I'll admit, I've never followed Maryland football as closely as basketball -- even during the best of times. But it'd be pretty hard not to notice the debacle that is this season, under head coach Randy Edsall. Edsall has had his hands full, and after another blowout loss last night (45-21 to Notre Dame) the Terps now have a 2-8 record and are 1-5 in the ACC.
Since Edsall is the guy to replace the beloved and rather successful Ralph Friedgen, Edsall's time at Maryland will undoubtedly be compared to everything Fridge accomplished. In 10 seasons, Friedgen compiled a 75-50 (43-37) record. His tenure had its ups and downs, but he also helped to turn around a program that had basically become irrelevant.
Here's the Terps' record in each of Friedgen's 10 seasons:
2001: 10-2 (7-1)
2002: 11-3 (6-2)
2003: 10-3 (6-2)
2004: 5-6 (3-5)
2005: 5-6 (3-5)
2006: 9-4 (5-3)
2007: 6-7 (3-5)
2008: 8-5 (4-4)
2009: 2-10 (1-7)
2010: 9-4 (5-3)
After Friedgen's first three seasons -- and really the first season, when the Terps went to the Orange Bowl -- the Terps struggled at times. They also never won more than nine games after 2003. But the only season that could compare to this one on the disaster scale is 2009, which is essentially the season that got Friedgen fired. Friedgen and the Terps turned things around the very next season, which made athletic director Kevin Anderson's subsequent firing of Friedgen even more awkward and hard for many fans to digest.
Edsall has said many times (mostly during the season, I believe) that turning around the program, or at least molding the program how he wanted, was not going to be easy. He has taken some thinly veiled shots at Friedgen and the poor condition in which he left the program, though that does seem a little ridiculous. Still, regardless of how bare the cupboard was when Edsall took over, there's no question that the Terps have been terrible.
Let's quickly compare Friedgen's worst season (2009) to this season. The comparison won't be perfect -- comparing different teams with different players and coaches, strength of schedule, 2011 season is still ongoing, etc. -- but should be interesting.
Wins: James Madison (38-35 in OT), Clemson (24-21)
Against ranked teams: #12 California (52-13), #21 Virginia Tech (36-9)
Outscored by 119 points (375 to 256)
Wins: Miami (32-24), Towson (28-3)
Against ranked teams: #18 West Virginia (37-31), #13 Georgia Tech (21-16), #8 Clemson (56-45)
Outscored by 98 points (324 to 226)
It's worth noting that in 2009, Chris Turner (who was not very good) was Maryland's quarterback. This year, the Terps had Danny O'Brien, who was named the ACC Rookie of the Year last season when he threw for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns, and (only) 8 interceptions. In his sophomore season, which is now over after he broke a bone in his left arm in last night's game, O'Brien has thrown for 1,648 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in Maryland's new spread offense. That's probably not the type of performance that many would have predicted in O'Brien's second season.
The Terps have two games remaining: against Wake Forest and NC State. Both are road games. It's possible that Maryland could win either of those games. Yet, it's also possible they lose by double digits in both.
I don't know the direction that Maryland football is headed in under Edsall, but there is some positive news: 1) Because of Edsall's contract and the athletic department's financial situation, he's going to be here for a while (meaning he should have the time to turn the program into what he wants, whatever that is); and 2) things can't get much worse.