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With hopes of upset at Ohio State over, Randy Edsall's tenure at Maryland likely is, too

When the Maryland football team tied No. 1 Ohio State early in the third quarter Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium, Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson must have been squirming a little. Or a lot, considering that most figured the Buckeyes would have long since blasted Randy Edsall right into unemployment without having even broken a sweat.

By the time the fourth quarter began in Columbus, Ohio, Anderson must have been relieved that one potential dilemma  whether he could still fire Edsall during Maryland’s bye week if the Terps pulled off an upset-of-the-century-type win or even kept the final score respectable  was off his plate.

If anything, Maryland's performance at Ohio State, in a convoluted way, justifies the looming decision to fire Edsall. Had the Terps played as they did in a 49-28 loss Saturday in earlier games against Bowling Green, West Virginia and Michigan, Edsall probably would not have entered Saturday's game as the worst kind of lame-duck coach: one who is about to lose his job six games into a season.

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Edsall became upset in his postgame news conference when asked first whether he expected to coach the team's next game, and then stormed off after being asked whether he normally shook the hand of every player during their pregame stretches. And his players didn't really react when given the chance to say their performance was in support of their embattled coach.

Maybe that's why the Terps played as hard, and as seemingly loose, as they did, knowing they didn't have to look over their collective shoulder and worry about what their head coach was thinking. Certainly, it showed in the way quarterback Perry Hills played for nearly three quarters, helping keep Maryland in a game it was expected to lose by nearly five touchdowns.

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And maybe that's why Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who has been mentioned prominently as the potential interim coach, seemed to call more of a wide-open game than most during their four years together. It was reminiscent of when the Terps were down to converted linebacker Shawn Petty at quarterback during the 2012 season.

For both the players and Edsall, there seemed to be nothing to lose.

It now appears just a matter of time before Anderson announces that Edsall has been fired and that Locksley will be on the sideline for the team's next game, Oct. 24 against Penn State in Baltimore. Expect the news to come as soon as Sunday, and probably no later than Monday, though it's still possible that the proceedings could drag out until Tuesday, the day off around the NFL.

This day seemed inevitable to many Maryland fans long before the recent one-sided losses piled up and Edsall's detractors, some of them even former supporters, piled on. Considering the way Edsall's extension this summer was structured, with a $500,000 buyout after the 2016 season, Anderson and other Maryland officials had an out if the coach didn't survive long term.

Similar to Bob Wade when he replaced men's basketball coach Lefty Driesell at Maryland nearly three decades ago, Edsall seemed doomed from the start. Many thought he wasn't the coach to take Maryland from "good to great," as Anderson predicted so regrettably at Edsall's introductory news conference.

Former Terps quarterback Boomer Esiason said shortly after Friedgen was fired and Edsall was chosen to replace him that fans shouldn't blame the new coach "because it's not his fault he's here."

Now that it appears he's gone, it will be up to Anderson to get it right this time. There's even more at stake than five years ago, when Maryland was still in the Atlantic Coast Conference and there was no $155 million project to build the Big Ten's last indoor practice facility. Unlike five years ago, Anderson will have months, not weeks, to find a coach.

There was a moment Saturday when many might have wondered what Anderson would do if the Terps won, or even went down to the wire. There might have been some uncertainty in Anderson's mind, too, given that a couple of his confidantes said he was "conflicted" about firing Edsall in the first place, particularly in the middle of the season.

That moment passed.

So, apparently, has Edsall's time at Maryland.

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