Randy Edsall should be fired — today.
There are all sorts of reasons why such a conclusion can be labeled rash and overboard. For one thing, Maryland is in a financial crisis right now, one that has forced it to announce plans to eliminate eight varsity sports at the end of this school year. Adding a tab of $2 million per year for the next five years to pay someone not to coach the football team sounds ludicrous.
What’s more, it is unfair to judge a coach—good or bad—on the basis of one season, no matter how horrific it may have been. Maryland went from 9-4 to 2-10 this fall, losing its last seven games by double digits, culminating with the extraordinary meltdown at Carter-Finley Stadium.
And yet, if Anderson finds the right replacement, spending $10 million over the next five years to get Edsall out of Gossett Team House will absolutely be a financial plus.
Here’s why: If Edsall stays, attendance at football games next season will be even worse. Contributions to the athletic department, already down in recent years, will plummet. Any recruiting successes in February will not offset the anticipated exodus of players on the current roster.
Beyond that, the athletic department will face more cuts if the football bleeding isn’t stopped quickly. To quote Barry Gossett, a member of the committee that recommended the cutbacks: “Without success in football and basketball, we’re not going to have a great deal of income to work with.”
Anderson might not deserve full blame for the Edsall hire because many believe he was ordered not to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who certainly would not have gone 2-10 and could not possibly have offended as many people along the way as Edsall has.
In all likelihood, if Anderson told Edsall he was out, he would be able to negotiate a buyout that would allow him to coach somewhere else. Given his ego, Edsall will certainly want the chance to prove that his time at Maryland wasn’t really who he is as a coach.
Here’s the real reason Edsall should be fired: He doesn’t get it.
He didn’t get it a year ago, when he didn’t have the class to tell his Connecticut players in person that he was leaving. He didn’t get it when he started spouting off about rules as if he had invented the idea of discipline.
Here is what one fairly successful coach said about rules: “I don’t have any rules. The way I figure it, if I can’t communicate to my players the difference between right and wrong without a list of rules then something’s wrong with me. I let the older guys make it clear to the younger ones what they can and can’t do and should and shouldn’t do. If someone does screw up, then I tell them they screwed up and decide how to punish them.”