Tag Archive | "Ralph Friedgen"

Merry Christmas Fridge – You’re Fired

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Merry Christmas Fridge – You’re Fired

Posted on 04 January 2011 by Tom Federline

I am still reeling about this one. What in the world is going on down in Terpland? There’s a new University President, there is a new Athletic Director, the new AD publicly states Ralph Friedgen (Fridge) will be back for his final year as head coach, Fridge is awarded ACC Coach of the Year, new AD and head coach go out for a holiday dinner, Fridge is fired shortly thereafter. Mike Leach (controversial former head coach at Texas Tech), is talk of town. Happy(?) New Year 2011- new AD announces……..Randy Edsall, “recently” resigned head football coach of the Univ. of Connecticut to take the helm at UMCP. And when I say “recently”, we are talking less than 48 hours from a loss to the Oklahoma Sooners on New Years Day. The guy does have a nice track record, but did they really interview that guy?

What the heck happened at that dinner? Did Ralph not offer to pick up the tab? Fridge will be receiving 2 mill next year from his buy-out, which is about 4x what Kevin Anderson, new UMCP AD from West Point, receives as an annual salary. Did Fridge over-play his hand, by asking for a contract extension? Maybe. Did the new AD at Terpland expose himself and the University by speaking prior to thinking in November. Absolutely. Did the University disgrace itself in the eyes of alums and the sporting media? Absolutely. Did they handle the “firing” poorly? Absolutely. Did the University disrespect one of the top 5 prominent representatives from the University over the past 10 years? Absolutely. Maybe it was time for the Terp football coach to go. But man, the new “Sheriffs in town” blew this one.

I am a fan of Ralph Friedgen. I had the pleasure meeting and conversing with the man, discussing the renovations at Byrd. My kind of “old school” man. What you see is what you get. He was passionate about the football team, program and the UMCP. His overall record was 75 – 50, during his 10 year stay. 5 -2 in Bowl games. Reminder – Bowl games = cash. Where was Maryland football prior to Ralph (1990)? Were his hands tied due to supposed higher academic standards at U of M? Did he recruit “by the book”? Did he lose his recruiting edge with the loss of the supposed “coach in waiting”, James Franklin? I never quite understood that whole deal either. The University designates a successor with years remaining on the current coaches contract? It appears the man that put University of Maryland football back on the map, never had a chance.

Fridge – (not verbatim) – “I believe this team has the chance to be great. That is what I was hoping for. The powers at be do not feel I am good enough to do that.” Ouch…..give me my 2 million dollars and good luck…..you go Ralph Friedgen!

Ralph is a big man and had big expectations. Were some of those goals met? You betcha. How about an ACC Championship in football? How about getting back to Bowl games? How about at least 1/2 of a respectable renovated stadium? Yes, the Tyser Tower side, a new facility equipped with suites and a Club Level atmosphere. I still do not like that monstrosity on the north side. Ralph did bring respect back to the program.

A buddy of mine asked – Name the Terp football coaches since around 1978 (without going thru the Internet). I gave it a shot – Jerry Claiborne, Bobby Ross, Joe Krivak……….lost it……… and Ralph Friedgen. Can you all name the “fill-ins”? In the time of win, win, win, money, money, money, new, new, new…..Ralph’s time was over. And that’s a shame. “With change you may find purpose.” I hope that’s the case for all involved.

So what were some of the first words out of the chairman of the search committee’s mouth upon the new hire of Randy Edsall – (not verbatim) – “Edsall is going to recruit young men that are good citizens, good students and good athletes.” Sounds to me, like Mr. UConn is behind the eight-ball already. If there had to be a change at all, I was leaning toward the Mike Leach, character. Mr. Fridge, on behalf of all Terp alumni who follow Terp sports - “Thanks for the Memories” – (Bob Hope). You deserved a better send off. Oh and thanks for digging that dagger in a little deeper with that convincing win at the Military Bowl, so close to home.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Maryland plays it safe in hiring Edsall

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Maryland plays it safe in hiring Edsall

Posted on 03 January 2011 by Luke Jones

A volatile three weeks at the University of Maryland culminated with an underwhelming decision Sunday afternoon.

Despite rampant rumors of Mike Leach bringing his “Air Raid” offense to College Park — along with the baggage attached to the talented, but controversial coach — Maryland ultimately played it safe with the hiring of Randy Edsall less than 24 hours after his Connecticut team fell to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

Full disclosure is needed before I continue.

