Randy Edsall was formally introduced as the new Maryland football coach in a press conference earlier Monday, and the theme was very easy to spot. For those wondering why athletic director Kevin Anderson hired Edsall instead of a more high-profile candidate like Mike Leach, there was a clear answer from both men. Edsall simply wanted to be at Maryland more than any other coaching candidate.
"Randy [said] that Maryland's head football job was his 'dream job,'" Anderson said. "In his career of being a coach, Randy wanted to be the head coach at the University of Maryland. There was no one that came forward and said 'I wanted to be the head football coach at Maryland, and that was my dream job,' other than Randy Edsall."
"This is a dream job for me. This is the dream job," Edsall said. "It's not every time in your life that you get to go and have an opportunity to do something you really wanted to do once you entered the career field that you chose."
Anderson referred repeatedly to Edsall's credentials, both at Connecticut and elsewhere. Noting that he has experience taking a program or a team from the ground up, Anderson cited several facts to prove his point. He pointed to Edsall's presence with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in the mid-90s, as well as his time at Connecticut.
"Nobody in the history of football has taken a I-AA team to I-A and gone to a BCS Bowl Game in seven years," Anderson said, noting Connecticut's presence in this year's Fiesta Bowl. "Think about it. This man is a builder, a winner and a champion."
Edsall reaffirmed the desire to win at all costs.
"I came here to win championships. That's why I came here. I'm a coach, and I want to win at the highest level. If we're going to put in the effort and time we do as coaches and these young men do as student athletes, every year, our goal is the ACC championship. We're going to shoot for that every year. Otherwise, there's no sense in being here."
Anderson confirmed that Leach did come in for an interview, and that he was the only other coaching candidate willing to do that. When asked what happened with Leach that triggered his decision to offer the coaching job to someone else, Anderson said that he had a "wonderful experience" with Leach, but he wanted to wait for "more opportunities."
"I had a wonderful experience with Coach Leach, but I believed there were other opps that I wanted to pursue, and I pursued them," Anderson said. "Fortunately, we waited long enough for Randy to become part of our pool."
When asked what he would say to Maryland fans that may be upset at the hire, Anderson said, simply, "we got a damn good football coach."
Edsell, meanwhile, stressed the importance of building up the fan base beyond the on-field results. He sported a Maryland cap for the beginning of his remarks, but then took it off once he realized he had asked his players to take off their hats on Sunday in his introductory meeting with them. He said he wanted to embark on a "grassroots effort" to build up the fan base, noting his success doing so at Connecticut.
"Winning is a big part of it, but we didn't have a fan base at UCONN. We created a fan base. You go out and you become visible. You go out and you speak. You get out there and spread the word. I look forward to working with all the people here to get that message out and to be out in the community."
In case you were wondering, Anderson mostly dodged the question over whether he was surprised by the fan reaction to the hire. He did say that it was his decision alone, and did thank Ralph Friedgen for his work to kick off the press conference, saying he "truly laid the foundation" for the future of the program.
Edsall, meanwhile, did his best to show his excitement about being the program's next head coach. He was asked about the future of Maryland's series with teams like West Virginia and Navy and whether there might be a game scheduled with Penn State. In response, he affirmed one thing very clearly: they will only accept home and home games.
"We're the University of Maryland. We don't play two for ones."