CHICAGO — As the Big Ten Media Days got underway Monday morning in Chicago, Maryland Coach Randy Edsall relaxed on the fourth floor of the Hilton — above the circus on the two floors below — and reflected on what has been an interesting summer.
There were the traded barbs with Penn State Coach James Franklin in June, the same month Maryland netted 13 commitments from recruits across the country. There was the pageantry of the Big Ten move on July 1, and last week he and the staff heard explosive comments from Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose.
Edsall had brewed up his own storm recently with his own comments about the ACC, in which he said he believed he was joining a “football conference” in the Big Ten.
“I’ve been coaching for over 30 years and been a part of four conferences now,” Edsall said. “I’m very passionate about football. You know means, in terms of the development of everyone else. All I’m looking to do is do the best I can for our guys. I just worry about what I think is best for us … I don’t worry about what other people think, what other people say to me I don’t worry about that. I just worry about what I think is best for our program, for our kids and I just try to conduct myself in a way that I’m going to promote Maryland and promote our kids and promote the game the best way I can.”
Edsall acknowledged this roster may be the best he’s had during his four years in College Park, but success hinges on the team’s ability to stay healthy. That has been a primary narrative the last two seasons, and it was highlighted by the three players who traveled to Chicago to meet the media. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, quarterback C.J. Brown and cornerback Jeremiah Johnson have all suffered catastrophic injuries in the past two seasons, and their optimism collided with the new feeling of the Big Ten.
“I wouldn’t really compare [the Big Ten and ACC],” Diggs said. “It’s a good position to be in … we have some big games on our schedule.”
Prior to his press conference Monday morning, Edsall also touched on the small differences of the two conferences on the field. But he treaded carefully, perhaps a natural instinct after a summer full of jabs and games. He called the spring and summer a “whirlwind.”
“Football is football. You’ll see some team that will want to run the ball more and some that will want to spread you out more. And maybe in one conference there’s more people that will spread you out as opposed to more teams that will maybe line up in two tight ends and one back and do those sorts of things,” Edsall said. “But there’s only so many things you can do. And I think it’s just people might think because of where the schools are located that it’s three yards and a cloud of dust.”