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Your Monday Reality Check: O’Brien saga another example of flawed system

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Your Monday Reality Check: O’Brien saga another example of flawed system

Posted on 22 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

I’ve never hidden from the fact that I never actually finished my degree at the University of Maryland.

I mean, Mark Zuckerburg never finished his degree either. So no worries, right?

You (have to) know I’m an alum of the school in College Park, and our buddy Chris Lombardi once nicknamed me “The Tradition” because of the old Navy football advertising slogan “tradition never graduates.”

I never got around to finishing my degree for a number of reasons. One was because I got my first (nearly) full-time job in radio and I was very distracted. I missed a number of classes because my radio mentors told me I should try to be at the station as much as possible. I was introducing Jimmy Eat World records late at night and recapping Terps basketball games during the day. I never wanted to leave.

The other issue I dealt with was a bit more personal. My parents offered me about two semesters worth of help (and I’m forever grateful to them for being able to help even that much) financially, and then I was on my own. I cleverly took cheaper classes concurrently at the Community College of Baltimore County (who actually gave me a “degree”, so I’ve got that going for me) for awhile, but ultimately struggled after shifting back to Maryland. I tried to finish my degree using the school’s “University College” program, but I was simply putting myself in much too significant debt while trying to begin my professional life.

Much like Alex Len, I was forced to make the tough choice to leave school early.

It’s nearly a guarantee you don’t care about any of my collegiate career, but if you stuck around I have a point to make.

I would have LOVED to have had the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland with tuition paid. I didn’t get that opportunity. I couldn’t catch a football, I couldn’t dunk a basketball, I most certainly couldn’t nail a behind the back bounce shot on the lacrosse field.

Former University of Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien WAS granted the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland on scholarship. He was given said scholarship because when he played quarterback in high school in North Carolina, former Terps Offensive Coordinator James Franklin and head coach Ralph Friedgen believed he could help them win football games and wanted to convince him to choose the school over other interested schools.

It’s important to point out that as someone who couldn’t really afford to finish my own degree at the same University of Maryland, I do not begrudge O’Brien one bit for being able to get his own without having to pay for it.

I don’t begrudge him one bit because as the quarterback of the football team, O’Brien had significant value at the University. He played a major role in helping the University make money, likely responsible for much more than the amount his three years of scholarship money added up to.

I reference this story because we found out this weekend that Danny O’Brien would be spending his final year of collegiate eligibility at Division II Catawba College this fall. It is a long fall from ACC Rookie of the Year (2010) and starting quarterback at the University of Wisconsin (2012).

The news was first reported by Scout.com Friday night and met with reaction that was quite surprising to me. Here are some of those reactions (including a bit of language) from the @WNST Twitter account…

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Former Maryland QB O’Brien transferring to Catawba College

Posted on 20 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Former University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin quarterback Danny O’Brien has found a new college home.

The former Terps and Badgers QB will spend his final season of eligibility at Division II Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. The news was first reported by Scout.com. O’Brien’s final college home will not be far from Kennersville, NC-where O’Brien played at East Forsyth High School.

O’Brien spent two years of eligibility with the Terrapins in 2010 and 2011, claiming ACC Freshman of the Year honors in 2010. O’Brien was 192/337 that season, throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 TD’s while helping to lead the Terps to their most recent bowl appearance, a win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl.

At the end of the 2010 season, then Maryland Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach in Waiting James Franklin left for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt and the school chose to successful head coach Ralph Friedgen. O’Brien chose to stay at Maryland for his sophomore season under new head coach Randy Edsall, finishing his degree at the University in the process. O’Brien began splitting time with fellow sophomore QB C.J. Brown before having his season cut short when suffering a broken arm in a blowout loss to Notre Dame.

After his sophomore season, O’Brien elected to take advantage of a NCAA rule that allowed graduate students to transfer without penalty  to a school that offers graduate programs not available at the previous University. O’Brien was originally blocked from seeking a transfer to Vanderbilt by Edsall, but then released to seek transfer to any non-ACC school. Edsall however did file a complaint accusing Franklin of having improper contact with O’Brien before the quarterback had decided to transfer.

Ultimately, O’Brien chose to transfer to Wisconsin. He played in just seven games during his junior season in 2012, being replaced both by freshman Joel Stave and later by senior Curt Phillips as then Badgers head coach Bret Bielema cited struggles with turnovers.

