Coaches in very different situations
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Marshall's and Maryland's respective football programs are in different places.
And I'm not referring to the dissimilar geography of Huntington, W.Va., and College Park, Md.
It's the pervading atmosphere that's even present here during preparations for the Military Bowl at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
Take Marshall, for example.
Athletic director Mike Hamrick wanted the media to know Herd coach Doc Holliday was contacted by Florida Atlantic about the Owl's vacant head coaching position. He wanted MU's fans to realize Holliday is coveted by other colleges. He wanted everyone to appreciate that Holliday was loyal to Marshall and told FAU he wasn't interested.
Athletic director Kevin Anderson was in the opposite situation. Despite the Terps going 7-5 and reaching a bowl game, the criticism of coach Randy Edsall continued.
In fact, Maryland's welcoming ceremony in the historic Mayflower Hotel was punctuated by Jenkins having to give Edsall a vote of confidence. That's because a post on TerrapinSportsReport.com claimed Maryland planned to buyout the remaining three years on Edsall's contract if Maryland loses to Marshall.
So, when Anderson introduced Edsall here, he chose some pointed words.
"Our football coach, my football coach Randy Edsall," said Anderson, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper. "He's my guy. Whatever those blogs have just been posted are not true."
See the distinctively different places?
Any pressure on Marshall's Holliday is self-imposed. But the pressure on Maryland's Edsall comes from both without and within.
Add that to the list of intangibles playing a role in this bowl game.
HE'S MY BROTHER: That's why there was nothing heavy about Duke Edsall officiating Marshall's 121-57 win over Alice Lloyd on Dec. 17 in the Henderson Center.
You see, Duke is the brother of Maryland's Randy Edsall.
Yet, everything was light-hearted about the coincidence of Edsall officiating a basketball game involving his brother's football opponent in the Military Bowl.
"When I told Randy I was working this game at Marshall," said Edsall with a grin, "he said I should get to Huntington a little early, so I could stop by the football stadium and do a little scouting for him."
The friendly banter didn't stop when the game began.
At one point, Marshall coach Tom Herrion reportedly told Edsall the only reason he made that call was because Marshall's football team was going to beat his brother's team.
Edsall planned to be in Annapolis, Md., on Friday to support his brother and Maryland's team in the Military Bowl.
PIVOTAL OPPONENT: That's what Virginia Tech was for both Marshall and Maryland.
For Maryland, the 27-24 overtime win at Virginia Tech was a defining turning point, leading to a strong, positive finish for the Terps. It was a statement game that led Maryland to the Military Bowl.
But for Marshall, the 29-21 triple overtime loss in Blacksburg, Va., set a negative tone for road performances that plagued the Herd for the rest of the season. It led to a loss at Middle Tennessee, struggles at FAU and Tulsa and, eventually, an alarmingly one-sided defeat at Rice in the Conference USA championship game.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.
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