Edsall’s detractors, who grew more vocal as the season spiraled, painted him as an arrogant and out-of-touch authoritarian more interested in making himself the face of the program than in putting the players he inherited in positions to succeed.
All of which, according to Edsall, couldn’t be further from the truth.
“The perception of who Randy Edsall is is not who I am,” Edsall said. “It is not who I am.”
One year ago, Edsall was preparing his Big East champion Connecticut team for an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. This week, he conducted a three-hour interview during which he expressed regrets over his handling of some specific events and pledged to be more transparent in an attempt to rewrite the public narrative.
Edsall and the school know they won’t have another chance to win a football game for nine months, but they must begin to win back the hearts and minds of their fan base now.
Last week, a letter signed by Edsall and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson appeared on the program’s official Facebook page.
The letter, which called the second 10-loss season in school history “unacceptable,” appeared to be an acknowledgment of the discontent within the fan base and seemed to be an attempt at intiating a fresh start for Edsall with Maryland supporters.
The aftermath illustrated what Edsall and Anderson are facing: After many negative comments were posted — and subsequently deleted — on the Facebook page, the letter was taken down shortly after it was posted.
Problems beneath veneer
Edsall inherited a team that finished 9-4 in 2010 and returned the ACC rookie of the year, quarterback Danny O’Brien.
But a 38-7 home loss to Temple in the third game was an early indication that such success might be difficult to replicate.
Whether Edsall did more to mitigate or exacerbate Maryland’s transitional struggles is open to debate, but some problems lurked beneath the surface. More than a dozen individuals in and around the program helped shed new light on a troubled locker room. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some Maryland starters were in perilous academic situations when Edsall arrived, and despite the team making significant progress under Edsall, academics continued to be an issue for some important players throughout the season. At one point, a prominent player was caught lying about missing an important academic assignment.
In addition, multiple players were disciplined for failing drug tests, including at least one who failed multiple tests. And multiple players cursed out Edsall to his face in the Gossett Team House in separate incidents: one when Edsall met a player about academics and another when Edsall urged a player to eat in the team house.