The Big Ten Conference just got B1GGER (get it? - I hate myself sometimes) with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland for the 2014 season. Head coach Randy Edsall, who previously allowed former quarterback Danny O'Brien a release from his scholarship to transfer to Wisconsin back in 2012, took to the podium Monday at the Hilton in Chicago to talk about the transition to a new conference, recruiting, and if he watched the ACC Media Days (his answer was amazing).
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THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach Randy Edsall. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH EDSALL: It's a pleasure to be here on behalf of our University of Maryland, our athletic department, and we're very thrilled to be a part of the Big Ten Conference and everything that it represents and stands for. And I know that the three young men that I brought here today with me have been very, very impressed with what they've seen so far. And three outstanding guys that you'll get a chance to talk to and visit with.
And C.J. Brown, our professional student, who is back for his sixth year, leader of our team as a quarterback, outstanding young man from Pittsburgh who hopefully has all the injuries behind him now. Had a good year last year, and we expect big things out of him this year as we look forward to this season.
We also have Jeremiah Johnson, a young man who is a defensive back for us, that is coming back off an injury from a year ago, fully recovered now, and has been a great leader for our team since he's been at Maryland and somebody that's 100 percent healthy now and ready to go.
And then also Stefon Diggs, our wide receiver, a junior wide receiver who has come back off his injury, and ready to go this year and fully recovered and really has done a good job this offseason.
But three outstanding young men. C.J. is into his master's degree. J.J. has his degree, and Stefon's doing an outstanding job in the classroom.
Just to give you a little bit about who we are at Maryland and what we're all about. One of the things that we really believe in, and I think it fits into what the Big Ten is all about, we're a program that really believes in developing our kids holistically, and that means that we're going to develop them as students, as athletes, and as people, and to make sure that we provide them with all the things necessary so they can go on and be successful once their academic career is over, athletic career is over. And that's something that we take a lot of pride in and it's something that we're able to attract young men to come to Maryland.
The one thing that we want to do also is we want to be able to win at the highest level and win the right way and to make sure that we're providing these young men with opportunities that maybe they didn't think they could get, but also what we want to do is we want to provide them with better opportunities than what myself and our coaches have had for ourselves.
So we know we have a tremendous challenge that's ahead of us this year as we enter the Big Ten, but one that we're really looking forward to.
We have ten new opponents that we have to prepare for. So the spring and the summer has been a whirlwind for us as coaches from the standpoint of getting to know the teams here in the Big Ten that we're going to be going against and understanding their personnel, understanding their schemes and what they like to do.
But, again, we're also looking forward to the fact that being a member of this conference, because of what this conference stands for academically, the collegiate model that it represents in terms of helping the student‑athletes grow as students and as athletes. With that, I'll open it up to any questions.
Q. Have you sought any advice from other coaches about making a move to a new league?
COACH EDSALL: We've talked to some of the other coaches, but the good thing for me is the fact that I've been involved with this quite a few times in my career, having gone to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the expansion team, going into the league there as an assistant coach, and then also made the jump from 1‑AA to the Big East.
So again, the biggest focus I think that we've had to have for us making this move is really just finding out who the other teams are and studying what they do, but also what we have to do is make sure that we continue to do what we do and continue to make sure that we get better.
So that's been our whole focus is continuing to work on making ourselves better and enhancing what we do, but getting an understanding and getting a feel for all the teams in this outstanding league. And I think we've done a good job with that throughout the spring and summer.
Q. I'm not asking you to look past your first game, but your first five. I want you to describe what's that atmosphere going to be like at your place when Ohio State comes in the first Big Ten home game?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I think it will be electric. I think it will be a sold‑out crowd. It will be something that I know our fans are looking forward to. Ohio State is a program with great tradition and history and one that has done very, very well. And it will be something that I think everybody that's in attendance and everybody that gets a chance to watch on TV wished that they were there, because I think it will be a ton of excitement, one that I know we're looking forward to as well as all the other games we're going to play.
Q. Wondering, coming from the ACC, is there a certain type of player that you recruit when you're in that conference, and is there another type of player that you have to turn your attention to towards recruiting in the Big Ten now?
