This blog has been unabashed in taking Maryland coach Randy Edsall to task since the start of the 2011 season. Since arriving in College Park, Md. he’s done very little but allow the team to dress like clowns, become an ACC laughing stock, surrender a 27-point lead and push out former starting quarterback Danny O’Brien. The subject of this post will mostly focus on that last one.
Of the 12 players Edsall’s lost to transfers for this coming year already (yes, it’s that many), O’Brien’s departure last week — along with the departures of Mario Rowson and Max Garcia — hurt the most. Heading into 2011, O’Brien was a standout sophomore on to bigger and even better things for a rising Terps squad. Instead, injury and a lack of faith from his head coach led to a drawn out QB controversy with the mobile C.J. Brown. It was a precipitous fall for O’Brien, since the only big changes for the program from one year to the next were Edsall’s arrival and former offensive coordinator James Franklin’s departure. Franklin is now the head coach over at Vanderbilt. Enter controversy:
The murmurs about Franklin tampering with all three players, but specifically O’Brien, started immediately. These rumors, of course, were pushed along by Randy Edsall’s ridiculous stipulation that none of the departing players could attend Vanderbilt. Normally, the atrocious practice of blocking transfers allows for definite future opponents — specifically conference foes, whom Edsall also prohibits here. But with the Commodores failing to appear anywhere on the Terps’ current schedule, it appears downright odd for this additional note. Hence where the tampering speculation comes in. Keep in mind that all of the talk is completely unfounded.
Lucky for O’Brien, he has an opportunity to appeal the unorthodox restriction. Even if he doesn’t attend Vandy (and I’d be hard-pressed to believe he’d go anywhere else if he’d bother with an appeal), the methodology Edsall takes here is not based in any legitimate reasoning beyond possibly playing them in the future. But can’t the same be said of any potential school a transfer enrolls in? And if this case is allowed, how far-reaching can restrictions get? Coaches should not be allowed to hold kids hostage in their programs (or force them out of FBS-level competition) if things just aren’t working out. Yet, it seems we’re headed in that direction. For O’Brien’s sake, and the sake of future transfers across the country, we should hope his appeal is successful.
Along the same vein of conversation, it’s also worth noting this CBS Sports piece by Gregg Doyel. Doyel points out the hypocrisy in Edsall’s thinking, and sees the same dangerous precedent we spell out above.