Randy Edsall will be introduced in a couple hours in College Park, but it's a safe bet athletic director Kevin Anderson will be the one peppered with more questions if the format allows it.
Something was very, very clear from fielding Twitter queries from Maryland fans on Sunday: Most of the reaction covers the range of complete disinterest to disgust with a hire that pretty much no one believes will be inspirational enough to quickly build back a season ticket base.
It will be curious to hear what Edsall and Anderson have to say. In a vacuum, it would be a good, solid, competent choice. Maryland would have a coach who just won a conference title (albeit in a feeble league) and has rattled off four straight seasons of at least eight victories taking over a talented and capable roster.
But it wasn't in a vacuum, and while the level of Edsall's coaching acumen can be debated and his most impressive feat might be stabilizing Connecticut so quickly upon its move to Division I-A, his resume does not exactly proclaim "transformative excellence" --- the catchphrase that campus president Wallace D. Loh will now surely be remembered for by Terrapins fans for a long, long time.
At the least, it doesn't move the needle locally, and that means Maryland's financial woes aren't going away as a result of the hire. The money problems will only be fixed with winning big --- and immediately.
That all factors into this analysis of winners and losers from Edsall's decision to leave Connecticut after a dozen years.
WINNER: Randy Edsall
This is the guy who will be getting a bit of a salary bump (he made $1.55 million this year, plus $100,000 for going to a BCS bowl) and a slightly better job, and he'll take over a program poised to enjoy a nice run in the next few seasons. Meanwhile, Connecticut just played in a BCS game and could be hard-pressed to repeat that soon with (a) Texas Christian joining the Big East; (b) South Florida getting closer to getting its act together; and (c) Pittsburgh and (in a year) West Virginia discarding tactically outmatched coaches. Edsall got while the getting was good, and was smart to do so.
LOSER: Mike Leach
Unlike the old rum commercials, it's safe to say Maryland doesn't have a little captain in it. Leach was the favored choice of fans who wanted to see fireworks on and off the field, and he surely would have made Maryland relevant on a regional and national stage. But he is a complete wild card, certainly not a controllable commodity and he padded his record at Texas Tech with dreadful nonconference schedules. Against BCS conference teams not named Baylor, he was 43-39. That's still better than Edsall, but his unpredictability worked against him at Maryland --- and will elsewhere as well.
WINNER: Danny O'Brien
In all probability, the rising sophomore will have the chance to develop in a pro-style scheme. That sort of system is best for Maryland in the short-term and for O'Brien in both the near-future and over the long haul. Leach's Texas Tech quarterbacks own two career NFL passing attempts; for O'Brien's career, this move has a chance to work out quite well. Plus, when UConn did have a decent quarterback in Dan Orlovsky, he threw for a combined 6,800+ yards and 56 touchdowns in his final two seasons in Storrs. O'Brien's talents won't be ignored.
LOSER: Rich Rodriguez
One less soft landing spot is available for Rich-Rod, whose name seems connected to every job, open or not, even though he is 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan (including a frightful 3-13 after mid-October) and no Michigan coach has gone on to coach at another Division I school since Tad Wieman (1927-28) had a stint at Princeton after his time in Ann Arbor. Rodriguez never made a ton of sense for Maryland, whose fans weren't particularly fond of him during his time at West Virginia. But with his future uncertain, it doesn't hurt to look elsewhere. Maryland and Pittsburgh were the best available elsewheres this week.
WINNER: D.J. Adams
Connecticut has produced a 2,000-yard rusher (Donald Brown in 2008) a rusher with nearly 1,700 yards (Jordan Todman with 1,695 in 2010) in the last two seasons. Adams is a bruising, punishing back who set Maryland's freshman record with 11 rushing touchdowns (including four in the Military Bowl). While Davin Meggett will likely be in line for a solid senior season, Adams is the tailback who stands the most to gain from an emphasis on a power running game over the long haul.
LOSER: Maryland's bottom line
It will be players, not a well-compensated coach, who are ultimately responsible for saving Maryland from its financial mess. And realistically, that won't happen substantially until 2012. Common sense suggests season ticket sales will see a modest increase --- Maryland was good last year and will no doubt market the heck out of O'Brien in the next eight months. But it's unlikely the hire will generate a ton of excitement among Terps fans, and that makes it an incredible lost opportunity to send season ticket and luxury suite sales surging (or relatively so). Maryland is buried locally and in dire straits financially as it attempts to support a 27-sport athletic department, and the additional of Edsall does nothing to change that. Only winning will.
WINNER: Maryland's offensive linemen
Offensive linemen are asked to basically serve as space-filling obstacles in Leach's scheme and are needed to work in a vastly different blocking scheme in Rodriguez's offense. Edsall's hire means a bunch of guys mostly recruited for at least a pro offense (and some for a power rushing scheme) will be able to play to their strengths. One possible downside: After Maryland spent so much time emphasizing lean mass and agility the last year or so, will linemen be asked to put the weight they lost back on?
This isn't the first time I'll write this, I fear, but it needs to be pointed out: Maryland didn't fire Ralph Friedgen to hire Edsall. It fired Friedgen because he had one year left on his deal, was compromised in terms of coaching and player recruitment and retention and Anderson clearly didn't believe he was the long-term guy.
A coaching change with a firing is rarely one choice. It's usually two --- the first to get rid of an old coach and the second to go hire a new one. Friedgen's dismissal can be debated; it's valid to ask why he didn't receive a contract extension to avoid the whole mess. But this shouldn't be framed as a Friedgen vs. Edsall debate. Rather, it's two arguments: Friedgen or no Friedgen? And Edsall or Leach or Rodriguez or whoever?
WINNER: Haroon Brown and Taylor Watson
Both fullbacks will be seniors next year; with Leach in charge, they would have basically toiled on special teams (or been forced to transfer down to play) in their final seasons. Maryland's tight ends get to retain some relevance in a pro-style system as well, but Brown and Watson have reason to be particularly grateful they'll get the chance to close out their careers in a meaningful role.
LOSER: Kevin Anderson
The new Maryland athletic director has some 'splainin' to do this afternoon, but the media is far more likely to be mollified than two particularly disenchanted elements of the fan base: The Leach-or-bust crowd, and the group that still can't figure out why Friedgen was dumped after a 75-50 run over 10 years. Anderson cited a "strategic business decision" when he announced Friedgen's dismissal, but it's difficult to see the business end of things thriving, at least not initially.
This could work out for Anderson in the long term; it's impossible to know for sure. But for now, Anderson is going to wind up taking a lot of heat, though it will be curious to learn how much influence others had in this process. With this level of hire, it isn't often one person gets to make the choice by themselves.