The 52-year-old and I both attended Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock, Pa. (a brief 40-minute drive from Baltimore up I-83 for those wondering). It’s not often that the new head coach of a college football program that you cover just happens to be a fellow “Warrior,” so I took a personal interest when Edsall’s name was gaining steam last week.

That said, I’ve never met the man and am only privy to second-hand information from mutual acquaintances still residing in the area. Edsall is a highly-respected, hard-working coach who even returned to his alma mater to speak at graduation just a few years ago.

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Maryland football supporters are undoubtedly scratching their heads that a man coming from such an ordinary program has been selected to transform the Terps from “good to great,” as athletic director Kevin Anderson professed two weeks ago.

With the backlash of the dismissal of Ralph Friedgen still being felt by the university, Edsall’s hiring is not the dynamic move most anticipated to invigorate a declining — and now, angry — fan base.

But it may prove to be the right one.

Given the circumstances surrounding the coaching change, fans are justified in feeling let down after most pointed to Leach to take the program to the next level. And make no mistake, the university didn’t fire Friedgen — a Maryland alum who gave everything he had to the program — with a pedestrian-looking replacement like Edsall in mind, at least initially.

But when it came time to step to the plate with the self-imposed deadline of January 4th approaching quickly, Anderson and other university leaders made the careful choice.

Perhaps Maryland feared Leach would simply use the school as a stepping stone to an elite job, bolting in a year or two for the SEC or a return to the Big XII.

Or maybe the stigma of his treatment of receiver Adam James at Texas Tech — murky details aside — and the messy divorce in Lubbock that followed proved too big a risk.

The Utopian link between Leach and Under Armour’s Kevin Plank that some dreamed would cultivate Maryland into a powerhouse like Nike-created Oregon sounded so great on paper, but apparently wasn’t meant to be.

Instead, Maryland grabbed Edsall, a man who quietly built something of his own over the last 12 years at Connecticut. If circumstances had been different and Edsall had been hired after last season’s 2-10 disaster or following a more harmonious departure by Friedgen, it’s a move that likely would have been better-received.

Edsall’s arrival in College Park by itself won’t spike season-ticket sales or fill the empty suites in Tyser Tower, but the one thing that will is winning. With a strong cast returning in 2011, the program will likely get a slight boost in sales despite adjusting to a new coaching staff. Maintaining that momentum and taking it to greater heights will be the challenge in the years to come.

Coaching hires should be made with the next 10 years in mind, not the next 10 months, so it’s hard to ignore the resume built by Edsall at Connecticut.

Arriving in Storrs 12 years ago with the Huskies still a Div. I-AA team playing in the Atlantic 10, Edsall left on the heels of a Big East championship and Fiesta Bowl appearance at a school where most people are talking college basketball year-round. Despite the weak nature of the Big East, that transformation doesn’t just happen with a few decent recruits and a solid playbook.

That feverish work ethic and perseverance is what makes him appealing enough to think it might just work at Maryland. Taking the football program to the next level will take plenty of work, and his career suggests he might stick around long enough for it to happen. Despite hearing his name as a candidate for several higher-profile jobs over the years — including Notre Dame a year ago — Edsall remained at UConn, transforming the Huskies from an independent doormat (a 5-19 record in their first two years at the Div. I-A level) to a viable contender in a BCS conference (33-19 in the last four years).

Edsall will need to continue to improve and evolve as he now steps outside his comfort level. He’ll face the same challenges that plagued Friedgen in College Park, such as difficulty in attracting top talent and a fickle fan base. As he did at Connecticut, he’ll be coaching at a basketball-first school and faces an uphill battle in appeasing the large portion of fans unhappy with the ugly dumping of Friedgen.

His results at Connecticut (74-70 with five bowl appearances) are impressive in relative terms, but not exactly eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination. Expectations will be much higher at Maryland considering the circumstances of his arrival.

To succeed in taking Maryland to the next level, he will need to put in the same tireless hours he spent at UConn, building credibility in the Baltimore-Washington area and attracting top talent to College Park.

Edsall is the safe play, but only time will tell whether it was the right one.

