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Rick Snider: Last year for Edsall to try things his way at Maryland

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Sports,College,Rick Snider

Maryland's football team has seen many changes since the end of Randy Edsall's disastrous 2-10 debut season.

The Terrapins have a beautiful new field that can lower ground temperature by 20 degrees. There will be no more late-season games in a mud pit.

The Terps now have sharp, classic uniforms with a touch of the Maryland state flag on the helmets instead of last year's clown outfits.

Players no longer will be part of a faceless machine now that their names have returned to the jerseys.

The cosmetics are nice. But there's still a big problems remain for a program that melted down last year, saw its top quarterback transfer and is looking at a 4-8 season.

Edsall hasn't changed his core approach. Oh, he surrendered on the uniform names and changed both coordinators, but the blame for the team crashing from a bowl victory in 2010 to the basement in 2011 was all Edsall's, and his recent comments show little growth.

"It's a whole new year," Edsall said. "Everything that I have envisioned when I came here is coming together. Everything's building. We didn't stray in what we believe in. All things are leading to where we want them to lead to.

"Don't be afraid to make tough choices and stick to your guns regardless of what people say on the outside."

Believing in yourself is fine. Good leaders don't rule through polls. But when the results are awful, it's time to rethink strategy. Firing you top aides after a year is scapegoating. Letting 2010 ACC rookie of the year quarterback Danny O'Brien leave, responding with a snarky comment and blocking him from Vanderbilt was petty and unproductive.

Many fans didn't like Edsall last season, and the only way to turn around public opinion is to win. If the Terps can improve to 5-7, then Edsall stays. Otherwise, Maryland needs to eat his contract because a bad choice won't get better, and the small crowds from last season will only get smaller.

Maryland has a chance to open 3-0 before it faces West Virginia and the ACC schedule. Most likely, the Terps will be fortunate to reach 2-1.

Meanwhile, the home slate has awful draws. William & Mary, Connecticut, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Georgia Tech won't fill Byrd Stadium. The home finale against Florida State will attract some Seminoles fans, but they haven't traditionally traveled well to College Park. After cutting seven sports, Maryland can't afford crowds of 15,000.

The real wild card is C.J. Brown, the only experienced quarterback on the roster. Brown missed 11 games in 2010 with a shoulder injury and parts of two games last year after hits. Brown's excellent mobility makes him a solid quarterback, but if he gets hurt, the Terps are doomed.

"We've got to do whatever we have to do to win," Edsall said. "We can't play cautiously or be afraid to do things C.J. can do to make us better."

Edsall is doing it his way. He gets one more season to prove it's the right way.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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