O’Brien was once viewed as a legitimate NFL prospect. Only a few former Indians have ever reached the NFL Draft, including former Baltimore Colts OT David Taylor (1973).

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Former Terp Bowen joins Towson football staff

Posted on 24 April 2013 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – A former graduate assistant coach at the University of Maryland, Tyler Bowen has been named as an assistant coach for the Towson University football team, it has been announced by Head Coach Rob Ambrose.

He will serve as the Tigers’ tight ends coach.

A native of Helena, Ga., Bowen played three years of football for the Terrapins before becoming a student assistant coach for Ralph Friedgen in 2010. In his season as a student assistant, he helped Maryland post a 9-4 record and a win in the Military Bowl.

“Tyler Bowen is an incredible experienced and talented young coach who has learned from some of the greatest minds in college football,” says Coach Ambrose.  “His versatility and enthusiasm are already being felt by our players and staff.”

An offensive tackle whose career was hampered by injuries, Bowen was an All-State offensive lineman at Telfair County High School in Georgia. He was recruited by a number of major college programs before deciding to attend Maryland.

After the 2009 season, it was determined that he couldn’t play football anymore due to injury problems. At that point, he joined the Terrapins’ coaching staff.

After he received his degree in 2010, he joined Coach Randy Edsall’s staff as a graduate assistant. During his two seasons as a G.A. at Maryland, he worked with the offensive linemen and the wide receivers. He spent most of his time working with the offense. In his final season at Maryland, he coached for Mike Locksley, the Terps’ Offensive Coordinator and a 1992 graduate of Towson.

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Terps quarterback O’Brien staying or going?

Posted on 08 February 2012 by WNST Staff

A bizarre pairing of events on Wednesday afternoon has only further clouded the future of Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien in College Park.

Less than an hour after Dan Hellie of NBC-TV 4 in Washington reported that O’Brien had informed head coach Randy Edsall he intended to transfer, the quarterback used his own Twitter account to shoot down the rumor.

“Contrary to rumor, I’m still a Terp,” O’Brien stated without any further elaboration.

Of course, the original report could still hold true, and O’Brien may simply want to delay announcing his decision until the end of the spring semester. After his redshirt sophomore season was cut short by a broken arm last November, O’Brien could wait to see how he fares in a quarterback competition with fellow junior-to-be C.J. Brown this spring before deciding on his future.

Edsall has said O’Brien would be limited in spring practice as he continues to recover from the fracture to his non-throwing arm.

After a successful 2010 season in which he was named ACC Rookie of the Year and threw 22 touchdowns to just eight interceptions while leading Maryland to a 9-4 record and a Military Bowl victory in Ralph Friedgen’s final year as head coach, O’Brien struggled to adjust to offensive coordinator Gary Crowton’s spread offense in 2011 and was eventually benched in favor of Brown. O’Brien had only seven touchdown passes and threw 10 interceptions before his season was cut short against Notre Dame on Nov. 12.

Edsall hired Mike Locksley as his new offensive coordinator after last season’s disastrous 2-10 campaign, and Maryland is expected to adopt a pro-style offense with spread components that would likely be more suited to O’Brien’s skill set than last year’s system.

Rumors have circulated for months that O’Brien would leave Maryland after losing his starting job and being forced to compete with Brown, but the North Carolina native has publicly supported Edsall and the program. If O’Brien would transfer, he would become the 11th player with eligibility remaining to leave the program since last season and 23rd overall since Edsall was hired in January 2011.

O’Brien has two years of eligibility remaining at Maryland.

 

 

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Before Kickoff, Score Is Gronkowski 1-Reed 0

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Before Kickoff, Score Is Gronkowski 1-Reed 0

Posted on 18 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

I can’t believe I’m going to write this.

As a sports talk radio host, my life is basically dependent on getting sports figures to talk. As you’ve seen this football season, it’s been particularly beneficial (at least in terms of viral recognition) when folks like Ralph Friedgen or Joe Flacco have answered my questions in colorful ways.

At the beginning of every week, WNST Executive Producer Ryan Chell and I run through a list of folks we can reach out to for that particular week in hopes of having them appear on my radio show-or any of the other shows here at AM1570 WNST.net.