Flashy hires may steal the headlines and produce giddy feelings — Charlie Weis at Notre Dame comes to mind — but can fail quite easily. And even the dullest appointments — like Ohio State hiring Youngstown State’s Jim Tressel — can produce sensational results.

Of course, Maryland lacks the prestige or enormous budgets of the aforementioned programs, but the principles of hiring remain the same.

Not many fans were thrilled when the Ravens hired a man known only as Jim Harbaugh’s brother three years ago. However, as John Harbaugh and the Ravens embark on their third consecutive trip to the playoffs, it’s safe to say they made the right choice, even after being spurned by hotshot coordinator Jason Garrett.

Looking into the crystal ball is always a precarious task, but Edsall ultimately provided the cleanest picture in the eyes of Maryland.

Now we’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.

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Terps who used Ralph Friedgen’s guidance toward NFL career weigh in on former coach

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Terps who used Ralph Friedgen’s guidance toward NFL career weigh in on former coach

Posted on 31 December 2010 by Ryan Chell

Ralph Friedgen

Ralph Friedgen spent 10 years as coach of the Maryland Terrapins and saw numerous student-athletes, football players, and young men pass through his program and move on to become better, more driven individuals-and some who went on to make a career of playing football in the NFL.

He touched countless lives in College Park, returning to his alma mater in 2001 and starting his coaching career rebuilding a struggling program with an outright ACC Title, a 10-2 record, and an Orange Bowl appearance.

He earned ACC Coach of the Year his first year at Maryland.

His last season came this year in 2010 and despite an 8-4 record and his second ACC Coach of the Year award, Friedgen was shown the door by the new athletic department staff headed by AD Kevin Anderson, with his last game Wednesday in the Terps 51-20 victory over ECU in the Military Bowl.

Friedgen left Maryland on top in the fashion many of Terps nation wanted to see him leave, and several of his former players who used his teachings to move on to the NFL joined WNST Thursday and Friday as a send-off to Coach Friedgen and to wish him the best.

Nolan Carroll

“I am glad for the win,” Dolphins CB and KR Nolan Carroll said, who spent 2005-2009 in College Park. “What I heard was that ECU had a very good offense. You know, they had a very good team. For them to come out the way they did, and put up so many points, was phenomenal. It’s the best way for him to leave on such a good note.”

Moise Fokou

Another former Terp, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou-who joined Rex Thursday on “The Afternoon Drive”-said that the win against the Pirates definitely caps off a great resume by Coach Friedgen at Maryland.

“I feel like before he got there, they definitely had talent but I felt with Friedgen coming in there and turning that program around…he showcased the talent that he had at that school and he did a great job recruiting and showing us off.”

“We’re just glad to be Terps and represent him in that fashion.”

Fokou was definitely confused as to why the new administration would relieve not only a former alumni who went 75-50 during his time in College Park, but a guy that brought stability to a program that had only one winning season and no bowl appearances in the ten years before he took the sidelines.

“Honestly, I don’t know really know what’s going on with their program. Why they are forcing him out…I just hope that they know what they’re doing because I’m telling you right now that they’re losing a great head coach,” Fokou said.

Several other players echoed Fokou’s thoughts, including former Terp running back Lance Ball, who currently is a Denver Bronco after spending 2003-2007 in a Terps uniform.

Lance Ball

Ball was coached by the “Fridge”  before  finding his way into the NFL bouncing around with the St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts squads.

Ball believes it was Friedgen’s vast knowledge of the offensive side of the ball that garnered him attention at the NFL level-as well as guys like former first-round picks in Darius Heyward-Bey and tight end Vernon Davis.

“I think Coach Friedgen coming from a pro-style offense…he was able to give us insight on what teams look for and if we’re ready or not to leave.”

Fokou was also certain that while Friedgen may have been rudely shown the door, his former coach will not be a guy to hold a grudge and will not hold it against his former players and friends at the university.

“I’m so happy he went out with a bang,” Fokou said. “but I guarantee he will be back especially with the alumni coming out of the school.”

“I was one of the guys who he scouted and he gave me a full scholarship the following year. He’s done a tremendous job up there as soon as he stepped foot on campus. He turned that program around and it’s hard to see a guy like that go, but he will be missed.”

Friedgen said after the Military Bowl victory at RFK Stadium Wednesday that he will always have “three daughters and 120 sons.”

