In perhaps his most in-depth interview since becoming Maryland's football coach last December, Randy Edsall answered a variety of questions about the transition, his personnel and much more. Here's Edsall's Q&A transcript from today's installation of the Atlantic Coast Conference media conference.
Edsall arrived with intentions of giving Maryland's football program complete makeover, and he's happy with the progress thus far. (Paul Strelow Photo)
Q: I guess the first question you’ll invariably be asked is, how’s the transition going, and what’s the most difficult task you face?
The transition’s really been good. To me, the transition is being able to get the players to get on board with what you want to establish in your program. The one thing I really feel good about is all the young men in our program as we get started on Aug. 8 have bought into what we want to get accomplished. I’m very pleased with the direction we’re going.
We’ve had some obstacles to overcome, and we’ve done that. We’ve made tremendous strides in those areas.
Q: What were those obstacles?
I think they’ve been chronicled in the media. In terms of the APR issues we had, being reduced to 17 ½ practice hours in the fall instead of the 20 hours everybody else will get. Just some things we needed to clean up from an academic standpoint with some young men who weren’t in real good shape. We got that cleaned up, except for one young man. Everyone else is in good shape.
Q: Danny O’Brien was talking about the new terminology. How has he adapted to what you want?
One of the things we tried to do, anytime you come in and take over, there are different things you’re going to do schematically. But we tried to do some things with our offense, and even defensively, to try and keep some of the terminology the same. We’d adjust rather than the players.
You know, Danny’s one of those guys, he’s a rare individual. I haven’t been around a lot of guys like Danny in terms of how he prepares and how he studies and how important the game is to him. He really wants to know everything that’s going on, and I knew that from the very first meeting I had with the team on that Sunday night.
Edsall on O'Brien: "I knew he was the kind of quarterback I wanted. He’s got a chance to be very special." (Chris Blunck Photo)
I asked for questions, and a couple of guys had them. Then Danny said, “I have two. When are you hiring your offensive coordinator, and when am I getting the playbook?” So I knew he was the kind of quarterback I wanted. He’s got a chance to be very special.
Q: You threw out the first pitch at an Orioles game. Did you warm up in Roanoke for that?
No, I didn’t warm up for that. But my brother came up, and I was throwing some in the backyard. I was throwing some heaters, and he gave me some grief. He said I threw it harder in the backyard to him than when I got to the mound.
You get out there, and it’s something you haven’t done, and the butterflies start to sink in. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t pull a John Wall.
Q: Do you sense the fan base warming up to you?
I do. Again, anytime you go into a new situation, once people get the chance to see you, meet you, feel you, touch you, then they get a better idea of what we’re going to stand for and do. But the thing I never worry about, I don’t worry about pleasing everybody. If I think I have to please everybody, we’re not going to be as good as we need to be, and I’m not going to develop. I’m just going to do the things I think are right for our program, and I think people will appreciate the things we do. I think we’re seeing that.
You’re never going to win everybody over. I’m not trying to win a popularity contest. I’m trying to develop young men. And develop a program that withstands the test of time.
Q: Stylistically, what led you to hire Gary Crowton?
Well, Gary and I had coached together at Boston College. Gary was the quarterback coach, and we’d go against each other each day, and I’ve always had great respect for Gary, the mind he has and what he does offensively.
When I was at Connecticut, I had brought Gary in to speak to our coaches. I just have a world of respect for him. When he’s been able to do the things he likes to do offensively, he’s been very successful. So I think we’ve got a good one.
Q: Contrast what he does against what your offense looked like at UConn.
Our philosophy is going to be what Maryland does best because of the personnel we have. But he and I are both on the same page in terms of what we need to do and get done. We’re going to be up-tempo, very aggressive, multiple. We’re going to do the things we feel our personnel can do.
As any coach, that’s what you always do. You try not to do things they’re not good at.
Q: How much time have you had to really study other teams in the league?
Well, you don’t know them as well as you’re going to know them after a year. There’s teams in your division you’re definitely going to know. But then again, that’s one of the reasons why I kept two guys from the previous staff – Tom Bratton, an offensive line coach, and Lee Hull, who’s a receivers coach. They have a good book on all the teams very well.
Then there’s hiring Andre’ Powell, a lifelong ACC coach who’s been at North Carolina, Virginia and Clemson. That gives us a little bit of an advantage.
Plus, when we were at Connecticut, we had the chance to play a lot of the teams in the ACC. North Carolina, with Butch (Davis) being there. Paul (Johnson) at Georgia Tech, and also while at Navy. Then B.C., you knew about by being in that neck of the woods. We played Virginia – not while Mike (London)’s been there – and Wake Forest a couple of times.
So I had a pretty good feel for that. We’ve spent time watching all those opponents in the ACC.
Q: How is the running back competition shaping up?
