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Kevin Anderson failed with Randy Edsall, but he deserves another shot

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Maryland's athletic director missed on his last football coaching search, but he's hit on some other big ones.

Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

In hiring Randy Edsall, Kevin Anderson blew it.

That's not an indictment of Anderson's decision-making in 2011, when Edsall was coming off a BCS appearance at Connecticut and looked, to many, like a hot coaching prospect. But it is a referendum on Edsall's results, which weren't nearly good enough. The numbers – 22-33 in five years, including 0-11 against ranked opposition – are brutal. Anderson wanted Maryland to go from "good to great," and Maryland went from good to something less than mediocre. Ultimately, that's on the athletic director.

Anderson's hiring of Edsall cost Maryland's football program roughly five years, give or take depending on if you think Maryland is incrementally better or worse off today than when Anderson fired Ralph Friedgen after a 9-4 season in 2010. Based on the provisions of Edsall's first contract and extension he signed last June, Anderson's miss on Edsall cost Maryland more than $12 million. (To be fair, it's not as if an alternative hire would have come for free.)

So, Anderson failed. He failed badly, and in one of his most important jobs as director, which is hiring a football coach.

But there's more to Anderson's time at Maryland that suggests he can do better on another search.

Anderson has succeeded in coaching hires that weren't Randy Edsall. He brought on Mark Turgeon to run Maryland's basketball program, and all Turgeon has done is make Maryland into the likely preseason No. 1 team for 2015 in the span of four years. Anderson succeeded when he hired John Szefc to lead Maryland's baseball program, which had been forgotten in the course of decades of something less than mediocrity: irrelevance. All Szefc's done is take Maryland to the brink of College World Series appearances in consecutive seasons, which had only happened never before.

That isn't to say he's always succeeded outside of football. Before last season, he hired a softball coach who left after one season. But it is to say Anderson has succeeded before, and perhaps he'll do it again. He's put himself at a bit of a financial deficit in this next search, probably, unless Under Armour founder Kevin Plank or someone else drops a bucket full of cash on Maryland's head.

That might happen, or it might not. Anderson might hire a great coach, or he might not. But while success obviously isn't a done deal, failure isn't predestined here. Nothing in Anderson's track record suggests it should be.