When word first leaked out last week that Maryland coach Randy Edsall would not allow three ex-Terrapins to transfer to Vanderbilt, we compared the situation to a recent dust-up Derek Dooley experienced. Tennessee’s coach tried to prevent receiver DeAnthony Arnett from transferring to Michigan State in January — a program UT is not scheduled to play — because — we believe — Dooley felt MSU coaches had tampered with his player.
We said at the time that Dooley couldn’t win that PR battle whether tampering had occurred or not. And he didn’t. We said the same when comparing Edsall’s stance to Dooley’s last week. And — turns out — he indeed couldn’t win the PR battle either.
Maryland’s coach today gave quarterback Danny O’Brien, offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson a free release to Vanderbilt if they want it. In fact, he gave them a free pass to transfer anywhere they like. However, according to The Baltimore Sun, “Maryland is pursuing the matter of possible tampering through the schools’ respective conferences.”
As you know by now, VU’s James Franklin was the offensive coordinator in College Park before taking over in Nashville and he admitted late last week that he does maintain relationships with his ex-players. A school is not supposed to encourage a player to transfer unless that school has been given permission to communicate with said athlete.
Edsall — like Dooley — probably had reason to be upset. However, both coaches failed to realize that the “spin” of their situations in headlines and tickers — and by rival recruiters in parents’ living rooms — would be that both coaches are punitive and do not have the best interests of their players at heart. Lose and lose.
That’s why in both instances the coaches have backed down.
“While at first I thought it was important to limit the institutions to which they could transfer, I have since reconsidered my decision” Edsall said in a press release today. “At the end of the day, I want what’s best for these guys and I wish them well in their futures. As a program we are looking forward to putting this distraction behind us and to moving forward. Spring practice opens on March 10 and we can’t wait to get back out on the field.”
O’Brien is the most likely of the three players to land at Vanderbilt. The quarterback was the ACC’s Rookie of the Year in 2010 under Franklin, but he struggled in 2011 and fell out of favor with the Terps’ new coach.
So expect O’Brien to soon announce his intention to transfer to Vanderbilt. But we’ll have to wait to hear what — if anything — Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford say about Edsall’s formal complaint that Franklin tampered with one of his players.