Randy Edsall has Maryland entering uncharted waters


Maryland Terrapins head coach Randy Edsall bumps fists with Maryland Terrapins running back Davin Meggett (8) before the game at Byrd Stadium on September 5, 2011. (Toni L. Sandys/WASHINGTON POST)
Sally Jenkins
Columnist February 16, 2012

Men, there are four ways of doing things aboard my ship: the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way and my way — the Randy Edsall way. Let me say this: We do things my way and no one else’s, because Randy Edsall is all about one thing, and one thing only. And that’s Randy Edsall.

Now, I realize there has been some discussion about my methods. Some of you misguided sailors think I’m small and vindictive.

Sally Jenkins is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

You may even accuse me of sounding like Captain Queeg from that 1950s movie, “The Caine Mutiny,” with my feelings of persecution, unreasonable suspicion, obsession with trivial regulations, and excessive self-regard. But in my opinion, Captain Queeg was a damn fine officer.

I want men who will shoot, and salute. I’m all about the bigger picture here aboard the U.S.S. Maryland. And at the center of that picture, standing in the conning tower, is Randy Edsall. Because when it’s all said and done, Randy Edsall is going to get this carrier moving in the right direction. And by that, I mean straight to the AdvoCareV100 Independence Bowl. See, around here . . .

Sailor, is that a shirttail I see untucked from your trousers? No liberty for the crew for three months!

I’m trying to build men, shape character, and teach life lessons. Life Lesson No.1: Exude phony authority. Act like you’re wearing khaki and shoulder boards, and that way, folks might not pay attention to lesser details, like your lousy record.

On board my ship, excellent performance is standard. Standard performance is sub-standard. And sub-standard does not exist.

Those 24 transfers who have jumped ship from the U.S.S. Maryland in the past 12 months? They weren’t committed. Quarterback Danny O’Brien, the 2010 ACC rookie of the year? He wasn’t “all in.”

The way I see it, I’m here to prepare you for the more demanding school of actual war. In war, you have to know who the enemy is. Everybody knows who Randy Edsall’s enemy is:

James Franklin.

That guy who used to be offensive coordinator here and left for Vanderbilt when he didn’t get my job. He led Vandy to a bowl invite, while Randy Edsall led Maryland to a 2-10 record. Didn’t make Randy Edsall look good. That won’t happen again. Any of you who want to leave are free to do so. Except to go to another ACC school.

Or Vanderbilt.

The enemy needs to understand who it’s dealing with in Randy Edsall. The Chief Petty Officer, that’s who.

Randy Edsall doesn’t like comparisons. When people make comparisons, they start noticing that I went 1-16 against top 25 teams at U-Conn. and never beat a school that finished the season ranked by the Associated Press. But check out my record against hats worn by my players indoors: undefeated. That’s right. A ship without good Marines is like a shirt without buttons.

Randy Edsall is a man of action, and accountability. When a player named Jordan Todman wanted to leave U-Conn. early for the NFL draft, I made him stand up in front of the whole squad and tell them face to face that he was breaking his commitment. I said, “Jordan, I think you have something to say to these guys.”

See, I’m all about maintaining discipline under small arms fire.

When Maryland offered me the job and I decided to leave U-Conn. — the school that stood by me when my record was 11-30 — I informed the team of my decision, man to man. Over a conference call. I kept them on hold for a half-hour, but I finally got on the phone and explained something to this effect: “I’m sorry I can’t do this in person, due to circumstances.”

You’ll notice that as soon as I left U-Conn. and Paul Pasqualoni took over the helm of that ship, things started slipping.

“Coach Pasqualoni has his rules, too,” U-Conn. captain Bidi Wreh-Wilson told the Hartford Courant, “but it’s not like we feel it’s something out to get us.”

Good luck getting everyone “all in” that way.

Let me say this about commitment: Nobody is more committed to Randy Edsall than Randy Edsall. That’s why it surprised me when Danny O’Brien asked for a transfer. O’Brien was so committed to Maryland that he used to drive up just to watch the Terps practice when he was still in high school.

What happened to that commitment? Undermined by nefarious dealings with the enemy, James Franklin, no doubt. What else could it be? Surely nothing Randy Edsall did. Or anything Randy Edsall said.

In closing, as I stare out over this squad room, let me say this: As long as I’m at Maryland, we’re going to continue to do things the Randy Edsall way. You’re going to put four feet on the floor. You’re going to keep a straight back. And you’re going to be the best damn empty chairs you can be.

For Sally Jenkins’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/jenkins.

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