By signing Randy Edsall to a three-year contract extension, Maryland gave its football coach the job security he needed to recruit and protected itself in case the Terps take a step backward in the Big Ten Conference's rapidly-improving East Division.
In a deal the university announced on Tuesday that took months to finalize, the fifth-year coach received a $71,000 annual raise on the final two years of his original six-year contract, now worth $2.1 million a year. Edsall will make $2.5 million a year beginning in 2017.
More significantly, the 56-year-old coach signed off on receiving just $500,000 of a potential $7.5 million contract if he gets fired after the 2016 season.
Athletic director Kevin Anderson said last week that the progress the Terps have made on the field the past two seasons — they finished 7-6 each year — and the promise of a strong recruiting class in 2016 were the impetus for extending Edsall's contract.
"Every year I've been here, Randy has made progress," Anderson said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. "Going into the Big Ten last year and having the success that we did prompted me to looking into doing this extension."
In a statement released by the athletic department, Edsall said Tuesday: "I'm extremely proud of the work my players and staff have put in to making our program what it is today. It is rewarding for me that Kevin Anderson and [university president] Dr. Wallace Loh have recognized this process in getting the program headed in the right direction."
Neither Anderson nor Edsall was available for additional comment after the extension was announced.
The contract amendment, a copy of which was obtained by The Sun through a Maryland Public Information Act request, includes a raise of nearly $400,000 annually (to around $2.5 million a year) beginning in 2017 plus on-field performance bonuses, including one if the team wins a non-playoff bowl game.
If the university decides between Jan. 16, 2017 and Jan. 15, 2018 that it's in its "best interest" to make a coaching change, it would owe Edsall just $500,000. In the past, Edsall would have been paid in full had he been fired before the end of his contract. If Edsall is fired between Jan. 16, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2019, the university would not owe him any money.
Despite protecting the university in the event Edsall is fired, Anderson said he does not anticipate making a coaching change despite the football team's 20-30 record since Edsall replaced Ralph Friedgen in 2011. Anderson added that he believes the program is "heading in the right direction.".
Last year's 4-4 mark in the Big Ten "exceeded people's expectations," Anderson said. "I'm not saying mine, I'm saying people's expectations, because I don't think anybody thought we'd go to Penn State and Michigan and beat them."
Anderson made it clear last week that he is not satisfied with just having a winning record and going to a bowl game, as the Terps have done the past two seasons.
"We're going to continue to build and we're going to compete at the highest level," Anderson said.
Edsall has several performance bonuses attached to the contract amendment, including one that will pay Edsall $25,000 for leading his team to a a bowl game outside the current four-team football playoff system and another $25,000 if the Terps win. Edsall would earn an extra $25,000 for being named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
There are more lucrative bonuses for making the Big Ten championship game ($50,000), getting one of the spots in the college football playoff ($100,000) and for winning a national championship ($250,000) or being named national coach of the year ($50,000).
"Ultimately, as I've said before, when we went into the Big Ten, [Maryland did not go in] to be average," Anderson said. "We're going to compete for championships."
The commitment by Haskins, a four-star prospect rated the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 5 quarterback overall, set off a flurry of similar announcement and is expected to help the Terps land another four-star prospect, wide receiver Trevon Diggs, the younger brother of former star Stefon Diggs. An announcement by Diggs is expected this weekend.
According to 247Sports.com, the Terps are ranked 27th nationally in recruiting in 2016 — a jump of 21 spots from 2015. Maryland still ranks behind four teams in the Big Ten's East Division — Ohio State (3) Michigan State (7) Michigan (8) and Penn State (6) — as well as Nebraska (22) and Wisconsin (28).
Adam Friedman, the Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, said Tuesday that Edsall's extension should keep the momentum going in terms of attracting prospects.
"I think it impacts recruiting positively," Friedman said. "The head coach has a really hard time recruiting players if he is not signed for the next four years or through the duration of the player's career at the school.
"Last year at South Carolina, as signing day got closer, Steve Spurrier made a comment publicly that he was signed for a couple of more years and after that he might retire. His class sort of imploded and then he was resigned for a couple of more years."
Friedman, who ranks the Terps No. 22 overall and sixth in the Big Ten for the 2016 recruiting class, said Edsall "should be rewarded, two back-to-back seven-win seasons and considering how well they did in their first year in the Big Ten certainly deserves some reward along with the additional recruiting success. It's hard to put that much stock into it because so much can change by signing day [in February]."
Former Maryland quarterback Stan Gelbaugh, who still regularly attends games at Byrd Stadium, said "it's a good deal for Maryland, we keep our coach for five years and if something were to go sideways, it doesn't cost us a ton of money to end the relationship."
Gelbaugh said the Terps "performed well above expectations last year."
"I don't think you can judge anyone, Randy included, if you hamper them by making them a lame-duck coach," said Gelbaugh, who played for the Terps in the 1980s. "It wouldn't have been fair to hold him to that."
Former Terrapin Club president Colin Potts said he was "extremely pleased" with Maryland's decision to extend Edsall's contract.
"I think he's building the foundation for a high-quality program," Potts said Tuesday. "He's continually shown progress year after year in all the right things. The wins have increased, the APR [Academic Progress Rate] has increased. … He's a quality guy and he's doing everything the right way."
Former state Sen. Frank Kelly, a member of the university system's Board of Regents, said, "I think he's earned it. It sounds very fair to me, reasonable, better than some of the deals I've read about around the country."
In May, the athletic department announced that the football program has set multi-year and single-year highs for its Academic Progress Rate.
Four years after losing three scholarships for falling under the prescribed number from the NCAA, Edsall's team scored a .973 (out of a 1.000) for multiyear and .991 for the 2013-14 academic school year.
"Academically, I could not have asked for anything more from Randy," Anderson said.
Anderson said that he has been impressed with the response to Edsall and the football program from boosters and fans at recent Maryland Pride events throughout the state, including one in Baltimore on June 11.
"All the people who have come up to me and talked about how proud they are and how these young men represent the football team, the university and the state," Anderson said. "I don't think anyone can deny that the character of these kids and what we've been able to do with this football team is pretty special."