As Ryan and I were chatting Monday, I mentioned to him that I knew New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski a little bit. I had covered his brother (Cleveland Browns TE Dan Gronkowski) for awhile when he played for the University of Maryland and had stayed in touch a bit since then. I also spent time chatting with Rob at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in 2010 and we exchanged phone numbers as I had reason to believe he was a legitimate target for General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens in the upcoming NFL Draft.

(Of course, that was well before we found out the monster tight end had failed a physical with the team leading up to the Draft.)

Ryan reached out to Gronkowski Tuesday morning and got a call back from him just after “The Reality Check” hit the airwaves Tuesday afternoon. When Ryan asked him if he would be available to chat with me later in the show, the former University of Arizona star politely declined (he did offer to chat again after the season was over) and deferred to the Pats’ media availability this week.

While I was disappointed, I fully understood. To keep peeling back the curtain, I never allow myself to get too angry when a sports figure doesn’t end up on the air with us. I always tell our staff “they don’t owe us anything” and look forward to the next opportunity to chat.

Baltimore Ravens DL Arthur Jones took us up on the opportunity to chat Tuesday on the show. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get him to divulge information on what kind of pass rush the Ravens would offer in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

I tell this long-winded story because it ties into some other comments made this week that have lit up Charm City.

Ravens S Ed Reed appeared Monday on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio. You’ve read many of the quotes elsewhere on the internet, including…

“Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense. They had a lot of guys in the box on him and they were giving it to him. I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.”

And…

“He can’t play like that. One specific play that sticks out to me was when Ray Rice came out and got pushed out of the backfield and (Flacco) still threw him the ball and he had Torrey Smith on the outside. I can say that sitting on the sideline or sitting in the stands. You don’t know what someone else is seeing.”

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The 15-7-0 is Italian. It’s Pronounced FRA-GEE-LAY.

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The 15-7-0 is Italian. It’s Pronounced FRA-GEE-LAY.

Posted on 26 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Jerome Simpson is HOLY CRAP THAT TOUCHDOWN WAS SO AMAZING I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FINISH THIS SENTENCE.

The ESPY Awards are an annual event put on by ESPN that you’ve never watched from start to finish despite the fact that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” promotes them for about 6 months.

And since you likely won’t be watching next July, I’ll prevent the suspense. Jerome Simpson’s TD catch for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday wins SOMETHING.

As our own Brian Billick said on FOX, “you don’t get style points in the NFL but that oughtta be worth eight.”

Or more.

Oh, and don’t look now but Cincy is playing great football just before they welcome the Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. I don’t want to talk about that right now though. Perhaps never.

2. You just can’t help but be thrilled for Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions.

As someone who roots for a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997, I know a thing or two about what it must have felt like for fans in the Music City to watch their team clinch a Wild Card spot in the final moments of their win over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTwsmzTk7Lc

The Bolts were finally eliminated from the playoffs, which you would assume will lead to Norv Turner’s firing. They may or may not have already interviewed Bill Cowher for Turner’s job, and Jon Gruden may or may not be next.

In the meantime, if you’re going to lose at least do it with amazing hair like SD DE Antonio Garay…

3. Kellen Moore and Boise State deserved much better than blowing out an Arizona State team that didn’t bother to try before Christmas in Las Vegas.

It was the final win of a record-setting career for the Broncos quarterback, it was just really unfortunate it happened in this venue instead of in a BCS bowl, as America would have enjoyed watching them play a team that actually gave a s**t…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIXqNJhQPww

The win came as rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in hiring BSU coach Chris Petersen. In a related story, I am interested in being hired by Saturday Night Live.

Petersen obviously is not interested in replacing Joe Paterno in State College. And if you were living as large as this dude is, why would you take ANY job?

4. Cam Newton totally Cam Newton’ed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday.

In the Carolina Panthers’ win over the Bucs Saturday, Newton broke National Football League records for rookie passing yards (Peyton Manning) and quarterback rushing touchdowns (Steve Grogan). He did it in pretty spectacular fashion…

Things couldn’t be worse for the Bucs. Head coach Raheem Morris apparently “sent home” DE Brian Price after getting a 15 yard personal foul call and the team’s freefall continued on toward what looks more and more likely to be Morris’ ultimate firing.

