Now that preseason practice is underway across the ACC, Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich have decided to tackle one burning question -- Who is under more pressure to win now, Virginia coach Mike London or Maryland coach Randy Edsall?
Andrea says: London has everything in place to win
So you want to talk about pressure to win right now? Let us take a looksee at what London has in Charlottesville headed into 2013:
Only one winning season in three years at Virginia. (Must win ASAP!)
A roster with only a handful of players he did not recruit himself (His own guys are in place!).
A revamped coaching staff, featuring over 100 years combined experience (He has seasoned vets to help!)
A schedule that features eight home games (Talk about an advantage!)
No quarterback controversy (For once!)
A recruiting class for 2014 ranked in the Top 16 already (Gotta keep 'em together!)
Add up all these pieces, and, well, London has got to win right now. He is going into Year 4, not Year 1 or 2. His system is in place. His players are in place. He knows how to coach (one FCS national championship, one ACC Coach of the Year award), and he certainly knows how to recruit (four five-stars in the 2013 class, including ESPN 300 Taquan “Smoke” Mizzell).
Another 4-8 season to accompany the 4-8 seasons in 2010 and 2012 is just not going to cut it. In three years, London has won eight out of 24 conference games for a winning percentage of 33 percent. Simply put, there is no such thing as longevity for coaches that cannot produce over an extended period. Today, four years is considered an extended period.
Now, there is no question London faces a bear of a nonconference schedule this year, with games against BYU and Oregon to open the season. The nonconference slates will be difficult for the forseeable future thanks to some aggressive scheduling. This is a fact of life London has to deal with, and he has made no excuses for them. In fact, he has embraced the challenges, as he should.
But let’s forget about the nonconference schedule. Because that has no bearing on the first objective -- winning the ACC. Virginia plays in the most wide open division in the league. In-state rival Virginia Tech was down last year; Miami has major problems to address on defense; North Carolina has to replace its three best players; Georgia Tech needs to find consistency both on offense and defense; Pitt is new; and Duke has a new starting quarterback and defensive problems to address as well.
I completely understand the argument for Edsall, especially given the Terps’ future in the Big Ten. But expectations for Maryland in the Big Ten cannot be the same as expectations for Maryland in the ACC. Virginia, on the other hand, is in the most winnable division in the league and London does not have to worry about playing in a tougher conference.
He has everything in place.
Heather says: Edsall is the one with the warmer seat
London has already been named the ACC’s Coach of the Year and taken his team to the Chick-fil-A Bowl during his tenure at Virginia.
Edsall is 6-18 in two seasons at Maryland, with only three conference wins -- that’s three ACC wins, for those of you who might be confused by allegiances these days.
Both coaches have something to prove this fall, but the seat in College Park is a wee bit warmer.
It’s now or never for Edsall, because if he can’t win in the ACC, he’s not going to win much next year in the Big Ten. And clearly, athletic director Kevin Anderson has no problem swapping coaches -- or conferences.
This year, the pieces are in place for Maryland to take a significant step forward. The program has more than one playmaker to complement standout receiver Stefon Diggs, including highly touted junior college transfer Deon Long, and much-improved receiver Nigel King. Three starters return to the offensive line, and the quarterbacks -- all of them -- are finally healthy after four were sidelined last year with injuries. The defense will have to rebuild after losing some of the team’s top leaders from 2012, but with three starters returning, the secondary should be a strength. Equally as important is a friendly nonconference schedule that includes FIU, Old Dominion and Connecticut. With first-year coaches at the helm, it’s a good time to take advantage of Boston College, NC State and Syracuse in the Atlantic Division.
Ohio State. At Wisconsin. At Penn State. Michigan State. At Michigan.
Whew. Good thing Rutgers joined the Big Ten.
London will go through a gauntlet of a schedule this year, with BYU, Oregon and Clemson all coming to town. Virginia, though, currently has the No. 16 recruiting class in the country. The Hoos have a brand new shiny indoor facility to show off. The Terps are playing from behind in both categories, as Edsall told the Baltimore Business Journal this past spring that Maryland will be the only school in the Big Ten without an indoor practice facility, and will have the smallest weight room in the conference.
Recruiting isn’t going to get any easier for Edsall as long as facilities continue to lag behind.
To be fair, last year wasn’t just forgivable for Edsall, it was to be applauded. With four quarterbacks injured, that coaching staff found a way to win four games with a backup linebacker heaving passes. Maryland lost three games by a total of eight points and lost five games by 10 or fewer points. With C.J. Brown returning at quarterback this fall, expectations are automatically higher.
Expectations, though, were higher when Edsall was hired.