It appeared that former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was a shoo-in to become the next football coach at Maryland, but the school introduced Connecticut's Randy Edsall as its coach Sunday night. If Leach was the cannonball hire the fan base and alumni were calling for, what exactly is Edsall?
The news that Maryland had replaced Ralph Friedgen, the ACC Coach of the Year, with the Big East Coach of the Year hardly made waves outside of Connecticut. Well, unless you count ripples from the head-shaking and fist-clenching of Maryland fans who want Leach -- or even Friedgen still.
There is speculation Maryland didn't have the testicular fortitude to seal the deal with the sexy hire. I get that. Leach's high-scoring offense would have filled Byrd Stadium and its cash registers. But this is also the same man who was accused of making a concussed player sit in a shed and who once said his team lost because of the players' "fat little girlfriends." Edsall is the safe hire.
"[Edsall has] proven over the past 12 years that he can build a program at the FBS level," Steve Hayleck, former president of Maryland's "M" club, told The Baltimore Sun. "By all accounts he is a good coach at all aspects of the game and it sounds like he does a great job developing and motivating his athletes. And he doesn't arrive with a lot of controversy surrounding him."
Essentially, the Terps hired a younger, sleeker model of the Fridge.
Like his predecessor, Edsall made a name for himself by taking over a lifeless football program at a hoops-crazed university and building it into a winner. Edsall went 74-70 in 12 seasons at Connecticut, transitioning the Huskies from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Div. I-AA) to the Fiesta Bowl. Sure, Connecticut got spanked by Oklahoma on New Year's Day, but taking the Huskies that far was a fine accomplishment considering where they had come from.
Unlike Leach, Edsall isn't expected to reinvent the program overnight like many fans are hoping for. Instead, Maryland is looking for measured progress from the 52-year-old coach.
Edsall may eventually make a big splash at Maryland, but expect some unremarkable ripples first.