Randy Edsall was officially introduced as Maryland's new football coach on Monday, and among fans, he is receiving extremely mixed reviews. Edsall's press conference was a good one by most accounts, but he isn't going to win the fans' favor while in the media room.
No, he's going to earn respect based on what he does out on the field and what he is able to accomplish on the recruiting trail. He doesn't have the sizzle of other candidates, so he'll have to produce the steak if he wants to be gain popularity in College Park.
Down the line, that will mean wins. But there are a few things that Edsall can do before he even plays his first game that will help show the skeptics among the Maryland fan base that he is in fact the right man for the job. Here are five things that Edsall can accomplish (some far more likely than others) to help prove his value before the 2011 season opener.
Build A Strong Team Of Assistant Coaches And Coordinators
This will likely be Edsall's first order of business once he finishes unpacking his office, and his first opportunity to make a good impression. Luckily for him, one of the most important pieces of that puzzle is already in place.
Edsall has to do everything he can to keep defensive coordinator Don Brown. Even though they are both defensive guys who run different schemes, that players love Brown and he will be a tremendous advantage in recruiting players on that side of the ball. Unfortunately, Brown has developed a bit of a wandering eye according to some reports. Edsall has reportedly expressed interest in retaining him, so it seems totally up to Brown. But I know a lot of fans and players would be a lot more comfortable if he stuck around.
As for the offensive coordinator, it has been reported that Edsall intends to bring Joe Moorhead over from Connecticut to fill that void. It is also being reported by the Hartford Courant that Moorhead intends to stay at Connecticut unless the new head coach elects to bring an offensive coordinator with him. If he decides to come to Maryland, great. If not then Edsall needs to get a solid offensive mind and, more importantly, a solid recruiter into that spot immediately.
The final step is a suggestion you will hear from a lot of Maryland fans: bring New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley in as the running back coach/recruiting coordinator/associate head coach after Edsall's former RB coach was hired by Miami. He could even be the offensive coordinator if Edsall isn't able to find anyone else. He is a Ballou high school alum and is considered one of the best recruiters of players in the D.C. area. He was at Illinois when Vontae Davis and Arrelious Benn both chose the Illini over the Terps and is widely considered the reason why. It might be hard to lure him from a head coaching job back to an associate head coaching job, but with only moderate success as the head man out west, he may choose to be part of a winning system as opposed to the head guy of a floundering program.
At this point, Edsall needs to surround himself with people who can recruit first and foremost. He needs to make Maryland a positive place to go, and stringing together a few solid recruiting classes is a great way to do that. Edsall didn't come on board to be the only coach at Maryland. He needs to surround himself with successful people who have proven they will work as hard as him.
Get One Of Edsall's UCONN-Bound DMV To Come To Maryland
Before leaving Connecticut, Edsall had secured two players from the DMV as part of his 2011 recruiting class. Michael Nebrich, the Post's All-Met player of the year, has said in the same report from the Hartford Courant that he is still going to Connecticut and will be heading up there within two weeks. I was going to include him in this bullett point but that doesn't seem like an opportunity anymore.
The other player is Adrian Amos, a cornerback prospect from Baltimore. Amos isn't a world-beater but it's more of the principal of the thing. He is by no means a blue-chip prospect, but it would be a great sign to fans that it was Edsall who got players form this area to come up to College Park. If he can convince Amos to come with him, it shows that he is the type of coach that players really want.
Get DeMatha's Cyrus Kouandijo To Commit To Maryland
One of the best players in the high school class of 2011 plays less than five miles from Byrd Stadium and is still undeclared. Cyrus Kouandijo is the highest-rated tackle in the 2011 class and one of its premier talents. Maryland was obviously in on his recruitment, but they never really had much of a chance. Well, before Edsall at least.
I have no idea how much of a possibility this is. In fact, I'd bet that it doesn't have a very good chance of happening. But getting Kouandijo into the fold would be the strongest statement Edsall could make in the spring.
Kouandijo is considering Alabama (where his brother went last year) and schools like Miami, Iowa, USC, Clemson, Tennessee and New Mexico (man we need that Locksley guy). Obviously, not a bad lineup.
Edsall could go to Kouandijo and tell him that he has the opportunity to be a local hero and the face of the program from day one, even on the offensive line. He would start immediately and have a great opportunity to get exposure protecting Danny O'Brien's blind side and opening holes for whichever running back Edsall plans to feature. He could point to his success in molding William Beatty, a tackle that went from Connecticut to the New York Giants and played a major role for them this season. If Edsall is as good of a salesman as we have heard, it just might work. I wouldn't bet on it, but it can't be ruled out.
This would be a program-changing get. It would re-open the DeMatha pipeline (Josh Wilson and Kenny Tate) and add a true difference maker at a real position of need. This would get fans into Edsall's corner in a hurry.
Hit The Recruiting Trail Hard For The Class Of 2012
The class of 2011 is already lost for the Terps. Most of the best players in the area opted to go to Virginia, West Virginia or Virginia Tech. It's way too late to change that. But there are plenty of difference-making players in the class of 2012 that are just about to become ripe for the picking.
This is information we might not have been privy to in the past, but with the level of coverage college teams get, I have a feeling we'll know just how hard, and impressively, Edsall hits the trail over the next few months.
His target needs to be Good Counsel's Stefon Diggs. Good Counsel is north of D.C. so that should techincally be Maryland's territory over any other team. Diggs figures to be the best recruit in the area, and could be a real weapon for O'Brien if he is around that long. It also doesn't hurt to open up a recruiting pipeline at one of the best programs in the area.
Since Edsall wasn't a splash of a hire himself, he needs to make a real splash in recruiting. He might not be able to make that happen for the 2011 class, but if he can make some serious inroads for the class of 2012, I'll be pretty happy about it. I'm sure we'll hear positive things about him if that is the case.
Win The Players Over At Spring Practices
Like the recruiting thing I just mentioned, this is something we might not have had a lot of information about before the Twitter age. But with pervasive reporting and direct access to the players themselves, we should know just how well Edsall is going over in the locker room during his first prolonged exposure to the team.
Cameron Chism sent the tweet that basically made the hire official. You would expect that some of the Twitter-using players would have something to say about him during the spring practices. I don't expect them to say very much of anything bad, the team obviously wouldn't allow that. But nobody is forcing them to say anything good, so any good reviews that come out is a positive sign.
I'm sure this will also be a focus of reporters who cover the team during this period. Edsall is a disciplinarian, but he is also known to earn the respect of his players. Based on some tweets we saw immediately following the hiring, it seems as though he is on the right track. After a pretty rough two weeks to be a player, Edsall needs to remind them why Maryland is a great team to play for.
Like I said before, the thing that will make most fans come around on Edsall is winning, and that may eventually come. But he certainly has the opportunity to improve his reputation somewhat before he even hits the sideline. Some of the things I listed might be improbable, but they aren't impossible. If he can make them happen, he'll go a long way in earning the trust and support of a fan base which could certainly use some winning over.
(H/T: Testudo Times for many of the links and great coverage of every aspect of this story)