
"There was a large number [disciplined] in the spring – a very large number," said senior defensive tackle Maurice Hampton, who has moved to a starting position because of an injury to Monroe . "He's cracking on it, he's cracking on it, and the numbers got lower and lower."
Said Hampton: "You do what he tells you to do, you will get to where you need to be."