How quickly things can change in the sports landscape. As Danny O’Brien was leading the Terps down the field in the waning minutes of the WVU game, many of us fans were dreaming of a new era in Terps Football where Bowl appearances are assumed and Top 25 polls were watched. But since that interception to seal the Mountaineer victory, nothing has gone right in College Park.
As someone who writes about Maryland sports, I try to be really careful from jumping from one extreme to another. Sure I may have a million thoughts in my mind that I want to put out there, but sometimes waiting for things to settle out is the best way to go. That is why neither of us wanted to write much after the Temple game. You just need a little space to sort of think things out. And 9 times out of 10 you are left feeling like waiting was the right decisions.
But after this Temple disaster, I just can’t seem to shake myself out of this Terps induce malaise. This loss was historically bad, and will not soon be forgotten. We all know our team is going to lose every now and then, and no one was expecting the 2011 Terps team to finish up 11-1, but to not compete is just simply not acceptable. When I was a student at Maryland we had some rough football seasons. We never had a winning year, and we got kicked around good and plenty. But I don’t remember anything like this loss.
The trouble we have here in Maryland is that we have a certain core group of fans who are always going to be there for the team. We are the alumns and the lifelong fans. What is also unique about Maryland is that outside of this core, we have a HUGE reservoir of potential fans. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this huge reservoir is a fickle bunch, and they can afford to be. Maryland Football (or Basketball) isn’t the only game in town.
Now the key to Maryland is to grab this reservoir and cultivate these part time fans into lifelong die hards. How do you do that? Well you win games. Plain and Simple. Winning games brings buzz. Buzz brings fans. Buzz doesn’t come easy, but it can sure be killed in a single afternoon.
I know Coach Edsall is still new, and we need to give him some time. But the Temple loss just can’t be swept under the rug. That kind of loss can kill a fickle fan base. Edsall is an old school disciplinarian and it will take time for the student athletes to adjust from Friedgens way of doing things.
However, I can’t say I’m particularly in love with the way Coach has responded to the Temple effort. It seems like he is blaming the players and the previous regime. OK, I know you can throw your players under the bus to get them to perform better, but be careful attacking the Friedgen Era. Ralph certainly isn’t perfect, and he made some mistakes that Edsall will now have to deal with (like limited practice time).
But keep in mind. Friedgen wasn’t driven out of town. A large percentage of us were not happy to see him go. Of those that were ready for a change, a majority of them were for the change thinking Mike Leach was waiting in the wings. So even those who had lost faith in Friedgen weren’t clamouring for Edsall. So to win over this fan base, and to hold on to this fan base, Edsall needs to stop bashing Ralph Friedgen.
The key to success is putting butts in the seats, and getting bullied by Temple and moving our home games vs. WVU and VT to Baltimore is not the answer. The honeymoon is not over yet, and I feel a 6-6 season is still within our reach, but things need to change quick and the responsibility falls on the CURRENT head coach and athletic director. Turn this around or take responsibility.
We are standing at an abyss and another Temple like performance could make the natives very restless. Granted based on the contracts we aren’t going to be firing anyone anytime soon, but things could get ugly, and an empty Byrd Stadium isn’t going to make the process of going from “Good to Great” any easier. The responsibilty is entirely on Randy Edsall and Kevin Anderson, and it is their job to fix this…the clock is ticking.