By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
7:18 PM EST, December 2, 2011
COLLEGE PARK —
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson plans to meet with football coach Randy Edsall Saturday night as part of a "top to bottom" review of a football program that ended the season with a 2-10 record that Anderson called "unacceptable."
Edsall's job is safe. "There's no question in my mind I got the right guy here," Anderson said Friday in an interview.
But neither Anderson nor others connected to the program would rule out the possibility of changes to Edsall's nine-member staff following a season in which Maryland lost its last eight games.
"I am probably one of the people who hates to lose the most," Anderson said. "I didn't come here to be 2-10."
Maryland's season-ending, 56-41 defeat at North Carolina State was particularly painful to Edsall and Anderson because the Terps held a 27-point, third-quarter lead. Instead of watching from a box as he usually does, Anderson spent the N.C. State game pacing the Maryland sideline. He said he considered it part of his review to observe players and coaches up close. He then reached out to Edsall.
"We spent some time after the game, and then we spent some time on the phone," Anderson said. "We are going to get together [Saturday] night. We are going to go over everything and talk about what we thought was good and what we thought wasn't so good, and where we go from here. He has put some thoughts together. I definitely have some thoughts. We are going to review the program top to bottom and then … we'll make decisions on how we're going to move forward."
Edsall was hired from Connecticut in January, signing a contract guaranteeing him $2 million over each of the next six years. He was on a recruiting trip this week and said he was too busy to be interviewed. He has not responded to previous questions about possible staff changes, saying generically after the N.C. State game: "We've got a plan in place for what we want to do."
Maryland won seven fewer games than in 2010. The team's last seven defeats were by double-digits.
Edsall arrived from Connecticut with a set of rules — such as no ballcaps or earrings in the Gossett Football Team House — designed to make sure players behave properly off the field. He has said such rules are basic and that he believes they have been given too much media attention.
Anderson's support of Edsall is rooted partly in the shared belief that players needed such structure and needed to improve academically — particularly since the NCAA has emphasized tying academic performance to postseason play.
"This is their job interview," Anderson said. "I can't allow them to come in with their pants down on their ankles, their hats cocked, and not sitting up and looking me in the eye when I'm talking because that's not what life is all about. [Ravens coach] John Harbaugh demands the same things from their guys as Randy does."
Interviewed in his Comcast Center office, Anderson said he understands fans' frustration over losing so many games. He said he feels it, too. A former football player at San Francisco State in the 1970s, he said he hates losing so much that he must temper his emotions. "It's not good for me to see or talk to anybody after games after we lose," he said.
Anderson came to Maryland after holding the same position at Army. In 14 months, he has already hired a football coach and a men's basketball coach.
His worst moments here may have come when he received a letter from somebody in January saying "they were going to blow up and burn my house with my family in it. The police went and knocked on the door and a gentleman answered and said, 'You must be here about the letter.'" No charges were filed.
Anderson said he would have been more alarmed about the 2-10 season than he is now "if we didn't have any injuries, if we weren't going through a [coaching] change, and particularly if we hadn't lost three very good wide receivers. I would be going bananas." The team lost eight potential defensive starters to injuries at various points in the season. Its best receiver, Torrey Smith (Ravens), graduated and the remaining receivers were disappointing as a group.
"I think the light at the end of the tunnel is we played a lot of underclassmen — a lot of people that hadn't been on the field before" who can be expected to improve, Anderson said.
Maryland ranked last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in defense, surrendering an average of 34.2 points and 457.2 yards per game.
"I realize we owe the fan base more than what we did this year," Anderson said.
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