And his family is definitely bigger than those 123 people he touched this year having been coaching the Terps  for a decade.

“Ralph is a good guy,” Ball told Thyrl Nelson. “I know when we were I was there, we won a lot of games. We were quite successful; it’s just unfortunate that they went in another direction and he’s not the coach no more.”

“I haven’t contacted him yet cause there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on now, but within the next couple days I’ll give him a shout and see how’s he doing.”

All the former Terps WNST talked to said that their biggest and most fond memories of Friedgen is when he spent one-on-one time with them recruiting them, and those moments and time spent together made all the difference in the world.

“For me, it’s when he came to my house when he recruited me,” Carroll told Snider. “He looked my parents dead in the eye and he told them, ‘Hey look, your son’s education is going to come first’. That’s the first thing he preached about. He really didn’t go into athletics that much. He was strictly academics, and that’s what my folks liked a lot about him.”

“And he held true to his word. I got my education last fall and I ended up graduating in the Spring. And everything he said that he was gonna do for me, he ended up doing.”

Friedgen’s final press conference-which lasted twenty minutes Wednesday night-had the overall mood of a funeral at times as opposed to a glorious send-off.

But make no mistake. Just like former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer told Friedgen recently, there is life after football and Ball in particular sees leaving the sport and the opportunity to mentor kids as too big an opportunity to pass up on.

“He may take a little break,” Ball said. “But I don’t see it. Ralph has grown up around football and been around football. So I’m sure at one point he will get back to it.”

Fokou agreed.

“I definitely think he has a couple more years of coaching left,” Fokou said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he went back in the NFL. He kind of has that coaching mentality…kind of get it done at any cost.”

‘But I do see him coaching again in the future whether it’s in the NFL or in the colleges leagues.”

Ball is sad to see his coach go the wayside, but he does hope the program finds a guy that can pick up right where Friedgen left off.

“I just hope the guy that comes in is very serious about Maryland and the tradition that it brings. I think being a head coach at Maryland, you have to take on a lot of responsibility cause it’s such a great school and it holds so much tradition.”

Ralph Friedgen

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Terps and Ralph Friedgen even though he leaves College Park behind!

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And Then It Struck Me: “120 Sons” will miss Friedgen at Maryland

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And Then It Struck Me: “120 Sons” will miss Friedgen at Maryland

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — After the Maryland Terrapins had just polished off a 51-20 drubbing of East Carolina in the Military Bowl Wednesday, I found myself sitting in the bowels of RFK Stadium waiting for the final press conference of Head Coach Ralph Friedgen’s tenure at his alma mater.

Having been formally dismissed only nine days earlier by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, we all expected a certain level of emotion from the man affectionately known as “The Fridge.” In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all had Friedgen broken down during his post-game chat.

As a Maryland alum (much like Friedgen), I have found myself surprisingly non-moved by the news that Friedgen was let go (or had the final year of his contract “bought out” if you will) following an impressive 8-4 campaign. I found myself expressing feelings like “It’s really a shame” but following them up with expressions like “but I understand the University’s need to sell tickets at Byrd Stadium and make money.”

As I was waiting for Friedgen’s post-game press conference to begin, I was handed a sheet of paper that lead me to the first real emotion I had felt since the news broke.

“I have three daughters and 120 sons” Friedgen had told bowl officials immediately after the win over the Pirates. “I am going to miss these kids.”

Yep. That did it.

In that moment, I was reminded of exactly what Ralph Friedgen meant to the University of Maryland and Terps fans worldwide over the last ten seasons.

I couldn’t quite put it into words until I arrived for the Maryland-North Florida basketball game at Comcast Center that night, but there was no doubting the impact that statement had on me.

There’s no questioning Ralph Friedgen’s success on the field as the football coach in College Park. Friedgen won 60% of the games he coached, posting a 75-50 overall record. The Terps reached bowl games in seven of Friedgen’s ten seasons, winning five of those games. His accolades include the 2001 ACC Championship (and a berth in the Orange Bowl), being named ACC Coach of the Year in ’01 and 2010 and being a nearly unanimous National Coach of the Year selection in ’01 as well.

Friedgen collected victories in the Peach Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and Humanitarian Bowl before finishing his tenure with Wednesday’s Military Bowl title. 24 players coached by Friedgen at Maryland were selected in the NFL Draft; with WR Torrey Smith and LB Alex Wujciak expected to be amongst those that join them this year.

