PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 08: Kendall Reyes #99, Sio Moore #46 and Lawrence Wilson #8 of the Connecticut Huskies walk off the field after losing against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on October 8, 2010 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers defeated UConn 27-24. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
He promises new unis this year - big shocker, right? - and seems pretty upbeat about the number of combinations. But he also promises that the new unis won't feature player names on the back because Edsall's "not a name-on-the-back-of-the-jersey guy."
Edsall also said the uniforms will not include players' last names on the back of the jerseys.
"I am not a name-on-the-back-of-the-jersey guy," Edsall said. "To me, it's all about the name on the front. It's all about Maryland. To me, it's about being a team and let's just worry about being Maryland and taking care of business that way. It's a team sport we are playing. It is not an individual sport."
It's a pretty unique set-up, of course. The only two situations I can think of it being used in are for tradition-filled teams - Penn State and USC - and teams in need of discipline - Miami when Randy Shannon took over. Last time I checked ... neither of those are Maryland, at least not right now. (Oh, and UConn, his last team. Perhaps we should've seen this coming.)
And though I do understand where he's coming from, doesn't this torpedo the whole reason to get new jerseys, ie coolness? New jerseys are cool. So is seeing your name on the back of one. If Maryland's trying to go the Oregon route, going the hardass, no-name way isn't really that smart of a venture.
I have to say, I'm not exactly impressed or pleased by Edsall here. Most players will be fine with it, sure. The thing is, some won't. Like it or not, some (most?) players like to see their name on the jersey. They are individuals, after all, and reducing them to a number won't work with everyone. Taking them away because it's not "your style" seems ... I don't know, a bit egomaniacal. A bit my-way-or-the-highway, for a reason I just don't understand.
It isn't going to help them play better, not in any way I can see. I don't think the players are going to forget that they exist as individual entities when they don't see their name on the back. A name is cosmetic, but in many cases it matters to the player, and to his family. Sure, football is a team game, but it's a team game played by individuals. Edsall would do well to remember that.
Unlike Penn St., it isn't a draw in and of itself. Unlike Miami, it wasn't needed for disciplinary reasons - you might remember that Shannon essentially said they have to earn the right to wear their names. In this case, it's for ... well, I guess it's for Edsall's cracked idea that removing the names will result in greater "team think" with no loss to morale or recruiting ability.
And lest you think I'm making too big a deal of it: no, it's not terribly important, although I'd be surprised if it had no effect. More important is the principle of it. Even if names ends up not being a big deal - it didn't seem to cause any problems at UConn - I'm concerned for where this leads to. It may not hurt at all, but he still made a change toward disciplinarianism(?) that doesn't seem to have a tangible benefit and may, in fact, hold negatives. It isn't an encouraging sign for a more open and fun team.