Ambrose vs. Edsall: Can apprentice beat mentor?
In the days after Randy Edsall was hired at Maryland, Towson coach Rob Ambrose fielded a number of calls from the media about their matchup eight months down the line. It was originally scheduled for Sept. 3, but later moved to Saturday to accommodate a nationally televised Labor Day night game between the Terps and Miami.
"Being a Towson alum, it's momentous that we are actually going to be on the same field with Maryland," Ambrose said back in early January. "Being a D-I school for 20 years, to finally have the opportunity, we're finally moving in the direction that everybody always felt was good to get their attention. So that alone is exciting enough.."
As for going up against his former boss at Connecticut, where he had served as offensive coordinator until returning to his alma mater two years ago, Ambrose said, "Randy and I have been on the same field together for many years, and that's not strange. Normally we're wearing the same colors. I haven't really spent much time thinking about it while I'm recruiting, but I know everybody else is having fun with it."
Now, on the eve of the first ever matchup between the two state schools, only one of them is having fun with it.
Guess who that might be?
Ambrose has everyone excited about football at Towson after his team's 3-0 start, which includes the school's first win over a ranked team (then-No. 20 Villanova) in four years and its first-ever win over longtime nemesis Colgate.
In the aftermath of the Colgate game last Saturday, Ambrose talked about how "it’s been a long time since you can wear black and gold around with a little bit of swagger." He even joked about wearing uniforms by Under Armour, though a lot more traditional and a lot less hyped than Maryland.
Down the road in College Park, the mood is not so jovial for Edsall. First there was the 38-7 throttling by Temple at home last Saturday. Then there was the flak Edsall took for taking some shots at the way his predecessor ran the program, though never mentioning Ralph Friedgen by name.
Now comes the matchup that Edsall and Ambrose talked about last January. Had it been the season opener, it would have been a feel-good story with the two reflecting on their relationship and their years together in Storrs.
Towson would have started 0-1, not 3-0.
Maryland would have started 1-0 with a lot less buzz, and scrutiny, than happened after beating the Hurricanes.
This week, there was hardly any mention of the coaching matchup given the respective moods of the teams.
If Edsall is "tighter than a piano wire" on a good day, as colleague and Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd suggested a couple of weeks ago, can you imagine what it's going to be like unless his Terps take control of the Tigers early?
Ambrose, who has had his share of angst after winning two games his first season and one game his second, has nothing to lose Saturday. It's an awkward position to be in, knowing that his team's success against the Terps could come at the expense of his close friend and mentor.
Eight months ago, this seemed like a gimme for the Terps.
Now, it's a lot more intriguing, isn't it?