I kinda feel bad for them. Perhaps I should offer some of my mom (the great Karen Clark)’s holiday stuffed shells…

Kick rocks, ham.

5. I don’t know if David Akers’ record for the most field goals in a single season should be considered “significant”, but he owns it either way.

Akers broke the record with FIVE field goals in the San Francisco 49ers’ win over the Seattle Seahawks, moving the Niners a step closer to clinching the Number 2 seed in the NFC.

The Seahawks’ slim postseason hopes may have disappeared, but Marshawn Lynch HAS THE GREATEST PAIR OF KICKS I HAVE EVER SEEN…

Perhaps Foster the People has a follow up ready?

But as amazing as they are, perhaps Under Armour & Brandon Jennings did one better with their “Rudolph” inspired kicks…

Okay…synthetic fur? I HAVE to get back into the shoe game.

6. You might have survived the insanity to get the Air Jordan XI Concords, but USC fans still got a better Christmas gift than you.

Matt Barkley returning to Southern California is confusing because we know he would have been a potential Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, but we also know what could be ahead. Heisman Trophy, Pac 12 & BCS Championship hopes and bevies of hot chicks.

I mean, the guy can play Jason Mraz on the guitar. He must be dodging panties every day he walks around Los Angeles. Tough life there…

Of course, he’s also been filmed doing this…

7. I’ll ask for the 8th time. Can everyone please stop telling me about the New England Patriots’ defense?

With the Pats trailing the Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime Saturday, Facebook and Twitter were alive in Charm City with hopes of the Ravens still having a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC.

I however looked at my executive producer Ryan Chell and said “when Tom Brady decides to start playing I think they’ll be fine.”

They were. The Pats charged back from the halftime deficit to beat the Fins and are now a win away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. Apparently none of that is enough for owner Robert Kraft to get a high five…

Also, this looks like a good holiday film/way to make sure you don’t struggle in the red zone…

Of note for Miami, Reggie Bush remarkably ran for 100+ yards AGAIN in the defeat and we learned this weekend his mom does not want him to get back together with Kim Kardashian. That’s fine, I think Catalina Otalvaro would be a better catch anyway…

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The 15-7-0 Is The Ultimate Performance Enhancer

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The 15-7-0 Is The Ultimate Performance Enhancer

Posted on 12 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I’d use new terms to describe Tim Tebow’s most recent comeback win but I don’t own a thesaurus.

Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio had a late celebratory dinner with our fantastic attorney Sunday night at Fogo De Chao. As I walked in, I said to Drew “is Tebow going to do it again?” He responded “nah…it’s like 10-0 at the end of the game.”

I responded “um…actually it’s 10-7.”

Within moments we were all doing this…

So that I’ve covered myself here, a LOT of credit for the Denver Broncos’ win over the Chicago Bears has to be given to the fact that Marion Barber absolutely fell apart late and Matt Prater’s UNREAL game-tying boot. In fact, Prater’s boot was so incredible it deserves another look…

Just stop already. Just stop. Frank Reich might want to go ahead and make the congratulatory call to Tebow, because you KNOW “The Mile High Messiah” is going to eventually break his record for the greatest comeback in National Football League history.

As far as the Bears go, it’s over for them. You have to have a quarterback. It would be over in Charm City if Tyrod Taylor had to play.

That is…of course…ENOUGH about the Bears. Tim Tebow played Sunday. We’ll be talking about it until next Sunday.

2. My gut tells me it can’t last, but it’s hard to not feel good for the Houston Texans right now.

Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe you DON’T have to have a quarterback. Maybe T.J. Yates is enough…

With Andre Johnson sidelined, Kevin Walter was the hero. I’m so confused by everything happening here. I know the other teams barely tried, but aren’t the Texans supposed to screw this up so that these t-shirts are never printed???


A large crowd welcomed the AFC South champs back to Reliant Stadium Saturday night. No word on whether or not they had all sent Peyton Manning Thank You cards or not.

3. While Navy’s win Saturday over Army was the closest margin in years, it makes their dominance no less impressive.

Even if I had to make a trip to Landover and that AWFUL dump known as FedEx Field, it was worth it for Army/Navy.

My highlight this year? The press box (which Dan Snyder and company placed in the WORST possible location otherwise) was directly behind the brigade of Midshipmen, allowing me to hear every word of “The Goat is Old and Gnarly.”

