Randy Edsall introduced as Maryland's football coach as questions over Mike Leach remain for some fans
Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 12:16 AM
Kevin Anderson has roiled the passions of numerous Terrapin supporters with his first major moves as Maryland athletic director, first in firing Ralph Friedgen and then for not bringing in the popular favorite as a successor.
But in introducing the school's 34th football coach on Monday, Anderson made clear that he got the man he wanted most, and Randy Edsall declared he had landed his "dream job."
Edsall's selection, announced Sunday night, deflated those Terps fans who had expected a coach with a bigger name and more impressive credentials to succeed Friedgen, who was fired with one year remaining on his contract shortly after being named ACC coach of the year for a second time in 10 years.
Nonetheless, while numerous boosters chafed Monday over the fact that Mike Leach, the controversial architect of Texas Tech's high powered offense "got away," it emerged from interviews with several sources close to the process that Leach, the only other man to interview on the College Park campus, was never the leading candidate. In the view of Anderson and top university officials, Edsall was the more impressive candidate.
Monday's proceedings offered an opportunity for Anderson, on the job since Oct. 1, to explain his choice and for Edsall, 52, to articulate his vision for injecting new life into a football team that struggled to find an audience despite a 9-4 record.
Anderson made his case first, citing Edsall's success in leading Connecticut from NCAA division I-AA team to two-time Big East champion over his 12-year tenure. Connecticut capped its 2010 regular season record of 8-4 with a 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, the Huskies' first BCS berth in school history.
"This man is a builder," Anderson said. "He's a winner. And he's a champion."
Edsall called the opportunity to become Maryland's football coach a "dream job." Donning a red Maryland baseball cap, he recounted his many ties to Terrapin athletics despite his Pennsylvania roots and Syracuse education. Among them: The fact that he grew up 70 miles away (Glen Rock, Pa.); the fact that the first college football game he attended was at Byrd Stadium (Maryland versus Villanova in the 1970s); and the fact that his brother was a longtime ACC basketball official who more than once called a technical on Maryland's Gary Williams.
As for the task ahead, Edsall said he had come to College Park to win championships.
"We may not get one every year," Edsall said. "But we're going to work our darndest every day to get there, and we're going to work out darndest to be the best we can be in the classroom and the best we can be as people."
Moreover, Edsall promised that he and his staff would conduct a grass-roots campaign to embrace and energize Maryland supporters statewide.
"We want them to be proud of their state institution," Edsall said.