Terp Nation Reacts to Head Coaching Rumors

TSR's Sam Spiegelman opens up with the first edition of his blog "Spiegs' Spot". In this edition he gives his opinion on the Terps hire of new head coach Randy Edsall

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Twitter: @samspiegs

A quiet Sunday afternoon was abruptly interrupted with the official word that Connecticut’s Randy Edsall was named the new head coach for the Maryland Terrapins.

The rumor mill finally came to a halt when it was clarified Edsall interviewed for the position Sunday night, just as other candidates Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn did in the past week. There will be a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m. to make the announcement official

Edsall, the 12-year head coach of UConn, is well respected for his work transforming the Huskies from a Division 1-AA program to a two-time Big East champion. On Saturday, UConn faced off against Oklahoma in the Tostitos BCS Fiesta Bowl, coming up short in a 48-20 defeat.

Since Ralph Friedgen’s contract was bought out by the athletic department, the most prominent name linked to the vacant position was Leach, the former Texas Tech head coach who was considered the favorite because of his relationship with former Terp and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, also a Maryland booster.

Malzahn, the offensive coordinator of national championship game-bound Auburn was considered the other frontrunner for the job. He declined an offer to take the head coaching gig at Vanderbilt weeks earlier. Former Maryland head coach in waiting and offensive coordinator James Franklin accepted the same position, prompting the coaching carousel taking place in College Park.

When the rumors began to swirl of Edsall leapfrogging both Leach and Malzahn in the race, the pulse of Terp Nation suddenly skyrocketed. The fans were discontent and they let their thoughts be hard. Here were the top three complaints I heard via Twitter about the possibility of the Huskies head coach moving south.

Randy Edsall is not an upgrade at the position over Ralph Friedgen.

I agree with this assessment 100 percent. Of course was Edsall has accomplished with the suddenly relevant UConn football program is admirable, Friedgen worked similar wonders with the Terrapins since he took over. Edsall is 74-70 since taking over the Huskies in 1999; Friedgen is 75-50 since 2001.

Factor in that neither the Big East nor the Atlantic Coast Conference areis powerhouses in college football. The Big East is especially down though considering UConn represented the conference in its BCS bowl this year after finishing 8-4 in the regular season.

In his time with the Terps, Friedgen revitalized a program a program considered to be in its darkest era. While Maryland has underachieved, they have been a consistent factor in the postseason. Friedgen owns a 5-2 record in bowl games.

If Kevin Anderson wanted to energize the fan base, Edsall is not the answer.

If the athletic department was not satisfied with the fans coming to support the Terps at Byrd Stadium each Saturday, then why settle for an Edsall-led team? Edsall is a part of the Tom Coughlin coaching tree, and if you have ever watched the New York Giants play it is the traditional “run the ball” and “play defense” motto.

The upside to bringing in a Mike Leach is that he is a proven winner, in the Big 12 Conference nonetheless, and his Air Raid offense is high-flying and exciting to watch. Malzahn, also an offensive guru, runs an up-tempo offense. He masterminded prolific offenses with both Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, as well as in Arkansas with the advent of the Wildcat.

Mike Leach, Gus Malzahn or fail for the Terps.

Before Friedgen got the boot, Leach had been connected to the Terps head coaching job for years. When the buyout was announced, Leach was presumably the frontrunner and everything seemed to be pointing to the former Red Raiders head coach taking helm of Maryland.

Reports earlier in the week had stated Leach was interested in the job and had a successful interview with Anderson. It seemed the Leach hire was imminent.

The proven resume of Leach or the hot commodity that Malzahn has become were both exciting scenarios for Terps Nation. Edsall’s record is also very impressive, but not as appreciate by fans of Maryland who have seen a similar story play out in College Park for the past decade.

Sure, Edsall is a winner. Friedgen is a winner, too. But if you are going to replace a legend in Friedgen you have to do it with the right coach – one that will make a splash. If Edsall was the answer Anderson was seeking, he may have severely let down Terps Nation.


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