If you’re not an Annapolis regular, you might not be familiar. Here’s a 4 year old singing it…

The Mids were 27-21 winners thanks to 4th quarter heroics from kicker Jon Teague. The game (as always) was “more than football”. Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama attended, watching one half of the game on each side. At halftime, he was walked from side to side through a tunnel formed by members of each branch. The word “goosebumps” fits.

4. With their season perhaps on the line, Matt Ryan & the Atlanta Falcons really manned up Sunday.

Down 23-7 at the half and watching their Wild Card hopes crumble, the Falcons became energized and clinched a win with this 75 yard TD to Julio Jones…

After finishing the win over the Carolina Panthers, the Falcons had quite the scare when coach Mike Smith felt chest pains and was taken off the team flight and instead to a Charlotte hospital. When reached for comment, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger described Smith as a “pansy.”

5. I warned you a week ago. The San Diego Chargers are still dangerous.

Crap. Crap crap crap.

The Bolts are pretty healthy and playing really well just in time for a date with the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Phillip Rivers is playing well. Vincent Jackson is playing well. Ryan Matthews is playing well. Antonio Gates is playing well. They kept their slim playoff hopes alive while ruining any hopes the Buffalo Bills had Sunday.

Crap.

WNST will be in San Diego next weekend, partnering with Los Angeles Ravens fan club The West Wing. That means Perry Hall High School alum Daniela Pane will be in the house…

It’s a shame she has to compete with me every year for the “most popular alum” award. Otherwise she’d probably have it nailed down.

(Also-I know flights aren’t cheap…but…you know…)

6. Robert Griffin III’s run to the Heisman Trophy was one of the more improbable in the history of the award.

Before the season began-what, maybe 10% of college football fans could name the Baylor Bears quarterback? Just before Christmas, RG3 has not only won the sports’ highest honor, he’s also started a craze in footwear…

Superman socks. Actually quite awesome. Everyone else is so much cooler than me.

7. For as much as everyone thinks the Greg Jennings injury will hurt the Green Bay Packers, I just don’t get that feeling.

There were a handful of goofs who thought the Oakland Raiders could give the Packers a run for their money. Here are some highlights-or at least the best I could find on YouTube…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bbtul3e5l60

If Greg Jennings really does have a torn ACL, the Packers are hurting. But this is a team that has Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, ah you get the point. They’re going undefeated and they’re probably going to win the Super Bowl.

Have a Happy Monday!

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terps

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Tough Times for Transitioning Terps

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

 

It’s simply not easy being a Terps fan these days. From the maiden voyage of the SS Randy Edsall which has been mercifully docked for the season a tattered shell of its modest former self to the cutting of 8 sports to the anticipation of a bumpy road ahead for the basketball team, the fans are up in arms and AD Kevin Anderson is likely beginning to feel a bit of heat with little to redeem his brief tenure thus far yet plenty of fodder to indict with. 

 

That said, the thought that Mark Turgeon would have an easier transition in filling the shoes of the legend Gary Williams than Randy Edsall would have in filling Ralph Friedgen’s old post was all buy unfathomable just 7 or so months ago. Yet that is seemingly just what has happened.

 

Edsall’s win/loss record is one thing, but the fact that he has done little to endear himself to the fans or media stands in stark opposition to the school’s proclamation that Friedgen’s failure to attract ticket buyers was at the heart of his dismissal. To that end, Edsall is failing miserably.

 

Turgeon on the other hand saved Nick Faust, the biggest remaining recruit in the Gary Williams cache and then quickly went about stocking the cupboard for 2012. As the Terps’ devout and astute fan base has taken notice, Turgeon will get a pass this season. Turgeon will get a pass that is; as long as he simply says and does the “right things” to appease a fan base yearning to believe that he can lead this team back to glory.

 

Conceding that notion however, the emotion of a season and the game-to-game action of the schedule can certainly change the tenor and the expectations of the fans in a hurry. Thus far it would seem that the Terps have shown themselves to have scant enough talent to stand much of a chance on most nights against “big 6” competition and therefore as long as their efforts look genuine and their improvement marked throughout the season, fans will be both summarily appeased and encouraged.

