COLUMBUS, Ohio >> Randy Edsall pushed back his chair and left the postgame podium to a smattering of applause. If this was the end, he was going out on his terms.
Days of distractions amid a storm of speculation about his future finally caught up with Maryland’s embattled coach on Saturday following a 49-28 to No. 1 Ohio State.
His team had given its all, showing no signs of quitting on him against the top-ranked Buckeyes. And after bravely answering awkward questions about what could happen next, Edsall was asked why he would shake hands with all his players before what may have been his final game with the Terrapins.
“I do that every single game out of the respect I have for these kids and what they go through,” he said. “Every single game.”
Edsall then stormed off.
There may not be another game at Maryland for Edsall, who received a tepid endorsement in a statement from the school earlier in the week. For three quarters, the Terrapins (2-4l, 0-2 Big Ten) stayed step for step with the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0) before giving up 28 unanswered points.
Outscored 73-6 the previous two weeks, the Terrapins pulled even with the Buckeyes in the third quarter before running out of steam. Afterward, Edsall said he had not been told anything about his status and intended to follow his usual regime.
“I’m going on the bus,” he said. “I’ll watch the film. All I’m going to do is get these kids to be the best they can be. I don’t make those decisions. Somebody else makes those decisions. As long as I’m the coach, all I’m going to do is do my job. Do my job the way I’ve been doing it.”
With a bye next week, Maryland, which was shut out 28-0 at home last week by Michigan, could make a coaching change before hosting Penn State on Oct. 24.
Edsall is 22-34 in his five-plus seasons at Maryland, which joined the Big Ten along with Rutgers last year. If the 57-year-old hoped to convince his bosses to keep him around, the Terrapins made a pretty strong argument on their coach’s behalf before the Buckeyes took control.
The Terrapins got a huge lift from quarterback Perry Hills, who ran for 170 yards and two TDs. Hills, benched after starting the season’s first two games, broke off a 75-yard run and scored from the 3 in the final minute of the first half to pull Maryland within 21-14.
Then, Hills scored on a 4-yard run early in the third to tie it at 21-all. But trying to rally the Terps, Hills threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter and the Buckeyes pulled away to extend their winning streak to 19 games.
Hills said he and his teammates were able to pull together despite the commotion around them.
“Everything going on in the outside really doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s about us being family and playing for each other. Guys saw a great opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it. There’s no bigger stage than this.”
Maryland’s biggest problem was an inability to stop the Buckeyes. Ohio State got inside Maryland’s 20-yard line six times and scored a touchdown on every occasion.
“We played hard for three quarters,” said defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson. “Against top teams you have to finish all the way. You know they’re going to play hard for four quarters.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer juggled his quarterbacks, using Cardale Jones to start drives and J.T. Barrett to finish them. Jones threw a 19-yard TD pass to Braxton Miller in the first half and connected on a 48-yarder to Jalin Marshall in the third, giving Ohio State a 28-21 lead.
There was little that went Maryland’s way from there, and as the Terrapins boarded buses outside Ohio Stadium following the game, players weren’t sure if Edsall would be back.
“I can’t worry about that,” Jefferson said. “I’m here to play defense. Whoever is the coach, I’m going to play my hardest for him.”