Sounds reminiscent of the 2011 college football season, when Gunnery Sgt. Edsall made those miscreant Maryland kids remove their earrings, take off their hats when indoors and shape up or ship out.
And boy, did they ever ship out — 23 of them, basically the equivalent of an entire recruiting class, including Danny O’Brien, last September’s starting quarterback, to Wisconsin.
Oh, at ease, Terrapins Nation: Your football team already has won as many games in two weeks as it won all of last season. If Maryland can beat a team full of Edsall’s former recruits on Saturday at Byrd Stadium, it will move to 3-0 for the first time since 2001, Ralph Friedgen’s first year.
In Storrs, Conn., the game is essentially being billed as the “Revenge on Randy Bowl.” The Connecticut fan base still can’t get over how Edsall, referred to as “The Deserter” in a Hartford Courant column this week, got on a flight to Maryland after his team’s Fiesta Bowl loss in January 2011, never letting his players know he was off to take another job on the same night he made the team’s star running back stand up in front of the team and admit he was turning pro and forgoing his senior season. This week, Edsall expressed regret for his actions that night.
But really, Maryland-Connecticut would be better billed as the “Kids Caught in a Custody Battle Bowl.” More than four dozen players on both sides had to adjust to another coach and another system after the guy who recruited them moved on (or had to move on) before their scholarships ran out.
The upperclassmen on both teams, who stuck around and persevered instead of transferring, should be the focus Saturday. Not Edsall; he’s merely the common denominator who stirred the pot during the process.
“Of course you’re coming to a program hoping your coach will be here,” Maryland senior tackle Justin Gilbert said. “But we got a new coach. The guys who are here like Coach Edsall. We had a lot of guys leave — it kinda helped us because there at the end we had a lot of cancers on the team. . . . Guys chirping in the locker room. You could tell they didn’t want to be here and they had a negative attitude.
“Getting those guys out helped. Now we can actually really go with Coach Edsall’s philosophy of doing the right thing.”
Doing the right thing — Randy’s way.
Edsall swore off alcohol again this season, and asked his players to do the same.
“We’ll still go out and have fun with friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to go get hammered with your friends,” said Ryan Schlothauer, the already-graduated tight end whom Edsall helped get an internship at Lockheed Martin this summer. Edsall “calls it ‘drinking the poison.’ ”