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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

23 (Or 24?) Departures and Counting

The offensive coordinator is gone. The defensive coordinator is gone. Eleven players have left the program since December. A total of 23 have left the program since last January. For a short time yesterday afternoon, it seemed as if yet another player was going to follow that group out the door. It’s been an offseason to forget for Maryland, which is fitting: it was a season to forget for the Terrapins, after all. It’s difficult to imagine a rockier debut for Randy Edsall, the former Connecticut coach who leaped at the chance to trade in Storrs for College Park, and the developments over the last two months does point to the idea that Maryland’s woes may continue in 2012.

For starters, any progression that was made on either side of the ball — if any was made at all — might be undone by the changes on the coaching staff. Not to say that new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley won’t be an improvement over Gary Crowton: Locksley isn’t a head coach, but he’s a fine coordinator who will have an enormous impact on Maryland’s recruiting efforts in the region.

But changes are changes, and come the spring, the Terrapins will be learning their third offensive system in as many years. While Locksley’s offense will be reminiscent of Maryland’s philosophy under James Franklin — the former coordinator, now Vanderbilt head coach — the latest coaching move will have the Terrapins’ heads spinning, as you’d expect.

And any development that the program’s many transfers made under Edsall is for naught, seeing that each will be taking that growth elsewhere for the remainder of their college careers. And that several of those transfers were either starters or battling for a starting role will greatly impact depth, which hurts Maryland across the board.

But this is old news. The only reason to discuss it now is that for roughly an hour yesterday afternoon, starting quarterback Danny O’Brien seemed to be the next player to walk out of the door; while O’Brien refuted the report of his transfer, several media outlets, including The Washington Post, have intimated that O’Brien is leaning heavily towards leaving the program.

O’Brien isn’t happy. He’s upset over his deteriorating standing on the depth chart; the unquestioned starter after a terrific redshirt freshman season in 2010, by the midway point of last fall O’Brien found himself embroiled in a competition for the starting job with C.J. Brown, the more mobile and athletic of Maryland’s two options.

The only way O’Brien does return, in my opinion, is if Edsall and Maryland come out and anoint him the starter prior to the start of spring ball. There’s very little chance of that happening — Locksley wants to see both quarterbacks, of course, and putting O’Brien back atop the depth chart might lead Brown to transfer, which Maryland doesn’t want.

It’s an ugly time for the Terrapins, and one that could potentially grow worse, should Edsall botch the delicate situation brewing at quarterback. It’d be hard to alienate both O’Brien and Brown; if any program could, however, it would be Maryland — based on how Edsall has mishandled the roster he inherited from Ralph Friedgen a year ago.

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  1. Adam Nettina says:

    Paul, why does everyone seem to think Locksley will be that much of a recruiting guru at MD? Yes, he has a track record, but he also has a track record of being a lunatic. Given the nature of negative recruiting these days I can’t think other school’s aren’t going to be hammering this home. I just don’t see how having him as an assistant is anything less than a liability. If memory serves, Edsall had some transfer issues at UConn too, right?

    Paul: While at Illinois, Locksley went into the Maryland-D.C. area for several top recruits, including Arrelious Benn. Has, or had, some cachet among high school coaches in the region. Whether he still has that draw after what happened at New Mexico remains to be seen. I think the rest of the A.C.C. has plenty of negative ammunition to throw Maryland’s way on the recruiting trail.

  2. Hokieshibe says:

    It’s almost depressing how such a solid roster was decimated so badly by a coaching change. Maryland was coming off of a great season when Edsall came in with a young roster, and now it’s a train wreck.

  3. Joel says:

    I hate to say it, because as a Clemson fan it reflects badly on the ACC when Maryland stinks it up. But it really serves them right for the way they ditched the Fridge.

  4. taylor says:

    How was he so successful at building a program at UConn and then to have this disaster go on at Maryland? Same thing with Turner Gill too. While it wasn’t the flashy hire that Leach could have been, everyone thought highly of Edsall and that he would be a solid coach.

    While not a fan of UM (mainly due to their fans), I agree with the previous comment of this serving them right for how they fired Friedgen after a nice tenure and a great season.

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