Maryland football: where ACLs go to die

What in the world is happening to Maryland's football program? This is getting scary now. The way players are dropping down in College Park, it's like the orthopedic version of typhoid fever is sweeping through this team.

Now it's senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield who's out with a season-ending ACL tear, apparently hurt in the second quarter of the Terps' loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Hartsfield is the fifth Terp lost for the season with an ACL tear, joining quarterbacks C.J. Brown, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, along with defensive lineman Andre Monroe.

Then there was poor Devin Burns, who was moved from wide receiver to quarterback when Hills tore his ACL. Rather than suffering the same awful fate as his fellow signal-callers, Burns promptly went down with -- ta-da! -- a season-ending Lisfranc injury.

This is the kind of horrible bad-luck run that, like Haley's comet, comes along once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, it came along in Randy Edsall's lifetime. And the Maryland coach is sure suffering the consequences.

How many times must a grim-faced Edsall stand in front of the media and announce: "This is another tough loss for the program" as he will again this week with Hartsfield out?

Isn't there a limit on how many devastating injuries the football gods inflict on a program?

To his credit, Edsall has somehow remained stoic and focused -- even upbeat -- with each succeeding blow to the program -- at least publicly. Privately, he must go home every night and want to stick his head in the oven.

But the loss of Hartsfield is truly depressing. He was an inspirational force on defense and led the Terps with 78 tackles. And he becomes another fallen symbol of a seemingly-cursed team, a team that had been playing well enough to come within two wins of going to a bowl game before all the injuries.

Now it will take a miracle for the Terps to win two more games with their decimated roster, another blow for Edsall and his coaches, who had such high hopes for this team just two weeks ago.

The incredible rash of injuries has also led to wild speculation about their cause. Terp fans have blamed everything from the turf at Byrd Stadium to Maryland's conditioning program to possible over-work by the coaches.

But the more likely explanation is that this is just a freakish run of horrendous luck, something that can't be blamed on any one factor.

Something that happens once in a lifetime to a football program.

ANY football program.


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