There was a questionable forecast for Thursday night, making an evening boat cruise out of Annapolis an uncertainty for Maryland football coach Randy Edsall and a couple of his counterparts who came from College Park to schmooze with fans over dinner and drinks.
But the winds settled and the luxury yacht "Catherine Murray" took off for a smooth hourlong sail on the Severn River. After a rocky start to his tenure with the Terps, Edsall should hope that the second installment of the school's "Coaches Caravan" portends well for his third season and beyond.
Asked what he hoped to get from the evening's festivities, Edsall said, "The reason I like to do these is it gives us a chance to get out and touch people one-on-one, face to face. You can be a little more intimate with the fans and with the donors than what you can in some other settings."
Joined for the cruise by two of the school's most successful coaches — field hockey coach Missy Meharg and men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski — Edsall knows that the best way to create interest in his program is to win, and that a 6-18 record over his first two two years is not going to do it.
But Edsall believes that despite the slow start to his tenure at Maryland, things are on track.
"I really like the course that we're on," Edsall said. "We had a plan when we came in here in terms of what we wanted to do. We knew it wasn't something that was going to happen overnight. Sometimes people just want to look at the wins and the losses, and I understand that's what most people want to look at. ... If you look at the totality of our program, we're on schedule. I like where we're at."
Bill Nixon, of Davidsonville, a 1982 Maryland graduate who attended Thursday's cruise, said he thinks Edsall has received a "bum rap" given what he inherited from previous coach Ralph Friedgen. Nixon believes the Terps are making progress despite their record.
"The third year for a coach is very important," Nixon said. "It's going to be tough for him. He could wind up like [former coach Ron] Vanderlinden. ... I think he'll rebound. It'll depend on the quarterback. ... I think they're heading in the right direction."
Edsall understands that this is a critical season for his program, particularly considering that the Terps are transitioning to the Big Ten in 2014. Qualifying for a bowl game — which might have happened last season had Maryland not lost four quarterbacks to injuries and wound up losing its last six games to finish 4-8 — is part of that progress.
"That's exactly what we've got to be doing. We want to get to a bowl game. We hope that we don't have things that happen during the season that could really hurt that," Edsall said. "Our whole objective is to get to be a bowl game, to win our side of the conference and be able to compete for the ACC championship."
With last week's announcement of the 2014 Big Ten schedule, Edsall knows what's in store in another year.
Though he won't admit that moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten is a huge leap — "You've got to be careful what you say because we have one more year in the ACC," he said — Edsall acknowledged that the team's inaugural slate in 2014 "is a very daunting schedule".
Edsall then smiled.
"But you know what, the kids we have in our program and the kind of kids we're recruiting, that's what they want," he said. "That's the kind of challenge they want, and that's the kind of challenge I want as a head coach where you have to play the best week in and week out."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun