There was never anything official about the possibility of Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien reuniting. But from the moment the school announced that O'Brien was leaving, the speculation began.
It made sense. While Franklin was Maryland's offensive coordinator back in 2010, O'Brien, who will graduate this spring and has two years of eligibility remaining, was named the ACC's rookie of the year after passing for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns. O'Brien is even quoted in Vandy's media guide as saying that “Coach [Franklin] was a big factor in my decision (to attend Maryland). We have a similar passion for the game, and I thought he was the coach to mold me into the player I thought I could be.”
Needless to say, the two got along and worked well together. With O'Brien a free agent and Vanderbilt's starting quarterback spot not exactly locked up, why wouldn't Franklin make a run at his old quarterback?
However, that might not be possible if Maryland coach Randy Edsall has his way. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Edsall won't grant O'Brien permission to transfer to Vanderbilt. Under the stipulation, O'Brien can still attend Vanderbilt, but not with a football scholarship.
Usually, coaches don't allow players to transfer to schools that are in the same conference, are rivals or are future opponents. That's totally understandable, but Vanderbilt doesn't fit any of those descriptions. There's a chance these two could play in a bowl game. I'm sure that at some point in the history of college football a player who has transferred elsewhere has faced his former team in the postseason.
The fact that Edsall won't allow grant O'Brien permission to transfer to a school that isn't likely to have any sort of negative affect on Maryland is baffling.
Edsall also forbid two other players who requested to transfer from heading to the same 16 schools (mostly ACC schools and future nonconference opponents) as O'Brien, including Vandy. When pressed about the issue, Edsall told Comcast SportsNet’s Chick Hernandez that all of the players were treated the same, but he never specifically said why Vanderbilt was off limits:
“We had stipulations in there, the same schools for all three of them,” Edsall said. “And so neither of the three were treated any differently than the other guys. And again, I’m not gonna get into the names or anything like that [of] the schools that we put on there, because as we talked to the players, it was a situation where we said that we would keep that amongst ourselves.
“But usually what’ll end up happening is there’s gonna be schools on there that you might compete against, or if there’s things that you feel might have taken place, you might put schools on that list. So we have that prerogative, to put those schools on the list. The players have the prerogative that if they want to appeal that, that they can appeal that as well.”
The problem is that there really isn't much of a reason to put Vanderbilt on this list. He bolted from UConn to Maryland because it was his "dream job" but these players can't head to Vanderbilt to finish out their football careers?
It's all very silly, really, as odds are that Edsall won't have to see either O'Brien or any form of the Commodores anytime soon. Vanderbilt certainly won't stop Maryland from competing for an ACC title.
So what gives? One theory is that maybe some premature contact occurred between Vanderbilt and the Maryland players, so that could very well be a turnoff. Maybe the fact that Franklin coached at Maryland and now has Vanderbilt trending up, while Edsall is coming off a 2-10 first year at Maryland has something to do with it.
Regardless, this isn't the best situation for Edsall. Our own ACC blogger, Heather Dinich, already wrote that Edsall handled the O'Brien situation poorly from the start, and it doesn't look like he's handling the finish well, either.