Maryland first-year football coach DJ Durkin on signing day and what it means for the program. (Baltimore Sun video)
There's constant talk about how Maryland could be one of the best college football jobs in the country. It has a fertile recruiting ground in its backyard. It has big support from Kevin Plank and Under Armour. The university broke ground on the Cole Field House renovation project for its sparkling indoor facility. Coach DJ Durkin, who took over in December, has referred to the program as a "sleeping monster."
But how does it really stack up against the Big Ten Conference and the rest of the nation?
ESPN is taking a look at just that. A panel of five ESPN college football writers is ranking the Power 5 coaching jobs from No. 65 to No. 1 by looking at the appeal or desirability of the job. The panel considered criteria "such as location, recruiting base, budgets and administrative stability. Thoughts from coaches, agents and administrators were then solicited for feedback on the rankings."
And Maryland checks in right around where the combination of the Terps' on-field performance the past few seasons along with the off-field factors like recruiting and facilities improvement would be expected to put them: Not the worst, but not exactly close to the cream of the crop, either.
ESPN ranks Maryland as the No. 46 job in the country. The Terps headline "Tier 4" (out of five), which is classified as "building any kind of momentum -- let alone sustaining success -- is an uphill battle." The Terps are down from No. 44 in last year's rankings.
The heading for the Terps' tier is apt. They play in one of the toughest divisions in the country for a team trying to make its rise, with Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan on the schedule every fall, and the program hasn't had any sustained success since its string of 10-win series at the beginning of the Ralph Friedgen era, which was almost 15 years ago.
"In terms of talent and depth, the odds are decidedly stacked against the Terps in that equation," Maryland's write-up says.
But there's also a section for "the bright side" of the job, and it focuses on what would be expected: the proximity to good recruiting and the Cole Field House project.
In terms of Big Ten teams in ESPN's rankings, Maryland is ahead of Purdue (No. 62), Indiana (No. 58), Rutgers (No. 56), Illinois (No. 55), Northwestern (No. 54) and Minnesota (No. 47), which plants the Terps firmly in the middle of the Big Ten.
There's nothing really too shocking about it. Maryland has struggled to have success roll over. When Randy Edsall led Maryland to consecutive 7-6 seasons that ended in disheartening bowl losses in 2013 and 2014, it was the first time Maryland had back-to-back winning seasons in more than a decade. And then the Terps fell to 3-9.
But there has always been that potential. Durkin and others see it. They just face a massively uphill battle on the field.