Yes, the message boards and the Internets where Maryland fandom congregrates are atwitter with celebration upon learning Chris Cosh will be leaving for the midwest to become Kansas State’s defensive coordinator next season.
And while no one ever claimed Cosh was a tactician the likes of which have not been seen since Douglas MacArthur, he also wasn’t worthy of the dunce cap treatment in an avatar, either.
Maryland fans didn’t like him because of past perceived indiscretions (whatever they might or might not have been). Didn’t like him because his schemes didn’t produce a ton of huge plays (one defensive touchdown in three seasons). Didn’t like him for a penchant for yielding huge gains at unforgivable times (which didn’t occur as much this year).
Mostly, they didn’t like him because Steve Slaton embarrassed Maryland on a Thursday night in 2006, and later in the season when a division title was on the line, Wake Forest abused the Maryland defense with misdirection time after time after time.
Clearly, Cosh was not a paragon in his profession, not a man with a perfect answer for every situation. There are better coaches out there. But there’s also ones who are worse, guys who would not fare as well with the talent Cosh received to work with this season.
Maryland – and its cranky fans – could learn that the hard way.
While the Terps’ defense in 2006 was more lucky than good, you can make a case Cosh did a much better job than anyone could have possibly guessed he would do this past season.
Maryland yielded 30 points just twice in 12 games, and that was with a limited defensive line and constant injuries in the secondary. The linebackers were decent, at times above average. But it wasn’t an ideal situation at all.
Yet there was Maryland’s defense, checking in respectably despite its personnel deficiencies. Yes, the Terps were facing ACC offenses. But Maryland didn’t embarrass itself, and Cosh deserves some credit for that.
Here, by the way, are Maryland’s defensive stats in four major categories in three seasons under Cosh:
|Rush defense rank ||96th||53rd||74th|
|Pass defense rank||55th||33rd||56th|
|Total defense||360.6 ||358.0 ||355.0 |
|Total defense rank||84th||40th||60th|
|Scoring defense rank ||51st||24th||35th|
Very comparable results across the board. The run defense improved slightly; the pass defense weakened slightly to cancel it out. Scoring dropped slightly, but not much.
No one’s confusing those numbers with unadulterated excellence. But for the last two years, almost all of those stats rank in the top half of the country.
That’s not bad, especially given the talent available. And you’d think telling an offense it had to score 24 points on average to win wouldn’t be too huge a request. (Utah State and Arizona State are averaging precisely that number and are tied for 76th nationally in scoring offense).
Were there moments this season where the defense looked dreadful? Absolutely. The first half of the Clemson game and any instance Darren Evans touched the ball for Virginia Tech spring to mind.
But if Cosh was to receive blame for those times, he surely merits credit for making the Terps presentable when a lot of other people would have thrown their arms in the air in disbelief. He also earns plaudits for maintaining a friendly demeanor every day when it was clear a lot of the patrons coming to Byrd Stadium each week did not particularly like his work.
Ralph Friedgen might find someone better than Cosh.
But he might not.
That’s something Maryland fans might want to think about as they celebrate the departure of a defensive coordinator who did about as well as could be reasonably expected this year, even if no one really bothered to notice.