This preseason, few would have compared embattled Maryland coach Randy Edsall to Virginia's Mike London, the toast of Charlottesville since he arrived in 2010. But this year has brought regression to the mean.
While the Terrapins (3-2) have been a pleasant surprise, the Cavaliers (2-4) have been surprisingly terrible. Were it not for a horrific kicking performance by Penn State, Virginia would be riding a five-game losing streak.
Saturday when Maryland travels to Charlottesville, the Terps hope the teams continue to trend in opposite directions. History says it's probable. Five of the last six years, the winner has been the road team. Another footnote is that three of the last five years, the man who has guided the winner of Maryland-Virginia has been named ACC coach of the year. In each of the cases, it was downhill from there.
Virginia's Al Groh, ACC coach of the year in 2007, went 8-16 the following two years and was dumped. Ralph Friedgen's departure from Maryland came within weeks of being named 2010 ACC coach of the year. London (2011 winner) is following suit, though his ability to attract top high school talent indicates his program was built to last.
Perhaps the lesson here is that football success is elusive at Virginia and Maryland. Despite their close proximity to recruiting hotbeds Baltimore, Washington and Hampton Roads, neither can sustain because they don't have the avid fan bases of ACC schools such as Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson.
- Kevin Dunleavy