First, a word about media access to Maryland players this season: The athletic department chooses to make a few players available to media members on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Which players speak is a decision made by either the sports information department or Coach Randy Edsall. All of my requests this regular season for players, including for some who I have told have been disgruntled, have been denied. I do feel it is important to keep the aforementioned context in mind while reading the rest of the blog post.
One of the players Maryland made available to speak with reporters Wednesday was kicker Nick Ferrara, who says he has totally bought in to Edsall’s philosophy and that he has never been happier. (Ferrara had not been made available to reporters for at least several weeks, he said.) Among the interesting Ferrara quotes was this on the locker room divide: “At this point, it’s not like two sides of the cafeteria – this side is buying in, this side is not. People are keeping it to themselves. No one knows who is going to go [transfer], who is going to stay, who is feeling which way.”
Another player Maryland made available Wednesday was wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, a junior who said he will graduate this December and that he would be back next season. Among the interesting Dorsey quotes was this: “You had a group of people who were not all the way in and another group that was. And things change over time. If people change their mind-set now, it just sucks that it has taken this long.”
Ferrara and Dorsey helped illuminate what several people in and around the program told me has been the issue of a splintered locker room for much of this season. To that point, some players, as I have reported, have been disgruntled with Edsall. And I have also reported that there are rumblings that some underclassmen will seriously consider transferring after the season. I addressed all of those issues with Ferrara and Dorsey. Here is a portion of the two Q&As:
Q: How difficult emotionally has it been to be a part of this season after the success the team had last season?
Ferrara: No one likes to lose. Losing is just difficult. Things are different and, in my opinion, in a better way. Academically, our team has never been this good. We are not getting in trouble nearly as much as we did. A lot of our heads are screwed on straight a lot more than what it was. Everyone looks at it wins and losses. To me, there’s a lot more than that. Coach actually cares about us as players and as people.
Q; So you are on board?
Ferrara: With everything. 100 percent. If you take Nick Ferrara from last year and how I was with everything, I am a completely different person now. My parents have even said it. At the hotel before the game, my parents went to go give me something. And Coach Edsall said, ‘Is that your parents?’ He literally ran out of the hotel and went to talk to them. That never would have happened before. It’s a lot better. Record-wise it’s not. But that will come.
Q: Is your feeling universal among teammates?
Ferrara: The perfect way to explain it is that the cream will rise to the top. There’s always going to be people who are lazy, and always people who don’t want to do the right thing. People want that want to buy into it, that want to get it done to win, will be here and will play.
Q: To the point of people buying in, are you concerned that some prominent underclassmen may transfer?
Ferrara: They won’t be a part of what good is going to happen here. Simple as that. They don’t want to be here, then see you later. Honestly, I don’t feel any sadness toward that.
Q: Regardless of who they are?
Ferrara: I don’t care if they are a starter or the worst person on the team. I am agreeing with Edsall. I want the best people here who want to play and want to be here. We don’t need cancers on the team.
Q: Are those who have not bought in this year bringing down the rest of the guys?
Ferrara: I don’t think they are bringing down the rest of the guys because I don’t feel the other guys are buying into what they are saying. Each individual has his own beliefs, and I feel that’s how it is with our team right now. The guys who are buying in are [inaudible] together, which is good.
Q: What is the split like, what percentage of people are buying in, what percentage have resisted?
Ferrara: I really don’t know. At this point, it’s not like two sides of the cafeteria – this side is buying in, this side is not. People are keeping it to themselves. No one knows who is going to go, who is going to stay, who is feeling which way. It’s just try to play and finish out the season with three more wins . . . if they don’t want to buy in, see you later. I’ll be glad to wave them away. I would not be upset. Because I want to win and I want to do it the way we are now because academically and as a person I have never been happier. I feel good about myself right now.
And here’s Kevin Dorsey:
Q: Are more people getting on board now with Edsall’s philosophy?
Dorsey: I definitely feel more people are getting on board now. I with they would have gotten on a little earlier, some results would have been different.
Q: Do the struggles this season illustrate how difficult it is for a team to win when everyone has not bought in to a coach’s philosophy?
Dorsey: Yes, definitely. If you are winning, some of the mistakes are kind of brushed over. When you are losing, everything is emphasized, whether it’s a guy not buying in or missing a block or simply not doing what the coach asked him to do. It shows up in the game.
Q: At its worst this season, how divided was the locker room?
Dorsey: I don’t know if I can put a scale on it. But you had a group of people who were not all the way in and another group that was. And things change over time. If people change their mind-set now, it just sucks that it has taken this long.