 

For me, while acceptable, all of the above became much more painful as I, as a fan, came to grips with the Terps place in the relative basketball universe over the two days of action that was the 2011 ACC/Big 10 Challenge. As the ACC was plodding their way to an 8 games to 4 loss in the challenge, a couple of things became painfully evident.

 

First is that the basketball luster of the once proud ACC is fading quickly (a realization made all the more difficult as fans once proud of the conference’s basketball identity and legacy have been summarily reminded at every turn that football is still way out front in the race to drive inter-collegiate politics). What’s more, this means that our hopes, as fans, for the basketball credibility of the conference now ride on the hated Tarheels and Blue Devils. If pulling for those two are requirements for being a good ACC fan, count me out for now and simply color me disappointed and moderately disgusted.

 

The second realization, one both comforting and disturbing, is that Carolina and Duke are both soft, neither looks much like a safe bet to get past the sweet 16 and it shouldn’t be a shock if someone was able to step up and steal the conference this season. It would be a shock however if that somebody was Maryland, for now I’ll call it anyone’s guess.

 

The ACC though in general is sort of up for grabs, in both football and basketball. The conference expansion that was supposed to bring football credibility to the conference while also bringing basketball credibility to the football powers it imported has been a miserable failure on both fronts. The ACC is still an afterthought in the BCS title picture, the perennial BCS powers it brought in are now fighting it out for the one automatic berth to the BCS that the ACC had already and now from a basketball standpoint the watered down ACC might be the 3rd or 4th best hoops conference in America this season…and it hasn’t happened all at once.

 

As the ACC prepares to absorb Pitt and the recently scandalous Syracuse it seems to indicate their belief that the basketball side of the operation needs a bit of a jump-start too. Recent history suggests the foreseeable outcome isn’t necessarily the likely one.

 

In both football and basketball, the ACC is absolutely ripe for the picking and Maryland has at least acted over the last 10 months or so like they intend to be in on the harvest. Now it’s just a matter of trusting the guys who’ll build the ladders to get it, and hoping they be able to get them high enough.

 

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Edsall Must Change On Field And Off In Maryland Future

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Edsall Must Change On Field And Off In Maryland Future

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

As Drew Forrester has said here at WNST.net, Randy Edsall is going to be the football coach at the University of Maryland in 2012.

The #FIREEDSALL trend on Twitter is certainly alive and John Feinstein absolutely shredded the coach this week in the Washington Post, but neither will have an effect on his job status.

Despite a 2-10 record in Edsall’s first season with the Terrapins, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has every intention to stick with the man he hired after firing 10 year head coach and Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen nearly a year ago.

He’ll be doing that for a few reasons.

The first of those reasons is because no one is fairly considering how significant a role injuries played in the team’s downfall. The team was decimated by injuries throughout the season, forcing defensive coordinator Todd Bradford to turn to a number of redshirt and even true freshmen throughout the season. Competing for an ACC Championship was a tough task to begin with, but nearly impossible as injuries mounted.

It of course doesn’t forgive the nature of how the team finished with just one win over an opponent at the FBS level (their season opening Labor Day victory over a depleted Miami squad), but it has to be considered.

Another of the reasons why Edsall will return is well known. Maryland is in a LOT of financial trouble at the moment. The athletic department is on the verge of cutting eight varsity teams due to financial issues and has admitted that the football program must generate more money to sustain the 17 programs that will remain. With Edsall only one year into a six year deal worth $12 million, Maryland does not have the financial ability to get out from under such a costly deal.

The notion that Under Armour CEO/Maryland alum Kevin Plank could pony up the $10 million necessary to buy out Edsall is preposterous. Plank has become one of the most successful businessmen on the face of the planet buy making good decisions. Giving away $10 million wouldn’t qualify as such a thing.

(Just to inject here. There have been some rumors that Edsall would be a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars opening after the team fired Jack Del Rio. I think we can move on from those rumors about as quickly as they appeared.)

But money and injuries are not the only reasons why Randy Edsall will remain as the school’s football coach. The more significant reason why Edsall will not be let go by the school is because coaches who receive six year deals just aren’t dismissed after one season.

When Anderson hired Edsall away from the University of Connecticut, he absolutely did not tell him “if you leave the Huskies, you’ll have one year to make things work in College Park.”