With all of that being said, the reality is that Maryland MIGHT be able to improve on-field under a new head coach. Maybe a Randy Edsall, Mike Leach, Rich Rodriguez, KC Keeler or Gus Malzahn could have the Terrapins competing for BCS berths more than once every ten years.

Maybe.

But it won’t take away from Friedgen did on the field (especially considering the program hadn’t reached postseason play since 1990 before Friedgen took over-and hadn’t won an ACC title since 1985) and it certainly won’t take away from what Friedgen represented as head coach in College Park.

The statement Friedgen made after his final game as head coach was “I have three daughters and 120 sons.”

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.

The number of other schools in the ACC that can say they had a similar run with one coach over the last ten seasons can be counted on…one finger (Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer).

Ralph Friedgen made Maryland fans proud for ten season.

Ralph Friedgen left Maryland football much better than he found it ten seasons after returning to his alma mater.

When youngsters attend football games at Byrd Stadium and ask their parents about the name “Friedgen” that is displayed along the upper deck; they will hear the response “he was a hell of a coach here.”

The University of Maryland better get this search right.

The man they had was not only a great coach, but a great father for ten seasons.

That won’t be easy to duplicate.

fridge

-G

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Maryland receiver T. Smith declares for NFL Draft

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Luke Jones

WASHINGTON — With all eyes focused on the departing Ralph Friedgen in the Terps’ 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl, Torrey Smith was also playing his final game.

The receiver announced after Wednesday’s game that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2011 NFL Draft, ending weeks of speculation. The speedy junior graduated earlier this month and has received positive reports regarding his draft status, but would not elaborate on any draft report specifics when he announced his decision.

“It makes [the decision to go pro] a whole lot easier when you have the people you respect the most supporting your decision,” Smith said. “It was definitely a tough decision, but it was one coach Friedgen was comfortable with, [wide receivers coach Lee Hull], [director of character education] Kevin Glover. It just made me feel better about it.”

In his final game, Smith was held to just two catches for 10 yards.

He led the Terps with 67 receptions, 1,055 receiving yards, and 12 touchdown catches this season. Smith also set a school-record four touchdown receptions against North Carolina State last month in what turned out to be his final game in College Park.

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Friedgen leaves on high note as Terps demolish ECU

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Friedgen leaves on high note as Terps demolish ECU

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Luke Jones

WASHINGTON — With the backdrop of Maryland’s dominating 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl serving as a final act, it was obvious who the day was really about.

For just a few hours on Wednesday afternoon in front of 38,062 at RFK Stadium, Ralph Friedgen was able to put aside the sleepless nights and disappointment and do what he loves one more time: coach his Maryland Terrapins to victory.

There were no mentions of Mike Leach and his potential arrival in College Park.

The day wasn’t about athletic director Kevin Anderson who so clearly exercised his clout over the last two weeks.

Declining season-ticket sales and unsold luxury suites were afterthoughts as the Terps rushed for 297 yards against a porous Pirates defense.

And even his assistant coaches were able to go out and do their jobs despite not knowing where their future lies — in College Park or anywhere else for that matter.

For the last time as head coach of the Terrapins, Friedgen coached his team to victory in convincing fashion, finishing a 9-4 season and a seven-win improvement from the disastrous 2-10 record of a year ago. The Powerade coolers received plenty of use as Friedgen and several assistants — defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo and defensive coordinator Don Brown among them — were doused by jubilant players wanting to send off the coaching staff as winners.

However, reality set in as the final seconds ticked away, and there was only one thing left to say to the man who leaves the Maryland football program in better shape than he found it 10 years ago:

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Surprisingly, the emotional head coach was composed through most of his post-game press conference despite all but two questions focusing on his departure as the game took a backseat to the real story of the day.

“It really kind of got to the point where I just wanted to get this game over with and try to get on with the rest of my life,” said Friedgen, who was overwhelmed by the amount of support he received over the last two weeks.

“I had some really special memories here. The biggest thing is I’m not going to be able to be around these kids. I really cherish being around them. Being there when we were 2-10 [in 2009] and now we’re 9-4 and hopefully we’re in the top 25. When you go through something like that, with pretty much the same individuals, you get pretty close. I really think they have a chance to be special. That’s what I’m going to miss.”

