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Bickel’s Blog: Shut Up And Win

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Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

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I have to say I’m quickly losing any zeal I may have had for new Maryland football coach Randy Edsall.  There’s no denying I was upset with the way Ralph Friedgen’s departure was handled.  Maybe it had to happen maybe it didn’t.  I don’t know.  Either way I’m certainly not objective on the matter.  I liked Ralph.

Still I was begrudgingly willing to accept whoever Maryland hired because at the end of the day I’m a two time graduate of the University and I love my alma mater. To be completely honest, if Ralph had to go I wanted the school to hire Mike Leach.  We interviewed him on the radio a few times and he was fantastic.  I thought he’d be great in College Park. When that didn’t happen and Randy Edsall became the guy, I was willing to support him.

The first thing that kind of annoyed me was de-emphasizing the Terrapin logo and Terps nickname and making Maryland the primary focus of the program.  I admit, this is a petty little thing.  But I never particularly identified myself with the state of Maryland when I was a student there.  I was a proud Terp.  I don’t care about Turtles either. But for some reason I felt like being a student in College Park meant being a Terrapin and not as much about representing every backwards town in Maryland.  Nevertheless, I will stipulate that this is minor and probably just a pet peeve of mine.  Regardless it did bug me.

Coach Edsall also announced that he was taking the names off the back off the jerseys and making it all about the team and less about the individual.  For some reason, this bugged me too.  I felt bad for the kids that worked so hard to earn scholarships to the University and couldn’t wait to have their own names on the back of their jerseys. Can you imagine how proud a player and his family must feel to see their names on the uniforms representing the University?  To take that thrill away seemed a little sad to me, but I understand the overall point.  No biggie in and of itself I guess.

Then we get to Uniform Gate. It’s cool to change uniforms every once in a while.  It’s not like we have the football tradition of Penn State or Alabama.  We need to stay current and give the kids what they want.  But my God do we have to make such a big deal about the uniforms?  Do they have to be so damn ugly? This topic has been killed in talk radio and the blogosphere, so I won’t rehash in this space.  Needless to say though, it’s ok to talk about your uniforms when you’re winning.  Beating Miami on national TV made those awful state flag things almost tolerable.  But when you get blown out by Temple, now it’s not as endearing.  I don’t care which of the 67 different combinations that you’re wearing either. Nobody cares when you lose.

Obviously, losing is the root of most dissatisfaction with the program. Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post was one of the first to report that players have already grown weary of the militaristic nature of the new regime.  The emphasis on things like being clean shaven, no hats in the building, no jewelry, etc has taken it’s toll on the players that were used to a completely different atmosphere.  One reporter told me there seemed to be a sense of a near mutiny by some of the players.

You better believe the players noticed when Coach Edsall took on the most prominent and most respected member of the team in Danny O’Brien too.  Sure O’Brien hasn’t played up to his standard from last year. But most thought he deserved more rope after being the ACC Freshman of the year and the unquestioned leader of the football team.

People also noticed when he took shots at the previous staff.  To suggest that this was a rebuilding job was insulting to Ralph and to the kids that finished 9-4, and won a Bowl Game last season.  Edsall later tried to clarify his comments and say he wasn’t trying to denigrate Ralph.  But the damage was done.

What finally put me over the edge was another annoying comment after another MD loss this time to Florida State.  Edsall made a point of saying he was going to put more of an emphasis on recruiting speed and athleticism.  As if nobody in College Park had ever thought of that.

Personally, I think Torry Smith and Darious Heyward Bey were pretty fast.  So was Vernon Davis.  I think Shawn Merriman was basically a combine freak too.  All of those guys were recruited by the previous coach.  I guess we need to remind Edsall of that.

It’s so annoying because the first thing EVERY college coach says when he’s hired in a new spot is he’s going to recruit speed and athleticism. Who doesn’t do that?  It goes without saying.  Nobody thinks you’re going to recruit slow guys.  And if you think it’s not a shot at the previous staff- well we strongly disagree.

Speaking of the former staff, I’d personally appreciate it if Edsall stopped tweeting about all the NFL players that are playing this Sunday or Monday night.  You my friend, had nothing to do with those guys. They aren’t part of your legacy.  In fact, they are a part of the legacy that you keep going out of your way to trash.

You know what your legacy at MD is Mr Edsall?  It’s getting blown out by Temple for the first time in school history.  It’s blowing a huge lead to Clemson on homecoming.  It’s being 2-5 with a team that was 9-4 last season.  You want to change all that?  Shut up and win.

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