Friedgen’s Comments Were Hurtful, But Let’s Agree to Do Deeper Thinking Here

October 01, 2011 | Glenn Clark

Two-Some Maryland supporters have unfairly re-written Coach Friedgen’s tenure since the arrival of Randy Edsall.

Some of the Terps supporters who have commented on this interview have suddenly decided that Ralph Friedgen was a worthless Head Coach in College Park.

Friedgen was not Bear Bryant-although they both were once coaches at Maryland. That being said, Ralph Friedgen was a good, at times very good head coach at the University of Maryland. I’m reminded of what I wrote about him following Maryland’s win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl, Friedgen’s final game as coach.

“The reality is that Friedgen has had nearly 1,000 sons over his tenure and he has been a remarkable example to each and every one of what type of person they should try to be.

Friedgen’s teams were never under NCAA investigation due to scandal. There was the 2003 incident when assistant coach Rod Sharpless gave prospect Victor Abiamiri an XBox, and there was the high profile Halloween 2005 fight at the Cornerstone Bar & Grill involving members of the team.

Other than those isolated incidents, it was a drama free decade.

More than that, Friedgen was particularly honest as a head coach, almost to a fault. Honesty is rare in football coaching circles these days, as coaches tend to view honesty as an opportunity for opponents to gain an advantage.

That wasn’t the case for Friedgen.

He always represented the University well, even if he wasn’t a particularly good-looking man. He never hid from his love for the school. He always spoke highly of the student athletes he coached. The kids he played for clearly cared a great deal about him.”

Ralph Friedgen was a fine head coach at a place where success has been difficult if not impossible. Some of you have said TERRIBLE things about Coach Friedgen that are completely without merit about “The Fridge” since Thursday.

I have no interest in further debating the merits of Friedgen’s dismissal. The University felt as though the football program could improve with different leadership. Whether or not that is correct will be determined in the next few years under Randy Edsall.

That aside, Friedgen proved his value to the University on and off the field for a decade. He has nothing left to prove to anyone.

Three: I can only hope this relationship can be saved one day.

I would imagine it would always be difficult for Ralph Friedgen to return to Byrd Stadium while Kevin Anderson is Athletic Director in College Park. Friedgen’s pride probably wouldn’t allow him to accept any appreciation from an Anderson-lead Athletic Department, as he would be smart enough to see any real motives.

An event honoring Friedgen’s tenure in College Park could be a nice fundraising opportunity for the University or at least a chance to sell some tickets to a lesser Atlantic Coast Conference game. After being told he wasn’t good enough to do those things for the University in a coaching capacity, it would be difficult to imagine Friedgen supporting this in “retirement.”

Of course, that’s purely speculative.

The fact is that Friedgen deserves to be recognized in College Park for what he did for the Terps over ten years. He deserves to receive acclaim from supporters even if he was never a National Championship-caliber coach. John Cooper was fired by Ohio State but has still managed to remain popular in Buckeyes circles. Friedgen deserves the opportunity to do the same.

That opportunity clearly won’t come after this interview. That’s the most difficult thing for me to stomach after seeing the viral nature of the conversation.

If Ralph Friedgen and I hadn’t scheduled a chat Thursday to discuss Baltimore Ravens rookies Torrey Smith and LaQuan Williams, he would likely still be in a place where he could return to College Park and be appreciated by fellow alums and fans of the program.

That’s tough for me to stomach. I want to see Coach Friedgen celebrated in College Park. I want to see him be a part of the Maryland football family for the rest of his life. I don’t want to see him ostracized based on comments he made about watching football games.

I hope this can work out somehow. It will take an agreement from all parties (Friedgen, Anderson and mostly the Maryland supporters) to move on from hurtful things that have happened. Friedgen has to be willing to forgive the University. Anderson has to be willing to forgive Friedgen. Fans have to be willing to accept the fact that there isn’t a “good guy” or a “bad guy” in all of this.

A divorce is simply terrible for all parties involved. This one shows no signs of letting up in ugliness.

I just hope we’re all capable of thinking bigger instead of passing off comments like “Friedgen is an a-hole”, “Anderson is a jackass” or “this is why I’ve just never been a Maryland football fan.”

Maybe there’s no real reason for me to be so hopeful.

-G

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