Had Anderson done such a thing, Edsall’s response would have been something along the lines of “I would never leave UConn. UConn is my dream job.”

It’s safe to say that when hiring Edsall, Anderson made it clear the former Connecticut coach would be able to build his program as necessary, despite the success the team celebrated (nine wins including a Military Bowl victory, ACC Rookie of the Year in QB Danny O’Brien) the season before his arrival.

As Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant pointed out this week, there were reasons to believe Edsall’s reputation in Storrs exceeded his actual accomplishments. During an appearance on “The Reality Check” Wednesday on AM1570 WNST.net, Jacobs referred to something he had written in January just after Edsall’s departure from the area…

There was something unnervingly self-serving in Randy Edsall’s words in the month leading up to his BCS Bowl spanking. As he talked about all the milestones the program has reached since the days of working out of the trailers, Edsall wondered if there were any more notches in the belt he could cut at UConn.

The answer to Edsall’s question about notches in the belt, of course, was there were plenty left. And we’re not talking pie-in-the-sky national title. For starters, how about an outright Big East championship? Or how about getting to a BCS Bowl game where you aren’t automatically penciled in as a hopeless underdog the moment you qualify for it.”

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For better or worse, Maryland’s going with Randy Edsall

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For better or worse, Maryland’s going with Randy Edsall

Posted on 30 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

What a mess they have on their hands down at College Park.

Or do they?

On the outside, it would appear they’re drinking from the fire hose, drenched in the stink of a 2-10 football season and completely unsure of where to go from here, with fans, boosters and the media chasing coach Randy Edsall with a pitchfork and demanding some sort of immediate improvement despite the fact that they season is over with at Maryland.

That’s on the outside.

On the inside, the turmoil might not be percolating nearly as much.

Randy Edsall is already working on next season.  The recruiting window opened this past Sunday and the Terps coach was on the trail, talking to high schoolers about signing on with his program.

While the rest of the DC/Baltimore market continued to stew about the 2-win season, Edsall was too busy worrying about 2012 to spend any time lamenting the woes of 2011.

Frankly, that’s how most coaches are, particularly after a loss and/or a losing season.

They simply move on to the next game or the next season or the next challenge.

I don’t think Randy Edsall can explain what happened to his football team in 2011.  No matter what he says, the majority of people who follow the program will claim he’s making an excuse.

And those folks just want wins…they don’t want to hear about losing and reasons for it.

So that’s why Edsall is off on the recruiting trail.  Sitting around College Park and trying to defend his team’s horrible first season isn’t going to get him more players.  It’s only going to put him further behind.

I’m not going to defend Edsall…and 2-10…and bad attendance…and home butt-whoopings from the likes of Temple and Virginia and Wake Forest.

There IS some defense for it, by the way, because Maryland – already young at some key positions on the field – was shredded by injuries from week #1 until the very last week of the season.  But every team gets injuries along the way and to say Maryland’s first-aid kit was used more than any other ACC team would be excuse-making.

Injuries DO matter, though.  Just ask the Indianapolis Colts.

In Edsall’s case, there’s only one thing that will prove he was the right choice at College Park.

Winning.

Can he do it?  Can Randy Edsall bring the Maryland football program back to life after a 2-win season and player defections and the general apathy and malaise that his team displayed over the season’s final month?

I don’t know the answer to that.

As a Maryland supporter, I’d like to do the rah-rah thing and say, “Sure he can!” but I don’t know if what happened this season is repairable.

There was A LOT of damage done, but nearly all of that damage was done with players that Edsall inherited from the Ralph Friedgen era.

This much I know about Edsall:  His style is unique.  He’s tough.  He’s demanding.  Some of his rules and codes of conduct seem a little too overbearing given the fact that he’s dealing with college athletes.

But those things don’t make him a bad football coach.  They make his style one that you need to be willing to accept if you want to play football for Randy Edsall.

As Jay-Z says at the beginning of the song “Hollywood” — “It ain’t for everybody…”

Edsall’s style certainly “ain’t for everybody”.

And after a few years of Ralph Friedgen’s boy scout camp atmosphere, a lot of the players weren’t ready, willing or able to come to grips with the way Edsall runs his program.

Once the losing started, the majority of the guys who mattered on the field simply bailed on Edsall.  They gave an effort…but as the final Saturday collapse (see next page, please)

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