Randy Edsall deserves praise for hiring Brian Stewart, Mike Locksley

January 17, 2012|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

I have been critical of many things Maryland football coach Randy Edsallhas said and done over the course of his first season in College Park, but the moves he made in replacing his team's offensive and defensive coordinators are to be applauded -- on a number of fronts.

First, new offensive coordinator Mike Lockley is a huge upgrade over any assistant Edsall has brought on when it comes to recruiting. Locksley, too, consistently raised the performance of his offense in the four years he held the coordinator's position at Illinois under Ron Zook.

From everything I have heard about the former New Mexico coach, he is adaptable when it comes to the type of offense he can run -- something that Gary Crowton wasn't in trying to fit a pro-style quarterback likeDanny O'Brieninto a spread formation.

The hiring this week of Brian Stewart, which is expected to be announced today, is also a step forward after the Todd Bradford debacle. You can talk all you want about the injuries that left Edsall playing a lot of freshmen, but using a 4-3 defense that turned all-ACC safety Kenny Tate into a linebacker turned out to be the first of many bad moves by Bradford.

Stewart has a pretty solid track record, including in the NFL, but the job he did at Houston the past two seasons was particularly imppressive. In a pass-happy league like Conference USA and having not much rest between series given the Cougars' quick-strike offense, Houston's defense went from 108th to 62nd overall last year, including being ranked 35th in points allowed, 12th in pass defense efficiency and 10th in red zone efficiency.

Just from a recruiting standpoint, Edsall made two terrific hires. Locksley's reputation is this area is well-documented, and he has already used his connections in the Washington, D.C. to secure a couple of three and four-star recruits for next season.

Having two African-American coordinators should give the Terps another edge.

Not only is Maryland now the only school in the Atlantic Coast Conference to have African-American offensive and defensive coordinators -- Clemson is the only other school with one -- but the Terps might be the only school in a Bowl Championship Series conference to have two black coordinators.

When Edsall was hired a year ago, many high school coaches in the area questioned why he didn't hire or retain any assistants will local ties except for Lee Hull. The hiring of Crowton, who was being pushed out of LSU, and the promotion of Bradford from linebackers coach after he was forced out of Southern Miss as defensive coordinator, also proved to be horrible choices.

Obviously, it's going to be the players Edsall and his staff can recruit that will have a bigger role in Maryland's rebuilding from last season's 2-10 freefall. Fans are not going to show up to watch Locksley and Stewart coach, but it's a big step in the right direction for a program badly in need of one.

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