It began, innocuously enough, with a question about attendance. With Maryland preparing for its home finale against Florida State this weekend, a reporter asked Coach Randy Edsall during his Tuesday news conference about this season’s fan turnout, which has waned in recent games. While Maryland was en route to a 33-13 loss at Georgia Tech two weekends ago, the fans found the exits pretty early, leaving Byrd Stadium about half-full. Or half-empty, depending on your glass-of-water view.
Anyway, here’s what Edsall had to say in his nearly six-minute response.
I think all the fans who have come out have been great. I’d love to see the place filled this weekend. Again, to play the respects to these seniors, especially, and to the way this team has battled, how they’re handling all these things. Nobody sees it except us as coaches and players here, but these guys have come to work every day, done all the things we’ve asked them to do. That’s what I said. I’d like to see a sold-out place here, a real great environment for the last home game. The number of recruits we’ll have in here this weekend, a couple official visits, that’s really what it’s all about.
These players are going out, working to play every play like it’s the last they’ll ever play. Again, for some of these guys, they’ve got two games left in their career. That’s it. I got something from the AFCA [American Football Coaches Association] today. The numbers are staggering: 2.4 percent of college football players go onto play after college. Two-point-four percent. You got 100 guys on your roster, that’s only two guys who might be going to play football after their college career. Now, it’s 3.3 years, the lifespan of a player in the NFL. Three-point-three. It’s almost to the point now where guys won’t even play long enough to get their pension.
That’s the thing about college football, the pageantry and excitement that you have, I think we have a great game-day atmosphere that we can have. Take a look, in terms of the pregame intro, we upgraded that as the season went on. And just the little things you do for these kids given what they have to go through. Having two full-time jobs, it’s hard to be a student-athlete. Taking classes all day long at a great institution such as the University of Maryland, coming out with a degree and the job opportunities it’s going to present in D.C. and the Washington metropolitan area, for these kids to go out, come to practice and put the time and effort in to make alums, make fans, make their families happy, you just have so much respect for these kids and what they do and what they go through.
That’s why you want to see people go out there and appreciate how hard these kids work and what they’re doing. They’re spilling their guts to try to get a win and trying to do things the right way, representing themselves, their families, this institution and really college football.
It’s always a sad day as a coach, when you shake their hand and for that last home game. It gets emotional because of the attachment and ties that you build with these young men. I’ve said it many, many times. The wins are always great. That’s what we want to do. But when you have young men come into your program, and you’re with them for four or five years, some two years, and you grow and get attached to them, know the things you’re doing is to help make them better people and better students and better athletes, and to see them go out and play and get their degree that, through the growth and maturation, you played a small part in that development, that’s what it’s all about.
Senior day is always a little emotional. You feel for these guys who spent so much. Some of them, the injuries they’ve had, to keep coming back because they love the institution, love their teammates. Anybody out there is a competitor.
Hopefully we fill the place up and get as many people out there, because these kids are giving everything they have to try to make the program better, get wins and represent this institution in the best way possible, on and off the field.