The Washington Times - February 22, 2012, 10:29AM

Maryland announced Wednesday it has granted a “full release” to quarterback Danny O’Brien, offensive tackle Max Garcia and defensive back Mario Rowson. The three already planned to transfer, but will now have greater freedom in choosing a school.

“While at first I thought it was important to limit the institutions to which they could transfer, I have since reconsidered my decision” coach Randy Edsall said in a statement released by the school. “At the end of the day, I want what’s best for these guys and I wish them well in their futures.As a program we are looking forward to putting this distraction behind us and to moving forward.”

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Ignoring for a moment the “distraction” was entirely self-created, it is the right thing to do – and not just because it does a solid for players stuck in an overarching NCAA system that so heavily favors schools.

Twelve players with eligibility remaining have left Maryland’s program since the end of the 2011 season, during which Maryland went 2-10. Since Edsall was hired in January 2011, 24 players with eligibility left have departed College Park. Virtually nothing visible has gone well for the program over the last 14 months.

There will be inevitable comparisons made if O’Brien especially thrives someplace next season (he’ll be eligible to play immediately because he will earn his undergraduate degree this spring). But Maryland’s situation is such that it can’t worry about anything other than fixing its own ample and multifaceted mess.

It can’t afford to do so for financial reasons. The athletic department’s empty coffers are well-chronicled.

It can’t afford to for public relations reasons. Making Edsall more palatable to a fanbase not enamored with his early returns has not proven easy.

And it can’t afford to for competitive reasons. Fretting about O’Brien’s success elsewhere doesn’t make the Terps any better and only wastes time better spent on other things.

Edsall – and Maryland, by extension – simply doesn’t have the luxury of trying to control the fates of his former players after they transfer. There’s just too much work to do at home to worry about where O’Brien plies his trade next fall. Whether it’s in Nashville or Madison or [insert-power-conference-college-town-here], it won’t be in College Park. The latter part is the only thing that can matter to Maryland at the moment.

Patrick Stevens