If you were looking to cast a guy who looked like the perfect image of a football coach, one couldn't do much better than to hire Randy Edsall. He stands at 6-foot-5 with handsome, chiseled looks and a face that seems to be an advertisement for the fountain of youth.
Well, after four years at the helm of the University of Maryland football program, Edsall did enough to receive a three-year contract extension from Maryland president Dr. Wallace Loh and athletic director Kevin Anderson June 30. Edsall's original six-year contract was due to run out after the 2016 season.
In the college football recruiting game, having a head coach without a contract beyond one year is just not convincing enough to lure top-flight commitments -- whether you are Edsall, Ohio State's Urban Meyer or Alabama's Nick Saban. Each year on the job, Edsall has done a little bit better in recruiting battles, so much so that his 2016 class is being projected to be his best yet.
His team's win-loss records have also improved. Edsall's 20-30 record during his first four seasons is not all that impressive. But if you take away the miserable 2-10 season he had in 2011 and the quarterback injury-crazed campaign the Terps had when they finished 4-8 in 2012, Edsall is a respectable 14-12 the past two seasons.
Had Edsall shown those sorts of improvements on the field and showed no gains in the classrooms, his extension wouldn't have been the slam dunk that it became.
"The one thing coming in here, neither one of us knew that there was academic issues and some other things," Anderson told The Washington Post.
Edsall's strong approach to discipline and structure is why a large number of his predecessors' recruits decided he was a total shock to the system they were used to playing under and decided to move along.
During the last two seasons, Edsall's teams also posted a program-best academic record, this coming after ex-head coach Ralph Friedgen was stripped of three scholarships due to low Academic Progress Rate numbers in 2009 and 2010.
At the outset, I alluded to the extension as a safe bet by Loh and Anderson. That's because if the expected advancements fail to pan out, the university can buy Edsall's contract out for $500,000 if he's dismissed between January 2017 and January 2018.
While Edsall has his share of detractors for his in-game coaching and inability to make adjustments, he seems to have the ability to offset that by motivating his team each and every Saturday it plays.
This year marks my 30th season playing fantasy baseball. While I feel I have a good grasp of the value of players and a fairly strong sense of how to play the game, I am being worn out by the vagaries of playing in a season-long commitment league.
In such leagues -- and this is the way most people have played since Rotisserie baseball first crossed into our consciousness in the early 1980s -- the players you draft before the season starts are your players for the next six months.
That means, once your team is selected, you are a prisoner of more than a couple layers of luck. How many players do you have who go on the disabled list? How many players do you have who have down seasons? How can you control bad trades made by competitors that seem to help out teams you are vying against for some big dollars?
The answers to these and many other equally irritating aspects of season-long committed fantasy leagues are fueling the explosion of daily fantasy leagues.
In daily fantasy leagues, you can actually research how your players perform against the pitchers they will face on a given night. There are no injuries to worry about. If, for example, Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon runs into a wall and leaves the game, it only costs your team for that night -- not six to eight weeks.
If you don't like your team one night, you can do better the next night or at least have the hope you can do better. After all, isn't it more fun to see the glass half full every night, rather than suffering through a multitude of bad choices or bad luck during the long haul of 26 weeks?
Finally, as daily fantasy sports explode all around the map, isn't the timing a coincidence for former Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose? Rose, who has lost a significant amount of money during the past 25-30 years due to his punishment for betting on baseball, has probably just seen any chance he had for a modification of his lifelong ban from MLB being granted or totally lifted disappear.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" obtained documents in June that prove Rose bet on baseball late during his playing career with the Reds. Many writers and critics of Rose still were able to make the point that Rose's ban was based on knowledge he bet on baseball only while managing the Reds. Those people would argue that because Rose would have been voted in for his accomplishments as a player, he belonged in the National Baseball Hall of Fame -- so long as there was no proof he bet on baseball while he played.
While it's important to note the difference between Rose betting on his Reds teams and the Chicago White Sox players who purposely threw games in the infamous Black Sox scandal fix that affected the outcome of the 1919 World Series, it does not fully let Rose off the hook.
The great coincidence is that if Rose were coming up today, would we feel equally appalled at his betting on daily performance of players versus the outcomes of games? That is one to toss around and ruminate over.