I feel good about the personnel there. Davin Meggett, I love him. He actually agreed with me on one thing so far, so I’ve really made a lot of progress with him since I got there.
Only thing I know is, when I watch him on film, he’s one of those guys you look at and say, “Wow.” He gets it done. He runs fast enough not to get caught. I’ve seen some pretty good running backs in my time, but he’s one of those who has a way about him who’s very impressive.
D.J. Adams is a young man who is very powerful and runs very hard. And then we have Jeremiah Wilson, who we moved from defensive back who was a little bit nicked up in the spring. I know we have him in the right position.
Q: Do you prefer a workhorse back or a committee/rotation?
A lot of it depends on your guys. I’ve been in situations where we’ve had a workhorse and I’ve been in situations where we had two guys run for 1,000 yards in one season. It gets back to personnel. If one guy can do everything for you, you’re going to use him. Then again, you may have one guy who catches the ball out of the backfield better, so you use him on third downs more.
To me, you always have to have two because it takes the pressure off one guy. We’ll alternate those guys to give him a blow.
Q: What did you see out of Kenny Tate that prompted the move to linebacker?
When you come in to a new situation and you watch the tape and you see Kenny – 80 to 85 percent of the time, he was down 7 yards within the line of scrimmage. I’ve always been a big believer we always have our best 11 guys on the field. When you took a look at where Kenny played, and you factored into the equation you had Matt Robinson and Eric Franklin sitting there at safety who have very good ability … if you keep Kenny at safety, you have either Matt or Eric not on the field. You’re doing a disservice to your team, and I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do as a coach.
It just made every sense in the world and put him into a position where he can make plays for us. And it’s a position he was basically playing a year ago.
Q: How do you feel about opening a conference game on Monday night?
I don’t prefer it, but I didn’t have much say in the matter. We had Towson scheduled for that date, then we had the week off and were going to play West Virginia. But then we were told we were going to play Miami on Monday night.
It’s great exposure, so the only thing we can do is play the schedule given to us. It’s given us the opportunity to know, hey, we’re coming out the gate with a very tough opponent, so we need to be ready.
This is the issue you have with television. As you know, everyone’s nonconference games are usually scheduled five years out. We had a game scheduled for Sept. 3, contract with Towson, and then because of TV obligations the ACC has with TV partners, they have a slot there for that game, and it’s usually been Florida State versus Miami.
You’d like to play all your nonconference games the first four weeks, at least I would, then get yourself into conference play.
When you schedule your games, you’re really trying to put the plan together because you see as a coach what you’re going to be losing, what you’ll have coming back, and how you’ll best be able to prepare your team for conference play. But, like I said, it didn’t work out that way, so we do what we have to do.
Q: Your thoughts on two items John Swofford brought up, multi-year scholarships and cost of attendance?
Totally against the multi-year scholarship. What we have right now is a one-year renewable scholarship where we can recommend it would get renewed unless they flunk out of school, get in trouble with the law, the university dismisses them or the drug program. I don’t think that needs to change.
As far as cost of attendance, the only thing I think is really fair – I’m all for giving some type of stipend to the players. The problem you get with cost of attendance and other issues is going to be it’s more costly to go to Boston College than Maryland. And cost of attendance can differ from school to school. Now, you get into the situation of, hey, if you come here, we can give you more money. Well, that’s an unfair recruiting advantage.
I do feel some things need to change because at our institution and others, there are certain housing arrangements on campus that don’t cover what the scholarship entail. So now men have to pay a little more to stay in the best housing, and from a recruiting standpoint, you want your kids to live in that kind of housing, but the scholarship doesn’t cover that.
That’s why I’d like to see the stipend. You have the Pell grant there, and that’s close to $5,500, whatever. So the kids who have a need can qualify for that, get it split into semesters, and that’s a good piece of change. But a lot of kids that get that, that money goes home and helps their own families.
I’m not for paying guys. How you come about a stipend number, that’s to be determined by other people. But I do think they should get some kind of monthly stipend.
Q: Doesn’t the one-year scholarship hold players more accountable?
They used to have the four-year scholarship and they got away from that because those were four-year guarantees, and people would quit the team yet still be on scholarship. I really believe because of the APR and other issues, I don’t see people running people off from their programs.
There’s a level of expectation that people have to meet, and it’s nodifferent for that as coaches. If you don’t, even though you might have a four-year contract, you might be out.
So I don’t understand why people want to go to a two- or four-year renewable situation.
Q: After being somewhere a dozen years, what’s it like to go into a new situation and have to learn everybody’s name?
It takes awhile. You try to make sure you look at pictures and put a name to face.
You tell them, hey, I may come up to you, and I may not know your name. So you ask them their name again. To me, it’s about trying to be as personable as you can. I thought that went pretty smooth because I spent time with each of them and wanted to know more about their families and other things about them.
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