The reactions after Maryland football's 2-10 season were overwhelmingly negative, somewhat about the team in general but almost entirely about the coaching staff. But, to be truthful, the wins and losses weren't the only reason for discontent. In college sports, recruiting is half the battle, and Maryland football was lacking just as much in that category.
When the majority of the backlash occurred, Maryland seemingly lacked a strategy and certainly lacked any big-time players. At the end of last season, Maryland's commitment list was stacked with players that had just one offer and little national cache. Consider that at this point last year Maryland had four commitments, one of which would go on to decommit and none of which were nationally known commodities. Fans looked at the present (2-10) and the future (average recruiting), and the backlash was inevitable.
Yet all it takes is for one half of that aforementioned battle to turn around and the entire opinion of the coaching staff changes. That's not uncommon - look at Sidney Lowe. The only reason he has any measure of support in Raleigh, whether from the administration or the fans, is his recruiting, which is admittedly impressive. The same phenomenom may be occurring in College Park with Ralph Friedgen and James Franklin.
Maryland has always been a decent but unspectacular recruiting team. Considering that they were coming off a 2-10 year and that they rarely pull studs, the expectations for this recruiting class were extraordinarily low. Surprisingly, though, those low expectations were far exceeded. Again, last year there were four commitments at this point, the majority of which were sleepers that had no other offers or, in some cases, interest. This year, Maryland has ten commitments, two of which have received great national renown and the majority of which had other high-major offers or at least high-major interest. Two of them nearly committed to recruiting powerhouses LSU and Texas A&M.
Quite the turnaround. Whether its a product of James Franklin and Don Brown settling into their jobs or a product of renewed energy in order to save their jobs (or a combination of the two) I'm not sure, but one thing is obvious at this point: Maryland football recruiting has reached a turning point. Four of the current commitments could legitimately end up on top 250 lists.
The only possible complaint could lie in the lack of any commitments from local studs, but few national stars, local or not, have pulled the trigger yet. The class will be a success as long as they continue on their current trajectory, but if Friedgen and Franklin can figure out a way to pull two of Blake Countess, Vince Croce, Darius Jennings, Travis Hughes, Landon Turner, Dominique Terrell, Cyrus Kouandjio, or Curtis Grant - or even just one, actually - things will really start to look up.
For a comparison, look at some of Maryland's competition: the Terps have more commitments and more Rivals250 watch list commitments than Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech combined. It's still early in the process so those numbers will almost certainly start to even out, but that's quite the recruiting haul, all things considered.
One of the more interesting things about the fast start has been what the players have said after their commitments: words like "family" and "atmosphere", "faith" and "home". These are recruiting buzzwords to be sure, but that they have come up with such great regularity is telling: at some point, the coaching staff changed the atmosphere surrounding the program, and it has paid dividends. Whether its the way players give effort or the way practice itself is run, something is working.
The recruiting effort, should it remain at this intensity, will have positive consequences for the coaches. As long as they can avoid another disaster season - not a guarantee, but probably a probability - their jobs should be safe. But what I'm wondering has to do with how the fan base - that is, you and me - sees the coaching staff now. At the end of last year, there was a vocal minority (though not a minority by a lot) that wanted the majority of the coaching staff gone. Whether or not you fell into that category, I'm still intrigued to know your thoughts, because even though it seems obvious to me, I've been wrong before: how has the amazing start changed things?