Anytime an athletic director offers a vote of confidence for a coach whose job is in jeopardy usually means one thing: the coach is about to get fired.
When an athletic director is given the chance to offer a vote of confidence and falls way short, it means that a firing is even more imminent.
Just ask Ralph Friedgen, who was given one by Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson toward the end of the 2010 season, a few weeks before the popular football coach was let go after leading the Terps to a 9-4 record and being recognized as ACC Coach of the Year.
As we and he learned then, the vote of confidence meant little.
Now it's Randy Edsall's turn. Edsall wasn't given a dreaded VOC on Thursday after there was a report that he was going to be fired after Saturday's game at No. 1 Ohio State -- barring an unexpected reversal of thinking, according to InsideMDSports.com. Instead, an athletic department spokesman told the media, "Randy Edsall is our head football coach, and he'll be on the sidelines Saturday against Ohio State."
It means that Anderson didn't want to lie to the media, as many in his position often do, to avoid telling the truth. Here's the truth: Anderson is conflicted about firing Edsall, but knows that he will have no choice if the Terps get blown out for the third straight week by the Buckeyes.
Edsall will make the trip with the Terps to Columbus on Friday for what could likely be the last game of his five-year tenure in College Park. He will even be on the plane back, though it would be a bit ironic if he is not, considering that he didn't make the trip back with Connecticut after the Fiesta Bowl five years ago when he was about to take the Maryland job.
In that case, Edsall had his cell phone patched in to the team plane to tell the Huskies he was leaving.
In this case, the players will likely know what's up if the front seat is suddenly void of their head coach.
As of Thursday night, sources who are considered to be part of the athletic director's inner circle told The Baltimore Sun that Anderson had not talked to them about Edsall, meaning that he had probably not made up his mind. One of those close to Anderson said that the idea of firing Edsall was "painful" because of the positive things he had done after replacing Friedgen.
Aside from the 22-33 record that should include one more loss after Saturday, Edsall did a good job rebuilding the infrastructure when it came to academics and recruiting. Winning football games and good public relations, not so much.
The timing of this decision couldn't be any better for Maryland, actually.
The Terps have a bye week before their game against Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 24 and fans are getting fired up -- maybe excited is a better word to use in this case -- about the start of what is expected to be one of the most exciting men's basketball seasons in memory. Everyone will get their first look at the new players -- transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon, as well as freshman center Diamond Stone -- at Maryland Madness on Oct. 17.
Though Anderson might not want to fire Edsall before the season ends, that appears to be close to happening.
A third straight blowout defeat is inevitable and so is the end of Edsall's five-year stint with the Terps, whether it's next week or even next month. Predicting that Edsall is going to get fired -- as national outlets such as ESPN and Yahoo Sports have also done -- is as easy as saying that the 34-point-favorite Buckeyes will cover the spread.