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Edsall Yields, Clears Ex-Marylanders To Transfer To Vandy

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.”

Uh-huh.

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.

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Report: Diggs Will Choose Maryland

The soap opera of Stefon Diggs‘ recruitment should be coming to an end this afternoon.

The athlete from Olney, Md., is expected to announce his intention to sign with Maryland, according to a report from the Washington Post. Diggs has also considered Auburn, Florida and Ohio State.

Diggs’ announcement is scheduled to take place at 6 eastern time at Looney’s Pub in College Park, according to 247Sports.

The fact that Diggs will announce his decision in College Park would appear to be a sign that he will choose the in-state Terrapins. But Diggs hinted on twitter Friday morning that he could “shock the world” with his choice.

“Even my own city might be mad at me,” Diggs wrote.

One thing is for sure: A lot of people will be mad at Diggs if he chooses to delay his announcement one more time.

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Malzahn Might’ve Passed On Maryland Opportunity

A month ago, there was no doubt that Vanderbilt and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn were in serious talks regarding Vandy’s head coaching job. 

Malzahn turned the job down and received a raise to $1.3 million per year on The Plains for doing so.

Last week word came that Maryland was interested in chatting with Malzahn about its own vacancy.  Only this time, the rumors never actually moved from simmer to boil.

But according to Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News it might have been Malzahn who cooled the Maryland talk. 

“I believe Malzahn was interested in Maryland, and vice versa, and I understand the two sides did talk,” Scarbinsky writes.  But the two parties did not speak face to face.  Only two candidates interviewed in College Park and toured the campus — Mike Leach and Randy Edsall.  UM’s athletic director said a third candidate declined an invitation to come to Maryland’s campus.  Scarbinsky believes that candidate might have been Malzahn.

Scarbinsky believes that Malzahn might have passed on Maryland because of the timing of the Terps’ opening: “Had he taken the Maryland job this close to kickoff against Oregon — after Auburn opened the vault to raise him to $1.3 million a year — people would’ve blamed him.”

A little aside here — When we see a writer pen consistently glowing columns and articles about a subject, we tend to think that the subject has become a source for the writer.  And Scarbinsky has written many, many, many nice things about Malzahn this season.  So if a connection does exist between the writer and the coach, the “Malzahn chose not to pursue the Maryland job” spin could be coming from the coach himself.

But it’s also possible that Scarbinsky is simply speculating based on contacts not named Gus.

In that case, we can speculate, too.  It’s possible that Malzahn knew that he didn’t have a great shot to land the Maryland job and therefore chose not to upset the folks in his own backyard.  AU backers likely wouldn’t have appreciated Malzahn chasing yet another job right after he was given a mondo raise for nixing VU’s advances.

Maryland could have hired Leach, but instead the school chose to go the safe route and bring in UConn’s Edsall — a fact that’s been met with yawns in College Park.  Malzahn has never been a head coach in college and was coaching in high school just six years ago.  So it’s certainly possible that UM officials would have viewed Edsall as a safer pick than Malzahn, too.

Whatever the reason, Malzahn and Maryland never truly acted on their mutual interest.  And Auburn fans are plenty glad about that heading into Monday’s BCS title game.

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Leach On Campus, Malzahn Believed To Be On The List, But Friedgen Warns Of Maryland Job (While Vandy Fans Watch)

Ralph Friedgen — the ACC’s Coach of the Year in 2010 — coached his Maryland Terrapins to a 51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl yesterday.  It was Friedgen’s last game as he’s being forced out after a decade at his alma mater.  The Terps finished 9-4 this season.

We could write a good bit about the above paragraph.  Fired at 9-4?  At Maryland?

Instead, we’ll focus on what’s next in College Park.  Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was reported to have been touring the Maryland campus Wednesday.  He is expected to officially interview for the job today.  His close relationship with the founder of Under Armour — who just happens to be Maryland’s biggest booster — has made Leach the presumed favorite for the UM job.

If Leach isn’t the guy in College Park, Gus Mazlahn might be.  ComcastSportsNet Washington reported earlier this week that Auburn’s offensive coordinator has already spoken in some fashion with Maryland reps.  Gene Chizik admitted the “possibility of contact” between the school and his aide.

But Leach and Malzahn might want to listen to Friedgen’s comments as he exited stage left yesterday.  Like Tommy West at Memphis a year ago, Freidgen held little back.

“I can tell you this — it’s not an easy job.  There’s a lot of things that really have to change to help it reach its potential.  And, to be honest with you, I don’t know if the university is willing to do that.  You’ve kind of got to know that going in.  … What happens to a lot of coaches who come to Maryland, they think it’s like every other place, and after their third year they realize it isn’t, and they’re stuck.

“People are concerned about my legacy, and my legacy is what it is — 75-50. … I gave it the best I had for 10 years, and obviously that’s not good enough right now, and that’s what hurts. … I leave the job a lot better than when I got it, so if someone else can come in and do better, my hat’s off to them.”

Leach — with his off-the-wall style and his high-profile — probably could do better than Friedgen.  Malzahn?  I’m not buying that one.  The man was coaching a high school team six years ago and no one knows about his ability to play CEO at a major university.  He could be great, he could be a flop.  Other top-notch coordinators have flopped.  Bob Davie, anyone?

But the interesting thing is this: The two men most Vandy fans wanted for their job were Leach (wasn’t going to happen… ever) and Malzahn (almost happened).  Instead, VU wound up grabbing Maryland’s old coach-in-waiting.  But Maryland had no intention of keeping James Franklin or handing him the head coaching reins.  Instead, Maryland apparently had its eyes on the two guys most Vandy fans wanted.  And one of those two might grab the Maryland job only to learn that it’s got its own sizable share of problems, just like Vanderbilt… if Friedgen is to be believed. 

Just an odd little roundabout.

(Oh, and that might be the longest headline we’ve ever written.)

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