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Edsall puts his faith in progress with new contract extension

17h

Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson has faith in the progress the football program has made under Randy Edsall in the past four years. Edsall must have a lot more faith that his team will continue to improve in the future.

Anderson agreed to extend Edsall’s head-coaching deal for an additional three years through 2019, the university announced Tuesday afternoon. The new terms of Edsall’s deal include an immediate raise that brings his annual salary to roughly $2.1 million and another raise coming in 2017 that bumps him up to 2.5 million. In return, if Maryland decides to fire Edsall between Jan. 16, 2017 and Jan. 15, 2018, his buyout will be a modest (by coacing standards) $500,000. After that, there’s no buyout at all.

In other words, Edsall agreed to coach the second half of his contract with little or no safety net. If the Terps don’t continue on their current upward trajectory, Anderson won’t have to reach too deep into his pockets to start looking for a new coach. That’s a risk Edsall is apparently willing to take.

Many thought the 56-year-old coaching veteran was on thinning, if not thin, ice heading into his fifth season at Maryland. He got off to as rocky a start in College Park, winning just six games in his first two years on the job. He rubbed many folks around the program the wrong way while trying to instill his brand of discipline on a team that won nine games the year before he arrived. Edsall acknowledged those first two years were tough during an interview this spring, but he said he thought the culture he wanted at Maryland was largely in place at this point.

“We’ve got a lot of it established. We still have something we have to work on because you’re always striving to be better,” he said. “I feel really good about where we’re at in terms of all the guys understanding how to hold themselves accountable and each other accountable.”

The past two years have brought consecutive seven-win seasons, which includes a 4-4 conference record in the team’s Big Ten debut last fall. The team has also raised its Academic Progress Rate from 922 (one of the lowest in the FBS to 973 this year. Edsall said he thinks the improvement in the classroom is a precursor to improvement on the field.

Anderson said he believes that too.

“Our program is headed in the right direction,” he said in Tuesday’s press release. “[Edsall] has established a culture in which our students have made strong progress academically with outstanding graduation rates. We have made progress, and we will look to continue to build upon what we have established with our goal of competing at the highest level in the Big Ten.”

Improvements on the field have helped Maryland’s recruiting in the past couple months, especially in getting verbal commitments from some of the elite in-state talent. That progress, and a good first year in the Big Ten, convinced Anderson it was time to extend Edsall’s contract. The extra stability should give the coaching staff another boost in recruiting.

However, Anderson, speaking with the Baltimore Sun last week, also made it clear that seven-win seasons aren’t going to cut it forever. Eventually Edsall’s team will be expected to be in the running for conference championships. If they’re not headed in that direction two years from now, Anderson made it pretty easy for the Terps to head in another direction. The new extension is a nice reward for the steps Edsall has taken so far, but a better deal for Maryland.