It has been a while since putting together one of these posts and a lot has happened since the last one. Pittsburgh hired a coach, Vanderbilt stole Maryland’s coach in waiting which led to the buying out of Ralph Friedgen’s contract, Randy Edsall went from the Fiesta Bowl to fill the vacancy at Maryland, Miami (Ohio) hired an offensive coordinator’s whose team was abused by Alabama’s defense in the Capital One Bowl, and Pittsburgh fired their newly hired head coach.
Let’s focus on two of the more recent coaching status updates. I wrote last night that I am a fan of Maryland’s decision to hire Edsall from Connecticut. To me, if Friedgen is not going to stay in charge then Edsall may have been the best option out there. I was never a big fan of the possibility of Mike Leach taking over the program despite all of the early buzz suggesting he would be the best pick by the Terps. Take away his relationship with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, a former Maryland football player, and what does Leach have that Edsall does not? A pass-heavy offensive mindset that is flawed and would not work in a conference like the ACC. That’s what.
Instead the Terps went with Edsall. A safe pick but also a solid one.
Edsall may have reached the top of the mountain with the Huskies, which resulted in the school’s first trip to a BCS game – the Fiesta Bowl – and a second Big East championship. Honestly, it’s not likely that Connecticut is ready to become a power in the northeast despite the BCS trip this season. Connecticut still won only eight games this season and went to the BCS by way of a tiebreaker. Many would tell you they did not belong in the mix this season as 11-1 (now 11-2) and co-Big Ten champion Michigan State was relegated to the Capital One Bowl and 11-1 Boise State packed their bags for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Either team was more worthy of a BCS invite but Edsall’s team won the Big East’s automatic invite to the BCS fair and square. Nobody can take that from them.
Edsall realizes that he had accomplished great things on the Connecticut sidelines. Edsall took the program through the transition of moving up from FCS to FBS, he dealt with tragedy along the way, and stuck with the team through four years as an independent and handled a premature move to the Big East (the conference brought the Huskies in earlier than planned after the departure of Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC). Maryland will expect great things from Edsall. If his hiring can create a charge of excitement for recruits, then this will be a solid move by the Terps. Edsall is not a flashy guy, but I have a good feeling about the combination.
As for Pittsburgh, someone’s job should be in jeopardy. That someone is athletic director Steve Pederson.
One quick glance at a Pittsburgh message board, as daring as that can be at times, shows the tone of Panthers fans today. Pederson went the search firm route to find a new head coach after it seemed that Dave Wannstedt was forced to resign (a deserved decision by the way). That search firm suggested Pederson hire Mike Haywood, with two years of head coaching experience behind him and coming off the biggest turn around in Miami (Ohio) history an a MAC championship. It was a move I was critical of from the start and one that Pederson likely regrets making. Haywood, two weeks after being hired by Pittsburgh, was jailed for a suspected domestic violence charge in South Bend, Indiana. In the 24 hours following that trip to jail Haywood told reporters that “the truth will come out,” and Pittsburgh released a statement saying that he was no longer the head coach. His final coaching record at Pittsburgh is 0-0. George O’Leary thinks that is embarrassing.
So now the Panthers are once again looking for a head coach. Which way do they go now? Only time will tell, but I will once again suggest that Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley should be the leading candidate for the Pittsburgh job. I said the same thing six years ago.
Keep an eye on Jim Harbaugh
A number of reports suggesting this morning that Jim Harbaugh could be on his way out of Stanford after tonight’s Orange Bowl. Harbaugh is the hottest name in coaching circles in both college and professional football. There are rumors that Harbaugh could be a candidate for the opening with the San Francisco 49ers but there is also a thought that he could be heading to Michigan to replace Rich Rodriguez.
I said multiple times over the past couple of weeks that the only way Rodriguez gets canned by Michigan is if the Wolverines get blown out in the bowl game and give up 60 points. Well, Michigan lost 52-14. Is that close enough?