Maryland just should tell the truth: They fired Ralph Friedgen

December 18, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I’m having a hard time understanding exactly what they’re trying to accomplish at College Park.

If this is Kevin Anderson’s way of doing things, sign me up on the list to offer HIM a buyout.

It’s one thing for a new Athletic Director to come on board and want to do his (or her) own thing, make their own hirings and, in general, shape the school’s sports landscape to their liking.

I completely understand that.

What I don’t understand is how Maryland can do this to Ralph Friedgen.  And I’m not talking about firing him, either.  It’s Anderson’s call if he wants Friedgen to return as the team’s football coach.  Me, honestly?  I’m like the rest of the Baltimore/Washington sports community that only gives a half-a-care about Terps football…if Ralph would have come back for 2011, that would have been fine.  If Ralph’s not the coach next year, that’s fine too.

But stringing him along like this for two days while they figure out the sexy way to tell everyone he’s fired is a joke and it’s a shameful way to send Ralph Friedgen out the exit door at Maryland.

Don’t let the press release fool you when it comes out late Sunday afternoon, just in time to collide with all of that NFL football so that most people might not pay attention enough to know the truth.

Ralph Friedgen was fired at Maryland.

They’ve been wordsmithing their way around it since yesterday, calling it a “buyout” and throwing all kinds of other nice catch-phrases around, but none of that disguises what really happened.  Friedgen had one year left on his deal at Maryland. Kevin Anderson didn’t want him to coach the team next year.  So, Anderson did what he’s allowed to do — he FIRED Friedgen, which, of course, also means he’ll have to pay Friedgen $2 million dollars in happy money.

I can’t help but laugh at the headlines being crafted by The Sun (“Friedgen told he won’t coach the football team next season” and ESPN (“Friedgen forced to take buyout”) and how these supposedly high-quality sports journalists are buying Maryland’s deft way of telling everyone that Ralph won’t be returning for 2011. Are those people that lazy or just not interested in telling everyone the truth? If you go to work on Monday and someone says to you, “we’d rather you not sell cars here for us anymore” what would your first question be? “Are you firing me?”, I assume. These media-folk crack me up. Maryland sends out the word “we’re trying to be sensitive to Ralph…we’re not really firing him…we’re just not going to let him coach the team next year.” And people write it that way, as if somehow allowing the Terps to soft-peddle Friedgen’s departure will make it all go down more nicely.

So I guess I’ll be the one to say it, since I don’t really care one way or the other whether or not the Terps like what I have to say: Maryland fired Ralph Friedgen.

By the way, Ralph did a nice job at Maryland.  I don’t think he did a great job. I think “nice job” pretty much sums it up. And while the program – from a fan and community interest standpoint – is almost a Saturday afternoon-afterthought these days, Friedgen did keep the school’s football team free of any big-time scandal and was able to navigate the waters of the ACC rather successfully over the last decade.  He certainly started off better than he finished, but on the whole, the Ralph Friedgen era was a success at Maryland.

And it’s because of the way Friedgen ran his program that he deserves a better so-long-we’ll-miss-you-card.

Ralph’s a big boy.  He knows coaches are hired to be fired.

I’m sure he’s not thrilled about being fired, but he also understands that the new guy wants to put his stamp on things. Even though two weeks ago Anderson assured Friedgen he’d back for 2011, it’s always his right to make a change with any of his coaches if he feels it’s necessary.

But calling it a buyout and making Ralph AGREE to calling it that is a disgraceful way to chase Ralph out of College Park.

He doesn’t WANT to leave the program.  He’s a football coach, that’s what he wants to do.

And Maryland’s efforts to sugarcoat this or “do it the right way” aren’t going to do anything except cause wise people to wonder why on earth they’d go to such great lengths to hide the truth from everyone.

They don’t want Ralph Friedgen to be the football coach at Maryland anymore.

So they fired him.

There, was that so hard?

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