COACH EDSALL: The thing that, from a recruiting standpoint, we have a philosophy of who we are offensively and defensively and what we want to do special teams. We're not going to change the type of young man that we want to recruit to the University of Maryland just because we're coming to the Big Ten.
We have things that we believe in and what we want to do and all's we're going to do is we're going to continue to recruit that model and continue to recruit the business student‑athletes that we can that fit what we want at the University of Maryland.
And again, we want to recruit the biggest, the fastest, the strongest players that we can in order to give us a chance to be able to compete for championships here in the Big Ten. And the one thing that we have seen by being a part of the Big Ten now is it's really enhanced our recruiting.
We've expanded a little bit from our foothold that we were in, and kids want to be a part of being in the Big Ten in terms of the exposure that you get through the Big Ten network. The opportunity to play Bowl games in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Detroit, that's something that's very, very appealing.
And so again, we're already seeing those benefits from a recruiting standpoint, but we're not going to change the model that we have based on maybe what everybody else does.
Q. I asked Coach Flood this question, I'll ask it to you as well: The move for your two schools came very quickly, it seemed at least publicly, from one league to the other. From a football standpoint, what was your initial reaction to this and just overall maybe the story behind the scenes about how quickly this all came about?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I just think it's an outstanding move for our institution. Not only from a football standpoint, but also from an academic standpoint, to be a part of the CIC and the consortium, those things.
I think everybody's a winner, and I think that's what, really, college athletics is all about and what institutions are all about, that everybody benefits from this, not just our student‑athletes, but our students in general and our faculty.
And it was something that I wasn't privy to. I just know that I had a discussion with my athletic director, Kevin Anderson, and he asked me about the possibility‑‑ what I thought about the possibility of going to the Big Ten. And I just told him I was all for it. I think it would be a really good move for us and one that I would embrace, and I'm sure that I know our players would embrace, to be part of the history and the tradition and what the Big Ten stands for.
So the thing is, I'm just glad that we're finally to the point now where we can go and play games. It has been a long time, it seems, to get to this point. But I'm glad we're here, and I'm glad it's getting close to August and starting practice and getting the opportunity to compete against these outstanding programs and institutions that we're going to compete against.
Q. Just curious, your first go‑around here with the Big Ten Media Days, did you keep an eye what was going on in Greensboro last week with the ACC Media Days? Was it tough for you to let that go, so to speak?
COACH EDSALL: No. I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of St. Thomas.
So, again, change is inevitable in life, and what you do is you embrace change. And at the end of last season, we pretty much put it forward that this is where we're going and this is what we have to concentrate on. And this is what our future is.
And, again, I've got to make sure that I keep everybody doing those things and looking straight ahead and concentrating on what we have to.
So it's great to be here in Chicago, to see everybody here and be part of this. It's really a lot of fun.
Q. Penn State had some success recruiting in your area for those faster, stronger players they talk about. How do you compete against a program that James Franklin brings?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I think when it comes to recruiting, there's always a philosophy that you have a profile that you're going to recruit. And a lot of times, some of those guys that maybe go elsewhere don't fit the profile that you're looking for. And we know that we're in an area where there's going to be a lot of schools come in and recruit where we're at. The thing we just stay focused on is just recruiting that profile and recruiting that young man that fits what we're looking for.
And recruiting is a very competitive, very competitive game, and we're going to go other places into people's states and recruit people from there.
So again, I think the biggest thing with recruiting is getting the guys that fit what you're looking for. And it also comes down to this: I think you have to be a staff that is good at developing those players, because there's no player that comes into the program as a finished product.
And I think I have a great coaching staff. I know I have a great coaching staff of being able to bring young men in and to be able to develop them and them to be better than what people thought they would be or better than what maybe they thought they could be.
So getting kids on your campus is one thing. But it's what you do with those kids once they're on your campus that truly makes a difference in your program. And that's one of the things that we're starting to see at the University of Maryland, is we have 20 starters coming back and we have a lot of depth as these kids are getting better.
And to me, that's the real thing about recruiting. It's not only getting the kids there, it's getting them developed and making them better once they're in your program and they're there for the four or five years.