Doesn’t matter. While Anderson may know Edsall’s true intent, Maryland fans know only what the coach says publicly. Edsall has prohibited assistant coaches from speaking with reporters. Media access to players is more limited than under Friedgen. The majority of Maryland’s message is coming from Edsall. It’s on him to get it out correctly. The person chiefly responsible for re-energizing the fan base shouldn’t also be the one to demoralize it.
One player, displeased about what he perceives as Edsall’s overbearing image rules, has spoken out against them anonymously. A degree of rumbling was inevitable because regime change is messy by nature, and “when you have new leadership, there are changes,” Anderson said. “Sometimes, people get frustrated.”
That’s true, which is why the most successful coaches, after taking new jobs, do their best recruiting work with players already in the program. They share their vision, usually with a few key upperclassmen, encouraging them to help spread the word. That doesn’t mean everyone will go all in on a coach’s plan. Peer reinforcement always helps, though.
Maybe Edsall tried. If he did, it’s time to give it another shot, because he can’t simply replace the whole roster with free agents next season. This isn’t the NFL. He can only accomplish so much in one recruiting cycle.
The majority of Maryland’s players came to play for Friedgen for four years, so some of them may be less than giddy about their new reality. As the highest-paid adult in the room, Edsall has to bring them together.
Edsall faces another big test in how he resolves the quarterback controversy he created last week, benching O’Brien in favor of sophomore C.J. Brown in the loss to Georgia Tech. Compared to how he performed last season, O’Brien has not played well. The reality is, maybe he’s a bad fit for offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s system.
Still, if Edsall chooses Brown to start against Clemson, the man who replaced the ACC’s coach of the year would be choosing to bench the ACC’s rookie of the year. Should that happen, Edsall would give his strongest indication yet that this is his program.
Seasons hinge on such choices, and Edsall either needs his decisions to work out better or he needs to learn how to explain them more deftly.