I recently received 25 pages of documents I had requested under the state's public records law related to Maryland's head football coaching search. The idea was to examine search-related travel expenses, ask questions and see if there were any surprises. I wrote a story for today's paper.
Some notes and thoughts based on the documents and interviews:
*There sure was a burst of activity in a limited time -- more than I had known. I had figured representatives went to Dallas to interview SMU coach June Jones and to the Auburn area to talk to offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. I didn't know about the trip to Jacksonville, which was something of a mystery. It turns out that Michigan was preparing for the Gator Bowl at the time (Dec. 27) Maryland representatives visited Jacksonville. Michigan was then coached by Rich Rodriguez. Do I know for certain that Rodriguez was the target of the Jacksonville trip? Nope. But I do know Rodriguez was contacted by Maryland reps at some point during the search. You can't say Maryland didn't consider some big names. Ultimately, there was a comfort level with Randy Edsall.
The period for the search was so condensed -- about two weeks -- because Maryland was racing to hire Ralph Friedgen's successor before the opening of an important recruiting period. The university was worried that other schools would begin cherry-picking members of Maryland's recruiting class before national signing day.
*I had wondered whether Maryland used commercial flights, charter flights or private planes that were donated. I found at least one example of all three. A charter flight from Arizona to Baltimore -- Edsall needed to get to Maryland in a hurry following Connecticut's Fiesta Bowl appearance -- was the biggest-ticket item I found at $37,400. Maryland said the expenditure didn't come from taxpayer dollars, and a document showed the fare was paid from an account overseen by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, which raises private funds. I'm told the original plan was for a private donor take care of that flight, but that the arrangement fell through. Hence the need for the charter.
The documents show that AD Kevin Anderson made trips himself rather than just dispatching others.
*Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank loaned a plane for some of the search-related travel. The company and the athletic director said his assistance was financial only, and that the decision to hire Edsall was Maryland's alone.