2015. A magical year, assuming we get there. The planets will quite literally align - the Earth, Venus (it's sister), and Jupiter (the largest planet) will all be in a line on July 1. Depending on your gullibility, World War III may begin. And Maryland sports will look vastly different than it does today.
As requested by reader aMo, I decided to take a look at what Maryland athletics may look like far in the future. Obviously, this isn't supposed to be analytic - there are simply far too many variables in the next 1826 days to do any real predicting. Rather, it's supposed to be a little fun and exploratory. It's highly likely Maryland will have two new coaches within the next ha'-decade. If nothing else, it'll be fun.
Gary Williams, bless his heart, may not have too much longer as head coach at Maryland. His teams are performing inconsistently, the stress is unbelievable at that position, and he's already almost 65. I have no doubt Gary wants to coach forever, but he's already the 7th eldest coach in America. At 70, you have to wonder if his effectiveness will wane, or if he even wants to spend hours traversing America and watching game tape.
With that in mind, I'm not expecting Gary to be heading into 2015 as head coach. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be the head man, but I'd be surprised if it was that long.
So, who could be a possibility to take over? First, we should probably identify the criteria as coach. He would preferably be young and energetic. He should also, however, have some measure of success and experience at a high-major level. With everything we've talked about in the shoe politics world, it would be good to get someone who hasn't leaned on Nike heavily. That may be less of a problem with younger coaches, because they haven't had enough time to really establish heavy relationships. Regardless, an Under Armor coach would be appreciated.
On the flip side, what can Maryland expect to get? I, personally, still consider Maryland to be a top, elite program. Remember, Tom Crean had his pick of jobs and ended up at Indiana, a program in decline marred by issues. It takes a long time to drop a level, and you can bet that coaches remember when Maryland was on top of the world not long ago. Likewise, one or two solid seasons, ala Oklahoma, Memphis, Missouri, or Florida, does not make a program elite. It makes them good, but not elite.
So, with that in mind, the dream candidates would be a guy like Jeff Capel. I'm pretty certain he'll wait on Duke, but football is and always will be king at Oklahoma. The ACC is a huge draw and he grew up on Tobacco Road. I doubt he'll stay at Oklahoma for a long time. If Maryland pops up before Duke, they could make a run at him. Remember, Maryland had another legendary coach who ended up at Duke.
If they want to go more established, a guy like Trent Johnson or Mike Anderson could factor in. They've both been Nike, but that's what they have to work with. Who knows - maybe Ben Howland will be out at UCLA soon the way they're going.
The favorite at this point may be Darrin Horn. He's definitely my favorite. Working with Under Armor at South Carolina in his second season, he's put a recruiting class far better than Gary's so far (minus Terrence Ross). He's only 36, and SC is looking good this year. He took a team that had won 14 games and missed all of the postseason the previous two years and made them SEC co-champions and won 21 games.He's charismatic and very good with the media. That he's done it all with Under Armor is a big plus.
Actually, unless Horn nosedives, he might be my favorite for the job when it opens up.
As for the roster - all of Maryland's current team and current commitments will be gone. Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams will be making a nice living in the NBA as role players. Greivis might be joining them. Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes, and a few others will be overseas, probably in Greece, making very good money. Maybe Mychal Parker will find his way into the league - he has the talent to one day.
Hopefully, Sterling Gibbs and Trevor Cooney will be entering their senior years in Maryland unis as Horn takes over or solidifies his spot as coach. A few local guys you should really watch out for in the future are Sam Cassell, Jr. (2011), Mikael Hopkins (2011), Isaiah Miles (2012), and Daquan Cook (2012). Getting those guys to be Terps would be very nice. It's tough to nail any down, though - Maryland basketball recruits globally now (have a story coming up on that soon too).
I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but much of how well Maryland does will be dependent on how well Under Armor gets into the grassroots scene. If they become an established presence, everything gets a little bit easier.
Here's the fun part. Remember when we were mentioning Mike Leach as a possible HC? Stay with us here.
Ralph Friedgen likely has one more year as coach unless he can pull off a really big improvement. When he goes, Franklin will probably leave with him.
Leach is definitely not the cleanest guy in America right now and has major issues, but he's a winner and fun as hell for me. Texas Tech fans are pissed that he's gone, and I wouldn't be surprised if he easily wins the oncoming lawsuit and clears his name to some extent. He'll already be loaded, so money won't be a huge issue, and he actually received less money than Friedgen at TTU.
This really crossed my mind as I was watching the Under Armor All-American Game. They've been showing this commercial on repeat - dramatic music, cut shots of UA players, etc - and I see Eric Ogbogu (the yelly UA dude) running in Byrd, then Mike Leach walking off the field at TTU. And it clicked.
TTU was the second program to go Under Armor. Maryland was the first. Kevin Plank has to want Maryland, his flagship, to be as competitive as Oregon, Nike's flagship. Mike Leach is a way to do that. And guess what - Leach has already been with Plank. This could legitimately happen if KP signs the check.
It would be interesting at least, that's for sure. If nothing else, program interest revives quickly, and that's a very good thing.
Of course, I'm still pushing the Brian Billick idea hard. If Maryland lands either, I'll be a very happy man. Billick is one of those guys that's really charismatic, has the NFL on his resume, experience in college - he's like a more successful Pete Carroll.
Maryland has always been able to recruit receivers, and they'll be signing up to play for Leach's pass-happy system. Billick's team would be more well-rounded, but Leach would have just as high of a ceiling and, who knows, he might've learned from his mistakes in Lubbock. He wants AD support, which may or may not be present, but he also said he wants a strong focus on academics, which would be there at UMD.
There's always the lower options, too, guys like Al Golden and Ken Nuimatololo. I'm slowly being convinced both of them could be very successful at Maryland. Sadly, they're almost certainly more likely than either of two mentioned before.
Maryland's 2010 redshirts will be seniors in 5 years. We're probably talking guys like Tyrek Cheeseboro, Darius Kilgo, Matt Robinson, and a few more. Not sure how that team will stack up - this year's class has been pretty average. Bruce Campbell will be raking in dough in the NFL. So will Torrey Smith.
The top prospect in 2011 for the Terps should be Darius Jennings - he's basically Percy Harvin. Actually, Maryland is heavy on talent in 2011 - lots of big-time players. Possibilities include Sherrod Baltimore (RB), Blake Countess (CB), Vincent Croce (DT), Cyrus Kouandjio (OT), and Darien Harris (S). VA is loaded in 2011, too - guys like Curtis Grant (LB), Clifton Richardson (ATH), Dominique Terrell (ATH), and Landon Turner (OT). If Maryland really goes hard after these guys, the recruiting class could be amazing.
Just a quick, semi-related note to end on: I wouldn't be surprised if Maryland becomes UA's Oregon if they become successful - and I'm talking unis. Maybe not 80 combos, but a major redesign or two with some alternate unis wouldn't surprise me. That, like Leach, would at least revive a little interest.
So there you have it. A little preview to the future.