New Maryland coach Randy Edsall: “What we’re doing is we’re not building a team. We’re building a program”

January 13, 2011 | Ryan Chell

Randy Edsall had a plan in place when he came to the University of Conneticut being named the head football coach of the Huskies in 1998.

He helped build a struggling, 1-AA program with no fan or school support under it from the ground up to a Big East contender that made four straight bowl appearances, including this year’s BCS Fiesta Bowl.

Randy Edsall

The University of Maryland recently hired Edsall-a two-time Big East co-champ and 2010 Big East Coach of the Year- to work that same magic on their program, and he joined Thyrl Nelson of the “Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday to introduce not only himself to the Terps faithful but to also indiciate his plans for the Maryland football program.

“It’s all about the plan we have in place,” Edsall said. “We just stuck to it and did what we felt was necessary.”

Edsall was hired by AD Kevin Anderson and Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh to re-energize a displaced Terps fanbase and get the program back to national prominence, and he sees a similar approach on how to fix this situation placed in his hands based on what he did in the Big East with UConn.

“Just like coming here, I have a plan in place on what I want to accomplish, and how we’re going to go about doing that,” Edsall said. “What we’re going to do is build around teammwork.”

Edsall took the job on Janurary 2nd, 2011 to replace Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen as the next football coach of the Maryland Terrapins following Friedgen’s dismissal before the school’s 51-20 victory over ECU in the Military Bowl.

He was hired at that date to get he and his staff in place ready for recruiting and to prepare for the 2011 college football season. So far, his job has been as hectic as can be, and he has fit right into the grind of making the Terps important again the same way he made UConn football relevant for the first time.

“It’s been very hectic,” Edsall told Nelson. “There’s not enough hours in the day, but you just prioritize yourself on the things you need to do…and right now, it’s the recruiting and the finalization of the coaching staff.”

The biggest news so far with the coaching staff has been Edsall retaining Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown and today reports indicated that LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton will be leaving the Tigers to become Edsall’s OC.

“We want to be aggressive in everything we do,” Edsall commented. “We especially want to be aggressive on defense and I’ve retained Don Brown and so the defense is really going to be the same. And offensively what we want to do is attack the field vertically and horizontally.”

Edsall in his twelve years coaching at the UConn compiled a 74-70 overall record, and that might have Terps fans scratching their heads. Why hire a coach with that record as opposed to Mike Leach, who was 84-43 in ten seasons at Texas Tech?

Edsall may have fit more into what the school’s administration was looking for when it came to getting a program known more for its other athletic teams on everybody’s radar.

“It was a vision that I had to have,” Edsall replied, “because of the fact that no one had a Division-1 mentality when it came to the University of Connecticut.”

Edsall’s Huskies were the first squad to make the successful transition from FCS to FBS. And while they struggled at first going 15-30 over his first four seasons on the UConn sideline, since 2003 his teams have 59-40 and appeared in five bowl games.

“Then in each year, you keep ramping it up. What we did was build a porgram that would stand the test of time and I think that’s important in anything that you do.”

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said many times in various statements and press conferences that they wanted a guy who was enthusiastic about the job and fully committed to the University of Maryland.

And Anderson said that while Leach may have the better football resume, Edsall showed more passion in his interview than Mike Leach, and you can trace that devotion all the way back to Edsall’s childhood.

“I’m originally 70 miles from here above the border in Pennslyvania off Interstate 83,” Edsall said, a native of Glen Rock. “I came to my first football game here and went to camp here and really this is home to me.”

And the other thing that may have won the job for Edsall?

He says he’s here to stay as long as Maryland will have him, unlike Leach who was widely expected to just use Maryland as a stepping stone to another school in a bigger football conference.

“At my 52 years, I want this to be my last stop of the train,” Edsall said.

But the critics out there will say that UConn was supposed to be his last stop on the train as well. Edsall explained to Nelson that he understands why the Huskies faithful may dissaprove of his decision to leave and how he did it, but he said that he did his best to wish those in Connecticut for giving him his break and standing behind what he was trying to do.

“You know anytime you leave someplace, it might not be the best timing or what transpires,” Edsall said. “You do what you think is best, and there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to address the whole team.”

Edsall said everything happened so fast after Oklahoma’s victory over his team in the Fiesta Bowl, and everything was a blur to him.

“I didn’t know anything when we were in Arizona. I didn’t find out until Sunday night. I wasn’t offered anything until Sunday night. Only half the team left on the charter, while the other half dispersed from Phoenix on their own going home, so there was never going to be a time where you could do it”

“I thought I did the best thing I thought I could do, so I got on a conference call, and got them on there to try and explain to them my feelings, and explain why I took the job. That was the only way I could do it. I don’t apologize for it because I did what I felt was the best thing for the circumstances that took place…and when certain things happen you do what you think you can do best, and that’s what I tried to do.”

And right now, Edsall is really looking forward to getting to know his new group of young men that he’s going to work with to rebuild the football program at College Park.

“This is an eager group,” Edsall said. “The young men I’ve already talked to are ready to go, and like I said once we get recruiting finished, I look forward to really spending as much time as NCAA rules allow us to with our team.”

And Edsall sees even more out of the Maryland fan base being just as hungry to watch them play. And he guarantees that the plan he has in place is going to bring College Park not just a good team, but a program that will stand for the many decades he hopes to be tracking the sidelines for the Terps.

“As long as you lay that foundation and you nurture that foundation, you can build it and it’s got to be strong as it goes up. What we’re doing is we’re not building a team . We’re building a program. A team is year-to-year. A program goes in decades. It goes a lot longer, and that’s really what you want to do.”

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