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Randy Edsall’s impending firing shows donors still rule the college football roost

As first reported by Inside Maryland Sports, the 247Sports affiliate, the University of Maryland is expected to let football head coach Randy Edsall go following the game this weekend against Ohio State.

The news of his firing shouldn’t be too shocking, as Edsall has seen this season start out about as disastrously as possible. Maryland is just 2-3 on the season and struggling to show any signs of improvement or life on either side of the football. Edsall sports just a 22-33 record in his tenure at the helm of the Terps as well.

While those are all justifiable reasons to let a head coach go, the biggest reason to get it done in the middle of the season and not after is because of money. Yes, the old C.R.E.A.M. adage reigns supreme in this case.

However, this is a bit different from many cash-induced moves by other athletic departments. That’s because Maryland is in the middle of trying to sell football donors and other members of the general public on a $155 million football facility.

According to the IMS (Inside Maryland Sports) report, donors dollars have dried up and many are refusing to allow themselves to commit to the needed project as long as Edsall is still at the helm.

“No donor I know is happy,” one source told IMS after Maryland gave up 42 second-half points in a 48-27 loss to Bowling Green on Sept. 12. “None of them were happy with the game, Edsall, or the direction of the program. Haskins may well save his job for this year, but no donor I know is happy.”

Clearly even the impending arrival of the state’s most heralded quarterback ever, Dwayne Haskins, didn’t buy Edsall another year. At least whomever is going to take over the head coaching duties on a permanent basis won’t have to worry about re-recruiting Haskins.

But, back to the money situation, as that is the real driver of anything going on with this move.

It appears the Terps athletic department are willing to not only eat the $500,000 buyout in the contract extension signed just last year, but the remaining salary owed for this season and as reported by IMS, the $2.1 million owed for next season.

That speaks volumes, especially coming from an athletic department that was, and still is, in major financial trouble. Clearly the athletic department sees the need to get donor dollars behind the program as more important than a single coach’s salary.

It’s a calculated risk financially, but perhaps the smartest move possible in the long-term outlook for the program and the athletic department as a whole. A healthy football program is the lifeblood of any Power 5 team, even if it is a “basketball” school.

Basketball simply can’t generate the money the way the football side of things can.

Winning football means butts in the seats, donors willing to fork over gobs of money to get the prime tailgate spots and those with big time money willing to fun big time projects.

While wins and losses matter to the overall picture, losing the fans, donors and players all adds up to an equation where Randy Edsall’s tenure became untenable.

Lesson for today: If you want something to happen, put your money where your mouth is.

It certainly appears by sitting on the sidelines long enough, the donors to the Maryland athletic department certainly were heard by their lack of dollars coming in.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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