Their roster is considered among the weakest in the ACC. Maryland lacks experienced depth after a number of players transferred from the program, including former starting quarterback Danny O’Brien, who was among the conference’s rising stars before Edsall arrived on campus. The unusually high number of transfers in one offseason is a direct reflection of those players’ opinion of the head coach. Some chafed at Edsall’s dress-code rules. Others, like O’Brien, the 2010 ACC rookie of the year, bolted because of their diminished roles within the program.
In the latest bit of awful news, the school announced Wednesday that starting quarterback C.J. Brown will miss the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee. No other quarterback has taken a snap in a college game.
The Terrapins figure to have another abysmal season on the field. But if Edsall proves he’s building correctly for the future, it would be a measure of progress in an otherwise difficult situation.
Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who returned to Maryland in December after previously serving as an assistant there from 1997 through 2002, must rely on untested quarterbacks to operate the new pro-style offense. Locksley’s teaching skills will be tested. Ten starters return to aid new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart in making the transition to a 3-4 alignment, but Maryland had one of the nation’s worst defenses last season.
It’s always easiest to measure progress by comparing a team’s win-loss record from one season to the next. Maryland is not expected to win many games, but fans could still gauge improvement from the roster’s development. If Edsall and his staff are succeeding at coaching, it will be apparent in the strides individual players make from the start of the season to the end.
In the NFL, players are the superstars. They’re the ones with the iconic status and paychecks indicative of their top-of-the-mountain standing. All of the league’s head coaches are millionaires as well, and the most successful among them also shine in the media spotlight, but it’s the players who provide the face of teams.
But with players only around for four or five years, tops, coaches are the larger-than-life figures in the college game. Through the force of their personalities, coaches drive everything from recruiting to university fundraising. Winning coaches sometimes become bigger than the schools they represent (though, as we’ve seen from the Penn State situation, hero worship can have horrific consequences).