Vanderbilt Makes Edsall’s No-Transfer List
By Paul Myerberg // Feb 14, 2012
If only Danny O’Brien, the former Maryland quarterback who yesterday officially declared his intent to transfer, had called Vanderbilt his “dream” school. Had he used such a phrase, it would have left Randy Edsall in the delicate position of having his own words used against him; if you recall, Edsall called Maryland his “dream job” last winter, and called the opportunity to jilt Connecticut for College Park a “dream come true.” As it was, O’Brien used no hyperbole: he merely indicated to Edsall that Vanderbilt was his preferred destination. Vanderbilt plays in the SEC, does not often go head-to-head with Maryland for potential recruits and has played Maryland only 12 times in its history, and not since 1987.
Edsall still rejected O’Brien’s transfer request, according to The Washington Post. Typically, programs deny transfer requests to three potential landing spots: conference rivals, geographic rivals and historical rivals. Vanderbilt doesn’t fit into any one of those categories for Maryland.
Preventing O’Brien from continuing his career in Nashville smells vindictive. The true reason why Edsall is rejecting O’Brien’s request? That would be because of James Franklin, the former Maryland offensive coordinator and current Vanderbilt head coach against whom Edsall’s rocky tenure has inevitably been compared. Edsall doesn’t look good in comparison.
So why is Edsall so worried about losing O’Brien to the SEC? It’s not because O’Brien will one day come back to bite Maryland between the white lines; the two teams may meet in bowl play, I suppose, but the odds are fairly slim. It’s more that Edsall doesn’t want to give more ammunition to those comparisons to Franklin, whose debut campaign was everything Edsall’s was not.
It was successful — beyond successful, actually. There’s a chance, based on how Maryland looked last fall and looks heading into this season, that Franklin will win as many games in one year at Vanderbilt than Edsall will win in two years at Maryland. Even if that turns out to be the case, it wasn’t about moving to a stronger team for O’Brien, but rather the opportunity to again play under Franklin, his former position coach and coordinator.
And the former coach under whom O’Brien tasted his only college success. In 2010, the then-redshirt freshman threw for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns; the Terrapins also won nine games, or seven more wins than Edsall posted a season ago. Why wouldn’t O’Brien jump at the opportunity to be reunited with his former coach?
According to The Washington Post, however, O’Brien isn’t the only former player prevented from transferring into Vanderbilt. Offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson, who have also declared their intent to leave the program, were subject to the same 16 schools on O’Brien’s no-transfer list: the entire A.C.C., West Virginia, Temple and the Commodores.
Including Vanderbilt on this list reflects terribly on Edsall, who can realistically cite no other reason to prevent former players from transferring to the program other than his own fear that, should a former player succeed in the SEC, his tenure will continue to pale in comparison to work Franklin is doing in Nashville.
This is Maryland today. Players are bolting in droves: 24 since Edsall arrived, 12 since the end of the last season. These transfers are prevented from playing at Vanderbilt, a program that rarely shares the same field as Maryland and even rarer still inhabits the same stratosphere. After a terrible debut, there’s been enough negativity since December to underscore the idea that the Terrapins are a long shot to make a worst-to-first jump in the A.C.C. Atlantic.
Worse yet, Edsall has created an environment where Maryland is competing with the Commodores — where the Terrapins are using the Commodores, whether out of fear or otherwise, as their built-in barometer. This isn’t where the program should be entering Edsall’s second season. Maryland should be weighing itself against Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the A.C.C., not a perceived rival located hundreds of miles and a conference away.
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