Oct 19, 2013; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Maryland Terrapins head coach Randy Edsall talks with a player on the bench during the third quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB
Nearly a week has passed since the tough Clemson loss, and I still can’t get over one aspect of the game. Or rather, in this instance, post-game. Head coach Randy Edsall addressed the media after the game, and delivered one of the better speeches I’ve heard from a coach in my time as both an athlete, a reporter, and a fan.
Edsall was asked at the end of the press conference by a media member a simple question along the lines of, “Do you ever ask, why us?” What seemed like a simple question that may typically have ended up being deflected away with a curt response, resulted in a pretty powerful statement about Edsall as a philosophical individual. Rather than expound my thoughts on the matter, I’ll just let you read the speech in it’s entirety below:
"That’s a good question. You know, let me say this: I would never say it publicly. Because, maybe I’m so simple it’s too simple but..I just try to let these guys know that this is life, you know? This is life. You know we don’t have any control over these injuries and what happens. And when you don’t have control over it, how can you sit here and worry about things that you can’t control?But the thing we can control is our attitude, about how we’re going to handle diversity. I think that’s the biggest thing, because whether it’s football, whether it’s life, adversity is going to set in. And when it does, it’s all on how you react to that adversity. And if you don’t react in a positive way, or if you as an individual don’t say, “I gotta do more because of what’s taken place,” then you’re not doing the things necessary to help your team overcome that adversity.And things could always be worse, you know? They could always be worse. You don’t worry about that. You just worry about, OK, here are the cards you were dealt, how are we going to find a way, in our case, to go out and win a football game. And as the head coach, I’ve gotta make sure that I’m sending that message to our assistant coaches, and then to the players. And the assistant coaches have to carry that as well to the players.And that’s how you have to deal with it because, some day, some day we’ll get the breaks that we hopefully maybe, maybe deserve. But, for me, if I approach it any other way, then I’m doing a disservice to the players, to our institution, and really to myself. Because, what we do here is we develop young men. And yes we play a game. But I gotta make sure that when these guys leave here and whatever they go into for the rest of their lives, I hope I’ve set an example of how to deal with adversity and what you have to do to overcome that instead of feeling sorry for yourself.I think that’s just what it’s all about, and you just keep fighting, keep working, and keep doing the things necessary to overcome whatever comes your way."
That’s pretty powerful stuff from the head coach. I don’t know if it’s going to go down into lore as one of the greatest impromptu speeches ever given (see: Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday), but I definitely appreciated it. If you were in the room yourself, you’d know that it came directly from the heart of a guy who is as frustrated and heart-wrenched as every fan out there given all this team has been through. But you can tell this stuff is coming from a guy who is hardly about to throw in the towel, and if what he says about reflecting that attitude to the team is actually working, then their ability to give Clemson a run for their money last Saturday is directly related to the man in charge.
That speaks a lot about the coach as a motivator and a builder of men. We all would love to see the Terps go to a bowl game and win the ACC, but with the injuries sustained on the football field, that isn’t so much a feasible reality anymore. As a consolation, at least you can know that your head football coach is helping mold upstanding citizens, which is definitely an underrated aspect of coaching (and football as a whole). I know people are critical on the guy a lot, but it’s hard not to appreciate what he said on Saturday.
(Update: If you want the audio, I’ve added it here. The question is asked right around the 12 minute mark, and about twenty seconds later he starts talking. Sorry for the audio quality.)