Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson wanted to give Randy Edsall time to turn it around, but the lopsided losses kept coming.
The morning after the Maryland football team lost at home to Bowling Green, athletic director Kevin Anderson summoned coach Randy Edsall to his office for an 8 a.m. meeting.
Anderson didn't exactly give Edsall a pep talk.
"It was more, 'Get this turned around — quick,' " said a source familiar with Anderson's message.
Following two more defeats — blowout losses at West Virginia and at home to Michigan by a combined 73-6 — Anderson met with Edsall and his coaching staff. After the second meeting with the coaches, Anderson didn't have confidence that things would improve, according to another source.
On the day that he fired Edsall midway through his fifth season with the Terps, Anderson confirmed that he had met with his former coach privately as well as twice with Edsall and his coaching staff.
Though Anderson would not talk about the specifics of the meeting, the result was obvious.
"It started back [after] the second game of the season and looked at how we played, and how we didn't show sign of progress in the way we were losing really brought this to my attention that this really needed to be addressed," Anderson said Sunday.
Naming offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Locksley as the interim coach, Anderson said that that the timing of the move was deliberate, considering that the Terps have a week off before they face Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
"When I decided this morning that I was going to make a change, I knew it was the best possible period if there is one to be able to let Michael come and prepare for two weeks going into the Penn State game," Anderson said. "That did weigh heavily into my decision."
Though it seems unlikely that Locksley will have the interim title eventually removed given the difficulty of Maryland's remaining schedule and his own 2-26 record in a little over two seasons as head coach at New Mexico, Anderson said that Locksley is more prepared for his second chance than he was for his first in 2009 in Albuquerque.
"I've seen him grow as a person, as a man and as football coach," said Anderson, who has known Locksley for more than a decade. "I think if there's anytime for Mike to take over the football program and help us move in a positive direction, now is the time.
"I'm confident that Mike's going to do the right thing for our university, for our football program and we'll move on from there…We haven't even talked about how we're going to move forward, but I expect Michael to do a great job and to be a candidate for this positon and we'll go on from there."
Others with a more impressive resume as either a head coach or high-profile assistant will likely be considered.
Among those who have been mentioned as potential successors to Edsall are current head coaches Matt Rhule of Temple, Tom Herman of Houston, Justin Fuente of Memphis, and Matt Campbell of Toledo. Herman is a former offensive coordinator at Ohio State and Rhule played for Joe Paterno at Penn State.
With a recruiting class headlined by four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., Anderson might also consider a number of offensive coordinators known for producing quarterbacks, including Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback who helped develop Marcus Mariota into a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
"We're going to open up the offense. There's things that we did yesterday at Ohio State , I think we're going to continue and embellish that," Anderson said."If you look at the great coaches, they bring that kind of enthusiasm to the game and that's what I'll be looking for and that's what we'll get."
Anderson, too, believes he is better prepared for finding the right coach than he was in 2010 after firing Ralph Friedgen.
"As we grow in whatever endeavor you're involved in, you learn certain things and what to ask and what not to ask, what to look for and what not to look for," Anderson said. "I know that we want somebody who's going to come in here and continue the work that we've done and be successful on the football field. It's very important that we have all three aspects of this program – that we have someone who'll be committed to the academic mission, developing good men and also winning on the field."
Shawne Merriman, now an analyst for the Big Ten Network, said that Edsall's inability to win consistently made his authoritarian manner more difficult for players to accept.
"It's not just Randy, it's any coach that comes in and make their own rules and implement how you want things to go and really put your foot down, you have to win," Merriman said. "You make that many changes and you want things to go the way you want them to go, and you don't win, you make it easier to be fired."
Merriman would like to see Locksley be given a "a shot" to get a second chance as a head coach despite the troubles he had at New Mexico.
"If you look at some of the biggest players who have come out of Maryland, you look at who recruited them," Merriman said. " Getting players there is never going to be a problem, it's just a situation for Coach Locksley to get an opportunity."