I've been to the first game of every MD coach since Lou Saban replaced Tom Nugent in 1966, up until Edsel. There have been a lot of clunkers along the way, but the winners have always shown their mettle from day one. Winning oozed out of them.
In 1974 Jerry Claiborne took over a disastrous program from Roy Lester (7-25) and took us to the Peach Bowl his first year. He then dominated the ACC for years. When Claiborne (77-37) left for Kentucky, he was replaced in 1982 by Bobby Ross (39-19)—the best coach since Jim Tatum, IMO. Ralph Friedgen's first year in 2001 was legendary. He was fired unceremoniously after 10 years with a 75–50 record and after winning his last game in a Bowl. I can't help but wonder, what if....?
Anyway, here's the point.
Everybody knew we had the real deal with all three—out of the gate! That was never true for Ward, Krivak, Lester, Duffner, nor Vanderlinden. And it's not true for Edsel. We wanted to think they were the right guys; we wanted to support these coaches, and we did with half-ass excuses, and a lot of hoping over a lot of beers. But they were losers. Not bad people; but losers. We always knew it.
By the by, I think the most memorable loser of the bunch was Mark Duffner; he was one exciting coach. A lot of people must have felt the same way, because he lasted 5 years with just one (6-5) winning season. Lou Saban won every home game (4), but lost the rest in his one year. Still, we all wanted him to stay, but he had wandering feet and bugged out on his contract. I see certain parallels between Roy Lester and Edsel. Lester was hired out of his job as coach of Richard Montgomery High School, where we was a coaching legend. Old Roy went 7-25 in three years, and I have so many funny and bizarre Lester stories that I could write a book. Edsel was hired out of U Conn after building it into a (old school) Div II powerhouse. This is his third year at Maryland. I do not see a happy ending. Hope I'm wrong, but the Ford Edsel lasted just three years. That's cosmic.