While Randy Edsall said unequivocally Tuesday that he is not engaged in a rebuilding project as Maryland’s first-year head coach, he also suggested that the foundation of the program was laden with cracks when he was hired in January.
“When you come in with the type of program you are going to run, it takes time,” Edsall said during his weekly news conference. “Most especially if young people aren’t used to being held accountable or they are not used to doing things correctly all the time.”
Edsall gave more than a five-minute response to elaborate on earlier comments that caught some by surprise because of how he characterized the state of the program. During the postgame news conference following Saturday’s 38-7 loss to Temple, Edsall said: “This is a process we are in. It was not going to get changed overnight no matter how much I want it to.”
Some fans took exception to that statement because they didn’t feel the team needed wholesale changes on or off the field following a 9-4 season, and with the return of several key players, including last season’s ACC rookie of the year, quarterback Danny O’Brien, and first-team all-ACC defensive performer, Kenny Tate.
“There’s no rebuilding here,” Edsall said Tuesday. “You never heard that word come out of my mouth, and you never will. My expectations are that we want to win every game that we play, regardless of the situation. That’s why there are no excuses.”
Edsall referenced a handful of off-field issues that he needed to address when he left Connecticut after 12 seasons to replace Ralph Friedgen, who had been fired after 10 seasons at his alma mater.
Edsall said that three days into the job at Maryland he was told that the program would lose three scholarships because of a poor Academic Progress Rate, a measuring stick of a program’s ability to retain eligible players semester to semester.
Edsall also cited the secondary violations involving excessive weekly practice time committed under the previous coaching staff that resulted in a self-imposed penalty: the reduction of 2.5 hours of practice time per week this season.
And Edsall pointed to the need to enforce a code of conduct, noting that three players — running back D.J. Adams (one game) and wide receivers Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree (two games apiece) — have already served suspensions because of violations of team rules.
“Where there were issues, we have made tremendous strides,” Edsall said, later adding that “I’m just telling the truth. And I have been in it for over 30 years so I think I know what I am talking about. I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus. I’m just telling you the truth.”
Edsall has also said that this year’s Terrapins, who are 1-2 after their most humbling loss in at least three seasons, have an issue with some individuals playing more for themselves than for the team. While he has been trying to emphasize to players that they work very hard all year for the chance to play just 12 Saturdays, “they have not been able to comprehend that yet,” he said.
At some positions and on special teams, Edsall has not been afraid to play freshmen who display more energy in practice than upperclassmen. In all, 18 freshmen - tied for most in the ACC — are listed on the two-deep depth chart, and other freshmen could play Saturday vs. Towson.
“The expectation is that when you play that game, you play with great enthusiasm, great passion and great energy,” he added. “That’s what I want for this program. I don’t know what was expected before. I don’t know that. I just know what I expect.”
When hired, Edsall imposed team rules that included no earrings and no hats in the building, and he said that only neatly groomed facial hair would be permitted. While he — and Under Armour — introduced bold new uniforms, they did not include players’ names on the back, another nod to his team-first philosophy.
Senior defensive tackle Maurice Hampton said starting the season with Edsall felt like a fresh start to players, almost as if they were all freshmen because “he didn’t not pick favorites right off the bat.”
For some players, Hampton said, there was an adjustment period because “people are not used to being locked down so much. After a week goes by, any young guy wants to go out and party. There is a lot of social life out here, you can’t help but get caught up in it — it’s Maryland. But if you listen to him and do what he tells you to do, he is right, the prize is right there in front of you.”
After a large number of players found themselves running morning wind sprints in the spring for assorted transgressions, Hampton said, that number has dwindled.
“He is not going to pick people out of favoritism,” Hampton said. “It’s based on everything — your attitude, who you are, how you represent yourself. This is different. I feel it’s the right way to go, honestly.”
Tyler and McCree will play for the first time since being suspended Sept. 15 after Tyler was arrested and charged with second-degree assault for allegedly punching a 33-year-old man in the face. McCree, police said, was present at the scene but not involved in the altercation.
When asked if he viewed the severity of their transgressions the same because both players served the same suspension, Edsall said: “Yes, I did. And I was privy to a lot more information than anyone sitting in this room or on the outside. I had seen the evidence, watched the evidence, so I have plenty of information. The punishment given out to both of them was right for both young men based on all the information that I have.”