Thursday, April 28, 2011

Football prepares for Spring game

The football team is preparing for the Red White scrimmage this Saturday at Byrd Stadium. As you would expect with a mostly new coaching staff things will be a little different with many players switching positions and new schemes being implemented. Two notable switches include DB Kenny Tate moving to outside linebacker and LB David Mackall moving to a rush end position. The other linebackers will be shuffled as Demetrius Hartsfield will be moved to inside linebacker from outside and Darin Drakeford will be moved to outside linebacker opposite Tate. Hartsfield had a disappointing season last year but played at a very high level as a RS freshman. The trio are probably the most athletic group Maryland has had at linebacker in years. If they play up to their potential Maryland might not skip a beat after losing Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten to graduation.

In regards to defensive schemes coach Randy Edsall indicated they will play more press coverage with the cornerbacks. This will certainly be a dramatic change from the era of Chris Cosh and even Don Brown. Both preferred more zone defense from the corners. It will be interesting to see if corners Cam Chism and Trenton Hughes, who are both about 5'10" and 190 pounds, can play that kind of physical technique.

Replacing punter/kicker Travis Baltz could be a problem. Junior kicker Nick Ferrera got injured and lost the confidence of Ralph Friedgen but will be called on to carry the load this season. Punter Michael Tart will be coming in to replace one of the better punters in Maryland history. The last three punters that the Terps have rolled out, Brooks Barnard, Adam Podlesh and Baltz were All-ACC level players at the position so Tart has a daunting legacy to uphold.

I think the initial uncertainty behind the hire of Randy Edsall has subsided to some extent. The ultimate proof will always be how the team performs this season but the early returns are good. He inherited a poor academic situation from the former coach and athletic director that they have taken pains to remedy. Some of the staff hiring wasn't anything to get excited about but the early returns on the recruiting trail have been very good. There is a buzz about Maryland football among high school players that has been lacking for years. The introduction of a brand new uniform by Under Armor and a opening game against Miami Labor Day on ESPN will also help in that regard.

With NFL Betting about to get started with the lockout heading for a resolution former Terrapin wideout Torrey Smith will wait to see where he is drafted tonight. Let's all hope he gets into the first round like he deserves. Some other possible drafted players include RB Da'Rel Scott, Wujciak, Moten, Baltz and safety Antwine Perez. Besides Smith all the others figure to be mid to late round picks. In the past when Maryland has had good seasons they have seen multiple players picked in the following draft.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Falling Down

A good piece on how Debbie Yow's conspiracy theory outburst is playing outside of Raleigh in the Winston-Salem Journal by Lenox Rawlings. I think he pretty much nails it. Across the college basketball media spectrum from ESPN's Andy Katz, who called the sabotage claim "absurd", to Dick Vitale who characterized Yow's allegations as an excuse for her failure to hire the coach she wanted, to John Feinstein, who claimed she lashed out due to anger and embarrassment because she looked foolish, to the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker who was on ESPN's Outside the Lines show yesterday indicating this will hurt her more than Gary Williams this has been a PR disaster for Debbie Yow.

It is a beautiful day.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Schadenfreude, Yow'all

With the ending of the college basketball season and the spring football game still weeks off this would seem to be a dead time in Maryland sports. Thanks to former AD Debbie Yow that isn't the case any longer. Yow has gone from a constant source of annoyance and public relations disasters to a constant source of unintended comedy after she scurried out of town and went to Raleigh to take the same position at N.C. State. At the introductory press conference to announce the hiring of their human consolation prize Mark Gottfried after every other coach in college basketball had turned down her offer to coach the Wolfpack Yow suggested that Gary Williams had "sabotaged" the coaching search. This is what she said after being asked about her reputation for being difficult to work with:

I don't have a reputation across all of men's basketball of being difficult to work with I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on. We all know that, OK? So whatever. It's not a reputation. It's Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever.

