Fear the Turtle?
Bringing Maryland into the Big Ten didn't exactly send shivers of fear throughout the conference as might happen if Alabama had come aboard. The Terrapins role in the ACC in recent years has seemingly been to help those teams that might otherwise win only five games become bowl eligible. However, what may surprise you is that Maryland's most recent recruiting class appears to be fourth-best in the Big Ten (behind only Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska according to Rivals.com). Not bad for a 4-8 team. Does this mean we should expect more from Maryland in the years to come?
Terp head coach Randy Edsall did not win over a lot of people when he took over for a popular (though somewhat underwhelming) coach/alum in Ralph Friedgen. "The Fridge's" final campaign saw the team go 9-4 with a win in the Military bowl and a #23 final ranking in the AP poll. Edsall's first team went 2-10 before improving slightly to 4-8 last year.
That's not all that impressive, but upon closer inspection it doesn't spell doom either. When Edsall took over at Connecticut in 1999 the team was coming off a 10-3 season where they had won their conference. His first team went just 4-7 and then the team had two more losing seasons as it moved up to Division I-A. By year four, his team was .500 and by year five his team had become 9-3. There was again some regression as his team joined the Big East but by his fourth season he'd won a share of the conference championship and duplicated the feat three years later to take his team to the Fiesta Bowl. So doing things like tearing down and rebuilding a program and joining a new conference are all old hat for Edsall.
Meanwhile, Edsall's team sits in a very fertile recruiting ground. If Virginia Tech's gravitation to mediocrity is more than just a one year phenomenon (like it is at Virginia), the Terps could be in position to harvest a lot of outstanding talent in their backyard. Likewise, if Penn State succumbs to the undertow of the recent sanctions, that may further improve Maryland recruiting in their own region.
It still seems a few years off for the Terrapins to build something truly strong, but the wind may now be at their backs to do just that. "Fearsome" will have to wait, but "respectable" could be right around the corner.