It's been a tumultuous start to the Randy Edsall era for many Maryland fans. He began his tenure in College Park by dismantling a 9-win team from a well-liked coach, winning only six games over his first two years as a result. The Terrapins have won seven games in each of the past two seasons, making back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2007-08, but poor performances in both postseason games and identical win-loss records in 2013 and 2014 have some Maryland fans fearing stagnation.
That claim is bolstered by Edsall's oft-cited poor record against good teams. Maryland has just three wins over power-conference teams with winning records in his four years with the school (2013 Virginia Tech, 2014 Iowa and 2014 Penn State), although the team was so bad during his first two years that they could hardly be blamed for not pulling off that kind of upset. Still, the trend is there: Edsall is 18-70 against teams with winning records during his career (13-58 against power-conference winning teams) and 3-24 against them while at Maryland (3-22 against power-conference winning teams). For comparison's sake, 2014 Big Ten Coach of the Year Jerry Kill (slightly above Edsall on USA Today's salary chart) has a 10-33 career record against FBS teams with winning records (7-24 against power-conference winning teams) and 8-21 against them while at Minnesota (7-21).
There still appear to be reasons for hope, however. Maryland was more competitive than widely expected in their first year of Big Ten play, and an increase in blue-chip talent has led to stars on both sides of the ball, like Stefon Diggs and Yannick Ngakoue. Recent recruiting momentum has also brought top prospects Damian Prince, Derwin Gray and Quarvez Boulware to College Park, and the Terps have an opportunity to boast their first competent offensive line ever under Edsall this upcoming season (hiring former LSU O-Line coach Greg Studrawa hasn't hurt, either). This will also be the first season where the Terrapin roster is made up entirely of Edsall recruits, and while coaches generally struggle in their first recruiting class (forced to fit a two-year cycle's worth of work into two months), this is the closest we've come to seeing his vision for the program.
Another plus: Maryland has legitimately gotten better each season under Edsall, and the talent in next year's lineup looks like it could be even better. Here are the F/+ rankings for the Terps under Edsall:
That being said, the improvement isn't even to "Bad Friedgen" standards yet ("Terrible Friedgen" excluded). Here's Maryland's F/+ numbers in the last six years (as far as Football Outsiders' database goes back) of their previous head coach:
DISCLAIMER: This is not to debate whether or not Maryland made the right move in 2010. We're only comparing Edsall's results to recent program history.
One of the big selling points for the program under Edsall has been the progress made in the stay-at-home movement, bringing top local prospects to College Park. Starting in the 2012 class with Good Counsel prospects Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown, it has developed into more recent commitments from blue-chip locals Yannick Ngakoue, Deon Long, Jesse Aniebonam, Derwin Gray, Damian Prince, Adam McLean, Quarvez Boulware and Keandre Jones. Along with Jones and DeMatha running back Lorenzo Harrison, there have been loud rumors of a nationally significant 2016 recruiting class, with an unbelievable crop of local talent that holds interest in Maryland.
The following table shows how Randy Edsall's classes have ranked at Maryland, going by the 247Sports Composite. Blue-chip recruits are defined as those rated either four or five stars by the composite.
|Year||Composite ranking||# of blue-chip recruits|
*Maryland is pretty widely expected to add four-star offensive tackle Isaiah Prince to the 2015 class as well. If this were to happen today, the class would rise up to No. 33 nationally, but there's still about a month to go in the cycle.
Like on the field, Edsall has not yet shown the downward recruiting trend Friedgen exhibited from 2006-08, but he's still beaten only one of the former coach's classes. On the other hand, the level of blue-chip talent has been higher under Edsall, and the 2015 and 2016 classes both appear to be trending upwards.
Here's the same table for Friedgen's tenure with Maryland:
|Year||Composite ranking||# of blue-chip recruits|
So here's the big question, paraphrasing from bshock in the comments last Monday. Do you believe that growth will continue, or will Maryland stagnate? This appears to be a critical year for the future of the program, I think we'll find out that answer for sure this season between on-field results and off-field recruiting efforts.
As a personal wish list, for Randy Edsall to fully impress me he has to either really knock one of those two categories out of the park (9 wins OR top-20 class) while still maintaining a solid return in the other (7 wins OR top-40 class), or he has to do better than recent years in both (8 wins AND top-30 class). If I see any of those three things, I think I'm okay. But you never fully know until you see it.
I've set up a rudimentary poll where you can list the single benchmark most important to you, but please take to the comments to expand.