 I don't know about you but the two "whatever" exclamations certainly convinced me. This is the genius of Debbie Yow. At a press conference that is supposed to introduce her new head coach, a guy who had been working at ESPN with all the other washed up coaches and athletes, instead of trying to instill some confidence in this shaky hire and drum up enthusiasm she made the story about her and Gary Williams. What Yow did was all but admit that Gottfried was not her choice to be the head coach at N.C. State and that Williams prevented her from getting the candidate she really wanted, perhaps VCU's Shaka Smart or Florida's Billy Donovan. I've written in the past that Yow seems to have an almost Nixonian level of vindictiveness and paranoia but she normally is good at hiding it. At the end of her tenure at Maryland she let it slip out too many times and it burned her but this was a true Captain Queeg moment that was at the same time spectacular, entertaining and repulsive.

For his part Gary Williams issued a statement that denied any attempts to influence the candidates for the N.C. State head coaching position.

I haven't talked to anyone — coach or athletic director — connected to the NC State search. I don't have any interest in the NC State search, since I'm coaching at Maryland and working hard to run our program. Anyone who says I've had contact with a prospective coach or athletic director regarding this search isn't being truthful.
And with the simple denial Gary Williams comes out looking better than Debbie Yow. Williams hardly needs to engage in a smear campaign against Debbie Yow. She has a well established reputation in coaching circles that, contrary to her opinion, is not good. She added to that chain link by link with her public spats over Gary Williams job performance and her failed attempts to get him fired. Now she has the audacity to try and distract Wolfpack fans from her failure to hire a high profile coach by blaming a whisper campaign from a rival coach. This pathetic excuse followed a bizarre letter sent to Wolfpack boosters the night before which all but confirmed that she had no idea where their coaching search was headed after their short list of potential hires all turned down the job. To anyone at Maryland who has heard stories about her modus operandi none of this is surprising. She has to be one of the most tone deaf athletic directors I've ever seen and that is a competitive title.

The fuse for this powder keg seems to have been lit by Yow lackey CBS Sports website columnist Gregg Doyle when he blew a gasket on a local radio show in North Carolina and accused Gary Williams of bad mouthing Yow at the Final Four in Houston and scuttling the Wolfpack coaching search. I discourage anyone from searching out Doyle's columns because his shtick is the internet equivalent of monkeys throwing scat at the zoo and to characterize him as a hack journalist would be an insult to clowns like Woody Paige and Skip Bayless. Doyle resorted to ad hominem attacks on Gary Williams instead of producing any credible evidence that Williams actually had any influence on other coached running from N.C. State like it was the plague. The fact is there are many coaches in college basketball who are friends with Williams (Tom Izzo, Coach K, Jim Boeheim, Kelvin Sampson, Rick Barnes to name a few) and his former assistants like Dave Dickerson, Jimmy Patsos, Rob Moxley and Chuck Driesell have plenty of stories to tell anyone who would ask about trying to run a basketball program under Debbie Yow. If you know how to use Goggle you'd have all the information you need.

To all Maryland fans out there who thought Debbie Yow was good for Maryland: do you get it now? I'm sure she'll have administrators and the N.C. State legal department sending out emails to Wolfpack blogs and message boards that publish something she doesn't like. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that Turtle Waxing received a cease and desist letter right after going public with my stance that Yow needed to be fired. Thank goodness that miserable shrew has moved on.

Monday, April 04, 2011

That could be Maryland

Anyone following the current debacle that is the N.C. State basketball coaching search should have a sense of why I was petrified of Debbie Yow having a role in picking the next head coach at Maryland. It seems every head coach in America has turned down the Wolfpack or their agents about taking the head coaching job even though they are offering one of the best salaries in the ACC and have a roster that promises to have some talent the next few seasons. Gary Williams doesn't need to mount a smear campaign against Yow as some have suggested, her reputation precedes her. In this case she is just reaping what she sowed. Thank god she isn't doing this in College Park.

In other news it was announced that Maryland would lose three football scholarships due to a low APR (Academic Progress Report) score. Another weight to put on the scale when evaluating the ouster of Ralph Friedgen after last season. It didn't help that the athletic department under the former AD slashed the academic support budget in an attempt to cut costs while spending lavishly on the women's basketball coaching staff. New head coach Randy Edsall indicated he thought things would get turned around quickly in the classroom.

College basketball players don't always make the logical or most informed decision when it comes to giving up their eligibility as Barry Jacobs points out in this article.