Edsall's first move should be hiring Penn State's Johnson
Finally, Randy Edsall and Kevin Anderson seem to be in same time zone as Maryland fans -- real time.
Edsall, backpedaling his way out of a 2-10 season faster than any of his cornerbacks did the past four months, admitted to a Washington Post columnist Thursday something he had not said since taking over for Ralph Friedgen last January: that he made some mistakes along the way.
Anderson, trying to retain the smallest shred of a tattered fan base that had not yet abandoned the Terps since their opening-game win over Miami on Labor Day night, told my Baltimore Sun colleague Jeff Barker Friday that a "top to bottom" appraisal of the football program will be done, starting with a face-to-face meeting with Edsall Saturday night.
With the expectation that changes will be made on the coaching staff, here's the first move Edsall should make: offer longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson the position as defensive coordinator. And here is the first move Anderson should make: give Johnson the title of associate head coach.
It would help solve two issues: it would give the Terps the type of respected defensive presence on the sideline, or in the coaching box, that they lacked when Don Brown left last spring for Connecticut, Randy Shannon didn't come up from Miami (after being fired himself as the Hurricanes coach) and Todd Bradford, who had been hired as linebackers coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator. If anyone should be the scapegoat for this season's collapse -- culminating with the Terps giving up 35 points in the fourth quarter of their 56-41 season-ending loss last Saturday at N.C. State -- it is Bradford.
More importantly, hiring Johnson would be a significant boost for recruiting, especially in Maryland.
That should only be the start of the overhaul of Edsall's staff.
Based on early projections, this could be Maryland's lowest-rated recruiting class in recent memory. The next move is something Edsall should have done when he was hired last winter. He needs to hire a recruiting coordinator to help lock down the state's top prospects, as well as many of those coming out of Washington. The next offer should go to former Dunbar (D.C.) coach Craig Jefferies, who was hired by Mike Locksley at New Mexco right before Edsall came to Maryland. Locksley was fired early in the 2011 season and Edsall would be wise to bring Jefferies back from Albuquerque as quickly as possible.
And here's one more suggestion: I don't know what Gary Crowton's contract situation is, but I assume he received a multiyear deal when he left -- or was pushed out of -- LSU. Given Maryland's economic woes when it comes to the athletic program, paying off yet another coach would not be feasible. Bring Crowton back, but have him change the offense to suit Danny O'Brien, something that should have been done last spring before ignorance and arrogance got in the way. Unlike defensive end David Mackall and tailback D.J. Adams -- both of whom announced this week that they are leaving Maryland -- the sophomore quarterback seems willing to wait before making a decision about his future. Help make it for him.
These moves are not going to turn the Terps into a 10-2 team, or even an 8-4 team. It might not even help the Terps get to 6-6. But they would certainly change the conversation coming out of College Park these days, and perhaps give fans a reason to start paying attention -- and help pay the bills -- if Maryland slowly begins to move back in the direction Edsall, but very few others, believes they are going. Don't worry about the fact that Johnson is coming from a program that has gone from being revered to reviled.
Just as Anderson did last season after firing Friedgen, Anderson and Edsall have to move quickly.
They are now living in real time, and the clock is ticking.