Quarterbacks Bob Avellini, Stan Gelbaugh, Shaun Hill, Mark Manges, Alan Pastrana, Jack Scarbath and Scott Zolak all made the leap from College Park to the NFL, but none of them passed for as many yards during their three or four seasons at Maryland as Danny O’Brien did in just two.
Despite a disappointing and injury-shortened sophomore year in a new less pass-happy offense, O’Brien was on pace to shatter the Terps’ career mark with 8,172, more than 1,500 yards better than anyone else in school history other than current record-holder Scott Milanovich, who’s at 7,301.
But Milanovich et al can rest easy about their spots in the Maryland record books now that O’Brien has decided to transfer in the biggest black mark yet in what has been an ugly 13 months under coach Randy Edsall.
While athletic director Kevin Anderson, who has only been in College Park for 17 months, looks like he made a fine hire in men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon, Edsall has made his boss look foolish for choosing a my way or the highway coach with a 74-70 career record at Connecticut of the less-than formidable Big East Conference.
Before he coached a game at Maryland, Edsall not only came down hard on some of his returning players for their lack of discipline off the field, he trashed predecessor Ralph Friedgen, an alum who had gone out with a 9-4 season that included a bowl game victory.
Then O’Brien (whose 22 touchdown passes in 2010 were the second-most in a quarterback-rich history that also includes Super Bowl starter Boomer Esiason) and the Terps started 2-2 with an upset of Miami (as O’Brien threw for 348 yards) but also a stunning home blowout by Temple. So when O’Brien started just 1-for-6 with an interception against Georgia Tech, Edsall benched him in favor of the less experienced C.J. Brown.
While O’Brien eventually reclaimed his job before suffering a season-ending broken bone in his non-throwing arm and although offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was recently replaced by Mike Locksley, the damage was done. And I’m not even talking about the shameful 2-10 season (1-7 in the ACC) in Edsall’s debut.
Now the only Terp to be named ACC Rookie of the Year in the 27-year history of the award has become the 12th player to leave the program since Edsall’s arrival. Sure, Edsall just signed a seemingly strong freshman class led by All-American receiver Stefon Diggs of Good Counsel, but a dozen players leaving on you in 13 months?
“I’m disappointed by Danny’s decision,” Edsall said in a statement released by the university. “Danny told me that he’s not committed to our program, that he’s not ‘all in.’ … Danny wants a fresh start elsewhere. I wish him well.”
But reportedly not well enough to let O’Brien transfer to Vanderbilt which is coached by James Franklin, Maryland’s offensive coordinator during his hugely successful freshman season. Edsall believes that the Terps lacked maturity before he arrived, but he’s the one looking childish here. It’s not like Maryland and Vanderbilt play each other.
But that’s Edsall’s way. It might work if he was winning, but after a 2-10 season whose final home games attracted crowds that wouldn’t have filled Comcast Center, let alone over-expanded Byrd Stadium, Edsall might want to speed-read Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People” before it’s too late for him to ever succeed in College Park.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of the new book: “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March.