Coach Randy Edsall brings a finely crafted plan to Maryland football

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 26, 2011; 1:40 AM

When Randy Edsall was a boy, he had a newspaper route, but more important he had a specific manner in which he was to execute the delivery. He could place the paper at a doorstep or in a mail slot - whichever the homeowner preferred - but simply chucking the rolled-up paper onto a front porch was out of the question. His father would not accept such indolence.

Edsall, 52, now is in the business of delivering wins rather than community updates, though paying meticulous attention to process remains paramount. His unshakeable confidence is based on a belief in detailed preparation. Edsall and those who know Maryland's new football coach best believe he will succeed in College Park because his way consistently has delivered results.

It was no small irony, then, that Maryland's decision to hire Edsall away from Connecticut, where he'd transformed a division I-AA afterthought into a division I-A Bowl Championship Series qualifier, initially was met with a wave of apoplectic shock by fans that craved - or at least expected - a more alluring successor to former coach Ralph Friedgen.

In the coming months, Edsall will attempt to woo Terrapins followers with character traits - reliable, calculated, organized - better suited to molding steady foundations than to filling seats and luxury suites in an often lonely stadium on fall Saturdays.

Seated in an office that looks out into Byrd Stadium one recent weekday, Edsall said his methods might not arouse the masses, but he's convinced the end product will.

"People are entitled to their opinion, and a lot of people are going to have knee-jerk reactions to things because they have something set in their mind," Edsall said. "They can say what they want to say. . . . If you take a look at my record and what I've done and things like that, I think substance is more important than glitz or glamour, okay? Because to me, substance wins out in the long run. And that, to me, is really what it's all about. . . .

"To me, it's just about having a plan, working hard, executing that plan and making sure that the people that you surrounded yourself with know that you care about them and that you're going to push them to a level that they never thought they could get to."

Inherited traits

For Randy and Duke Edsall, brothers separated by 19 months who nearly always played on the same teams, the drill following every athletic event in which they participated as kids was the same. They would retreat to their Cape Cod-style cottage on a hillside above the valley that contained their diminutive home town and gather around the kitchen table.

And for the next several hours, Dick Edsall would dissect his boys' performances.

A promising baseball prospect out of high school, Dick was offered a minor league contract by the Baltimore Orioles. But by then, he had a wife (Barbara) and a baby daughter (Diane) to support, and the baseball pay was not sufficient. Instead, he took a job at a local steel factory, where he would work for more than 34 years.

Dick saw in Randy - the superior athlete of the three Edsall children - the athletic potential he once possessed, and so he took measures to foster that growth.

"It was never about what you did right; it was what you did wrong," Duke Edsall said of those kitchen table meetings. "We broke down every play. . . . He just wanted us to be as good as we could be, and that was with anything. If you cut the yard wrong, he'd be all over you about that. That was just his way."


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