With the start of the 2012 football season just four days away, many are wondering how Maryland will perform following a disappointing 2-10 season, an offseason of transfers, and a training camp that saw several players lost to injury. In addition to speculating about how many wins Maryland will have come December, many fans want to know whether head coach Randy Edsall will be back in College Park in 2013 if the Terps again struggle this season.
It's been one of the hot topic issues that's been debated here and across the interwebs since the 2011 season came to a horrible close; who should be blamed for one of the worst seasons in the history of Maryland football? The obvious choice has always been Edsall and while he and his coaching staff certainly deserve a large portion of that blame, other factors (injuries, poor recruiting by Friedgen, etc) also contributed to Maryland's struggles. But with a full season of implementing his program, cleaning house and recruiting under his belt, Edsall no longer has some of the excuses he did last season. Thus, another failed campaign in 2012 means taking on additional blame. But even if Maryland again struggles in 2012 as a result of injuries, a young, inexperienced offensive line, and the growing pains of starting a true freshman quarterback, would Randy Edsall be at risk of being fired following the season?
As I mentioned in our football roundtable, I don't think another poor season will result in Edsall getting fired. There are a number of reason why Edsall will likely keep his job, regardless of his record this season (unless he goes 0-12, that might be the only thing that gets him das boot). First and foremost, Edsall's contract is for six years and guarantees him an annual baseline salary of $2 million (he can earn more based on ticket sales and wins, so for now we'll just say his salary is $2 million). If Edsall were to be fired after this season, the second in his contract, he would still be due an additional $8 million. While there would probably be ways for Maryland to find money to buy Edsall out (cough *Under Armour* cough), Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has to know that he'd be run out of town for paying approximately $10 million to buy out two football coaches in just under three years, especially when his department just cut several sports teams. While that money, as was the case with Friedgen's buyout, would have no impact on the athletic department's budget, fans and the public would instantly point the finger at Anderson and claim he was mismanaging the departments finances. It would also reflect poorly on Anderson if he fired the coach he brought in just two years after making the hire.
Additionally, I think you really have to give a coach three seasons before you can determine whether or not their program is going to be successful and show results that translates in to wins. I think we as Maryland fans are a little spoiled because of the amazing success Friedgen was able to achieve during his first three seasons in College Park. I don't think expectations of making a bowl game last season were unrealistic or unfair, but we shouldn't be expecting Maryland to get back to the 2001-2003 level of performance overnight. Edsall believe that in order for Maryland to get to that level of success again, he needed to rebuild the program from scratch. I've said numerous times that I thought Maryland had a foundation in place that would allow them to be successful in the ACC, but Edsall make it clear that he wanted to start from the beginning and rebuild Maryland football his way. I think he can and will be successful doing so, if given time, but achieving results in the win column is going to take longer than a season or two.
While I think that it's highly likely Edsall will be back in 2013, that doesn't mean he hasn't made mistakes during his tenure at Maryland. We all witnessed how he initially dealt with the transfers last season. We experienced what happens when you use an offensive scheme that doesn't necessarily fit the skill set of your starting quarterback. We'll soon find out what happens when you don't bring in a reliable backup QB with experience knowing that your starting QB, with a run-first mindset, could be injured at anytime, forcing you to put the keys to the offense in the hands of a true freshman. I just don't think those mistakes are enough to get him fired, regardless of the win-loss record. When you factor in the fact that he signed a six-year contract, you realize Edsall isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
The Edsall era in College Park is likely going to last at least through 2013, if not longer. Kevin Anderson essentially hung his career at Maryland on Edsall being able to achieve success and rebuild a more vibrant and successful football program, one that can achieve success year in and year out. That's why he made a six year commitment to Edsall when he signed him last year. If Edsall goes down, you have to think Anderson is going down with him. I'm hopefully that our beef with the football injury gods is finally over and that, thanks to great recruiting, Maryland football will one day soon be winning more games then the lose. And even if that day doesn't come in the 2012 season, I think Randy Edsall will still be patrolling the sideline in 2013.