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Putting aside the disappointment of being invited to the ACC’s eighth-place bowl and traveling only a few miles to Washington, D.C., the Terps made the most of their opportunity against an inferior opponent, containing one of the most prolific offenses in the nation while also accumulating 478 total yards of offense.

As convincing as the performance was and the optimism that exists for next season with so many key offensive players returning, even the seniors realized this game was about their head coach and sending him out on a high note.

“We just wanted to make a statement,” said senior running back Da’Rel Scott, who rushed for 200 yards on 13 carries and was named the game’s MVP. “It was good to play at home — we could have gotten a better bowl — but it is what it is. We just tried to go out with a bang and make sure coach Friedgen went out as a winner. I think that was the team’s main focus.”

Despite the win, the hurt feelings remain apparent in such a tenuous situation. Rarely do coaches have the opportunity to knowingly coach their final game at a school — other than retirement situations. The reality is even tougher to swallow when that coach is finishing a 9-4 turnaround season.

That pain will linger for a long time, as Friedgen said he gave his best for 10 seasons only to find out he wasn’t wanted anymore.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Friedgen said. “Obviously, the powers that be didn’t feel like I was good enough to go to the next level. Only time will tell whether that was accurate or not.”

Time is running short as Maryland has set January 4 as the deadline to have its new coach in place. The fate of the assistant coaches — including Brown who masterfully frustrated the East Carolina offense all afternoon — remains in limbo.

Whether the new man is Leach or one of the other names thrown around by various media outlets, the bar will be high as Anderson’s “good-to-great” proclamation will bring pressure and obstacles that Friedgen never faced when he arrived on campus 10 years ago.

“I can tell you this, it’s not an easy job,” Friedgen said. “There’s a lot of things that really have to change to help [the football program] reach its potential. To be honest with you, I don’t know if the university is willing to do that. You kind of have to know that going in, and I did. I think that was a benefit to me.”

After coaching at his alma mater, Friedgen must now face the uncertainty that goes with being an unemployed 63-year-old football coach, a reality that even he has labeled as surreal.

“Everybody thinks that I can’t live without football,” said Frieden, who received a call from former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer assuring him there is, indeed, life after football. “I don’t know. This is what I’ve done for 43 years, going to be 44. It’s probably what I do. We’ll have to see.”

It had to be sobering coaching his final game in the unspectacular Military Bowl — with memories of the 2001 season, an ACC championship, and a trip to the Orange Bowl in the back of his mind — but closing his career with a win for the players he’s repeatedly called his favorite group to coach should count for something.

“If you have to go out, this is the best way to do it. I am happy to watch this team and I wish them the very best. I am with them in spirit every step of the way.”

NOTES: D.J. Adams ran for four touchdowns, a career high as well as a season high for Maryland. … Scott’s 91-yard touchdown run was the longest by a Maryland running back since an 80-yard scamper by Bruce Perry in 2003. … Scott’s 200 yards was a personal best and season best for the Terps.  It was the best running performance by a Terp since Perry ran for 237 at Wake Forest in 2003.

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Maryland-ECU in Military Bowl: Pre-Game Notes

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Turtle Power live chat for Military Bowl coverage live from RFK Stadium***

WASHINGTON — With the chaotic circumstances surrounding the Maryland football program over the last two weeks, Ralph Friedgen will coach his final game as Terrapins head coach against East Carolina in the Military Bowl this afternoon at RFK Stadium.

In what’s certain to be an emotional atmosphere, the Terps, however, will be without four players due to academic reasons. Defensive end Drew Gloster, receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler, and guard Pete White are ineligible to play against the Pirates.

There should be no shortage of points this afternoon (2:30, ESPN) as East Carolina averages 38.2 points per game (12th in the nation) while Maryland has scored 30.7 points per contest (41st). Of course, the difference will show defensively as the Pirates surrender 43.4 points per game (118th in the nation) while Don Brown’s unit surrenders a respectable 22.3 (37th).

Two talented quarterbacks will be on display as Maryland’s Danny O’Brien (21 touchdowns) has had a sensational freshman season, earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors, to lead the Terps to a six-game improvement from last year’s disastrous 2-10 season. ECU quarterback Dominique Davis has an incredible 3,699 yards through the air and has tossed 36 touchdowns to lead the Pirates aerial attack.

