|Randy Edsall's first year at Maryland: 2-10, plus an additional 0-1 in handling QB transfers. (Getty Images)|
Maryland coach Randy Edsall hasn't contributed much to college football, at least nothing that would leave a legacy, but the man with a career record of 76-80 has done something special now. By jerking around quarterback Danny O'Brien, Edsall has poked an ugly hole in the NCAA's already crumbling position on transfers.
The way I see it, Randy Edsall has just provided the tipping point against bullying, hypocritical coaches. Because this one is so bad, so unfair, it won't simply fade away. What Edsall is doing to Danny O'Brien could, and should, leave a lasting mark -- the kind that would be in utter contrast to what Edsall was trying to do.
Then again, everything about Edsall's first year at Maryland has been rather hapless. It's hard to torch your career after one season, but Edsall doused his program in gasoline and handed his bosses a match. Along with going 2-10 in the ACC -- a league without one school ranked in the final AP Top 20 -- Edsall lost O'Brien and 23 other players with eligibility remaining. That's an entire recruiting class, gone. In one year.
Well done, Randy Edsall.
But this story isn't about Edsall's poor start at Maryland. It's about his poor conclusion to Danny O'Brien's time at Maryland, which Edsall wrapped up with a spiteful ribbon. According to his high school coach, O'Brien would like to play for the man who recruited him and was his first offensive coordinator at Maryland, James Franklin, now the coach at Vanderbilt. When Edsall announced he was releasing O'Brien from his scholarship, he noted there would be some exceptions: no ACC schools, and no non-conference teams that are on Maryland's schedule in 2012 or '13. Understandable.
Oh, and not Vanderbilt.
This is the sort of thing that should turn stomachs because it's so unfair to Danny O'Brien. And because it's so Randy Edsall.
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O'Brien expected to appeal Edsall's Vanderbilt ban
Edsall is a hypocrite of the highest order. When he decided to leave UConn for Maryland in early January 2011, UConn still had a game to play. Nothing much, just the first BCS bowl game in program history. But Edsall already had one foot out the door, so much so that he didn't even fly home from the 2011 Fiesta Bowl with his team. Nope, he took a separate flight to Maryland -- as did his family.
Unless you think that all came together in about 60 minutes after a BCS game, then you know what happened: Even before kickoff, Edsall knew he would be flying to Maryland after the game, probably suspected he would take the job, seeing how he accepted it the next day. But first, the Fiesta Bowl. A blowout loss to Oklahoma. Probably a coincidence, that one.
On his way out of Arizona, though, Edsall learned that UConn's best underclassman, running back Jordan Todman, would enter the 2011 NFL Draft. So right there in the losing locker room, minutes away from his own departure for a secret flight to Maryland, Edsall made Todman tell the team he was leaving them.
Hypocritical guy, Randy Edsall.
And now he's doing it again. Edsall has the right, as do all coaches, to leave one school for another. But let Danny O'Brien try to exercise that same right -- after a coaching change not of his choosing, seeing how he'd signed with Maryland to play for former coach Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin -- and Edsall says no.
Edsall picked the wrong player to bully. Want a poster boy for college football? You could do worse than Danny O'Brien. Never been in trouble off the field. Graduated in three years. Wants to play at a great academic school for his first coach. Not a whiff of tampering allegations, either.
But Edsall is obtuse -- and as that Jordan Todman anecdote suggests, timing has never been his forte. Edsall picked the wrong week to make such a tone-deaf move, doing it when NCAA schools were upholding legislation that allows schools to give four-year scholarships instead of the annually renewable straitjacket that had been the only option. Now, if a school offers a kid a scholarship out of high school, that school might just be stuck with the kid for four years -- which is fair, unless you like the idea of a 19-year-old being jerked around by someone like Randy Edsall.
So there is movement afoot to give scholarship athletes more power, more freedom, more adult independence. Which is good. For too long, college sports have been a one-way proposition -- coaches can do whatever they want, whenever they want; athletes can do whatever their coach allows.
Before I dismount, let me address another O'Brien transfer story, the one involving ex-Saint Joseph's basketball player Todd O'Brien, who left last year for UAB but has not been able to play there because Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli won't release him from his scholarship. It looks like the Edsall story, yet in December I quasi-defended Martelli by saying, in essence, there must be a reason for him to take a position that makes him look so bad.
Anyway, that story I wrote in December, and this story I wrote today, will make me look like
Randy Edsall a hypocrite to some. But not to me. To me these are different, one O'Brien story and the other, and I'll tell you why:
I've paid attention to Phil Martelli for more than a decade, and in all that time, he has given us no reason to question his motives or consider him small or spiteful. Randy Edsall? He has given reason after reason. There was that bush-league Todman move, and on a daily basis Edsall is a disciplinarian Pharisee, shouting from the street corners about the scourge that is a shirt being untucked, an ear being pierced, a hat being worn indoors. He's from another time, another era, when dinosaur coaches did as they hypocritically pleased.
Times are changing. And bless his bullying heart, Randy Edsall is playing his own hapless role.