Ben, I noticed in your Spence blog post that your early positive outlook on Edsall's recruiting so far has dampened a bit. I think that if we don't get one of the three 5-stars on the radar (which, just based on historical and general trends, seems like something we shouldn't depend on, at the very least), then this will be considerably less than an "average" class, at least from a rankings perspective. It will be one of the bottom 3 in the ACC.
To be realistic, you'd have to put us behind Penn State and UF on the list of most likely schools to land Spence; behind UF and Auburn and Miami with Diggs; and behind FSU, Alabama and others with Goldman, who may not even put us on his short list. That's just being realistic. If we pull off a shocker and land one of those guys (hey, Indiana just took a QB away from Alabama's grips, so anything's possible) then I'll happily be wrong about all this.
I'm going to go back to Edsall's introductory press conference and see what he said about upgrading his recruiting, because I don't believe this class is shaping up to be any more talented than the typical UConn class he put together. I think it might be helpful to cast this recruiting class in a more realistic light, because it's something that I (and maybe others?) view as a problem and a slippery slope in the wrong direction. We keep on recycling this rose-colored view of recruiting and a lot of people respond to any concerns by saying "just trust edsall" or "just let him do his job" or "wait to see what happens on the field."
With poorly-ranked classes at UConn, Edsall played 7 Big East seasons and to his credit he energized an upstart BCS conference program and won two conference titles, albeit in a questionable conference that many believe shouldn't get an automatic BCS berth. I would not, as some do, say he did an amazing or incredible job. In a weaker conference, he never lost less than 4 total games in a season (and only once it was 4 losses). His overall record in those 7 seasons was 50-37, and 22-26 in Big East play. His overall record at UConn was 74-70.
Now I would say he's recruiting very similar talent to Maryland and adhering to the same exact recruiting philosophy in which he lays little regard to the rankings and recruits off-the-radar prospects who he believes he can mold into players who will buy into the system and run through a wall for him.
I would also say that if he could get us the same success he had at UConn with that level of talent -- an average season of 8-5 or so and a realistic chance at a conference title once every 3 years or so when the conference has enough parity that a 2- or 3-loss team can win it -- we'd probably be satisfied, but not elated, with the state of Maryland football.
The problem is, Maryland is not UConn, and the ACC is not the Big East. We have FSU (top-5 in both real polls and recruiting rankings) in our division and play them every year. We have Clemson in the division and VT in the conference, and both would have won the Big East last year.
If Edsall matches or exceeds Fridge's 9-4 record last year, he'll be hailed as a success, but it's important to remember he'll be playing with the recruits of the prior administration, and those recruiting classes were ranked much better (in the 20s and 30s, whereas this class isn't in the top-50) than the current class we're bringing in. Success this year means Edsall can coach, which I believe he can. It has nothing to do with how well he recruits.
I think that over five years, we're in danger of dropping from a mid-tier ACC team (in both talent and results over the past several years, it's fair to say that's what we are mid-tier right now) ... to a lower-tier team.
Wake Forest is a good example. Like Edsall, Grobe recruits guys he likes but nobody's heard of. He works on them for five years, and then when he hit the mark with one good sleeper class, Wake had a good 2-year run, then disappeared. Grobe is a good coach -- everybody thinks that. But he doesn't have the talent to compete with the big boys on a year-by-year basis. I really hope that's not where we're headed.
You guys can call me negative or a hater or whatever, but it's not true. I wanted Friedgen out, I wanted Leach at first, but I liked the Edsall hire as soon as it happened and I think Edsall is a good guy and a good football coach. I'm worried about the direction of Maryland recruiting. It's the exact opposite of the direction basketball recruiting has turned. I'd like to see more concern out there about this, because I think we can do longterm damage to the program if we drain it of mid- to top-tier talent as each passing year goes by.