PINEHURST, N.C. -- Football coaches crave entering the season in the shallow end. Give them a home game against an overmatched FCS school and they're happy.
Especially a coach just starting at a new school.
For Al Golden and Randy Edsall, introduction to Atlantic Coast Conference football is an immersion in the deep end. On Labor Day night, Golden's Miami Hurricanes must travel to face Edsall's Maryland Terrapins. They have the national stage to themselves, but with potential high reward comes undeniably high risk.
The winner feels great. The loser is a game back in the conference standings and facing 12 days of second-guessing before playing another game.
"I don't prefer it, but didn't have much say in the matter," Edsall said. "We had Towson scheduled, then a week off and then West Virginia. … But it's a great opportunity for us, great exposure, on our home field. Once it's set, you move on and go forward with it."
Joked Golden: "Maybe because we were new, we drew the shortest straw."
Among the added dynamics to the game is the fact that Edsall was considered a finalist for the Miami job that went to Golden. Then Edsall wound up leaving Connecticut for Maryland when the Terrapins fired Ralph Friedgen.
The two new coaches are transplants from the northeast: Golden, a former Penn State player, arrives from Temple; Edsall comes to College Park after 12 years at Connecticut. Both have work to do changing the culture.
Edsall encountered academic deficiencies at Maryland that have led the Terrapins being penalized for a low APR score. The Terps have lost three scholarships and had their 20-hour practice week trimmed back as well.
"There were some things we really needed to clean up from an academic standpoint," Edsall said.
For Golden, the job is to eliminate a popular word from the Miami football lexicon.
"I'm so tired of talking about swagger," he said. "Swagger was the byproduct, it wasn't the product. It came from demonstrated performance and having a chip on your shoulder and being the hardest-working team out there.
"I think [fans] want to see us play with passion, I'll concede that. Last year, they did not. We're working on that. But I think fans want to see results. … I'm just tired of everyone thinking [lack of swagger] is the only problem we have."
Golden's Week 1 opponent, Edsall, certainly is not lacking for swagger.
"I have a tremendous amount of confidence in my abilities, I'll tell you that," he said. "Everywhere I've been, I've won."