As we do for every Maryland game, the Turtle Power live chat will be open at 2:30 p.m. as the Terps look to improve to 9-4 and send Friedgen off with a final victory. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the latest updates and analysis from Washington, D.C. all afternoon.

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Top 10 Ralph Friedgen Era Victories

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Yep…it’s another list. Hey, it’s the end of the year.

As Ralph Friedgen’s tenure as University of Maryland football coach comes to a close with this afternoon’s Military Bowl contest against East Carolina at RFK Stadium (Luke Jones hosts our “Turtle Power” live chat here at WNST.net at 2:30), I figured I’d look back on the era of “The Fridge” by remembering his best victories as Maryland football coach.

(Edit from GMC: It was brought to my attention at 9:55am that my friend Patrick Stevens of D1scourse.com posted a similar list at 9:43am. S.O.B. I encourage you to check his list out as well.)

Honorable Mention: Maryland 24, Purdue 7 (December 29, 2006 Champs Sports Bowl Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, FL); Maryland 35, California 27 (September 13, 2008 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 23, Navy 20 (September 3, 2005 M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, MD); Maryland 17, Navy 14 (September 6, 2010 M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, MD); Maryland 26, Wake Forest 0 (October 18, 2008 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 20, Clemson 17 (September 27, 2008 Memorial Stadium Clemson, SC); Maryland 14, Miami 13 (November 11, 2006); Maryland 27, Florida State 24 (October 28, 2006 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 28, Virginia 26 (October 14, 2006 Scott Stadium Charlottesville, VA)

10. Maryland 38, NC State 31 (November 27, 2010 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz6qO2a5nRI[/youtube]

The last regular season win of Friedgen’s career certainly stands out to some extent.

It looked (at the time) like this was the “statement” win the Terrapins needed with Danny O’Brien under center to prove they were headed in the direction of an ACC title.

They might still be, it just won’t be with Friedgen at the helm.

Wherever Torrey Smith ranks amongst the great players in Friedgen’s tenure, this was clearly his best game. He was absolutely DOMINANT against the Wolfpack…who I have a funny feeling will show up again on this list.

9. Maryland 37, Clemson 20 (November 10, 2001 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T6pGkM-Sxw[/youtube]

This game was already going to be meaningful, as it was the first time Byrd Stadium was sold out in the Friedgen era.

After North Carolina State beat Florida State earlier in the day, the game became very significant-as it put the Terps on the track towards the BCS.

The game itself wasn’t of the epic nature; but the Terps had lost eight straight to the Tigers before finally breaking through.

This was also the first “rush the field” moment in Friedgen’s ten seasons.

It wasn’t quite as big as the team’s next win, but we’ll get to that.

8. Maryland 26, NC State 24 (November 22, 2003 Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh, NC)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQAxI9q5dI[/youtube]

This game was significant for multiple reasons.

First, it finished off a perfect 4-0 record for Friedgen against NCSU while Phillip Rivers was quarterback.

Second, the game did have a bit of an epic nature after Nick Novak missed what would have been a game-tying extra point. Leroy Ambush forced a turnover, and Novak was able to get redemption by kicking the game-winning field goal.

And third, it kept Maryland on track for what would eventually be a Gator Bowl berth on New Year’s Day.

7. Maryland 20, Georgia Tech 17 OT (October 11, 2001 Bobby Dodd Stadium Atlanta, GA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtcYJK21R0s[/youtube]

This might not be high enough on the list. Hell, I know it isn’t high enough on the list. But I already made the list. I’m not changing it now.

This was the very first significant win in the Friedgen era at Maryland, and it was absolutely miraculous.

Yellow Jackets RB Joe Burns inexplicably ran out of bounds late in regulation with his team ahead 17-14; setting up a career long 46 yard field goal by Novak (who had been AWFUL up to that point in his Maryland career) to send the game to overtime. In OT, another Burns fumble would seal the first win over a ranked team for Friedgen at his alma mater.

With the win, Friedgen’s Terps improved to 6-0; forcing fans throughout the Mid-Atlantic to take notice of what was happening in College Park.

6. Maryland 34, Rutgers 24 (September 29, 2007 Rutgers Stadium Piscataway, NJ)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=485yysHK7m8[/youtube]

Of all of the wins on this list, this is certainly the most improbable.

When Jordan Steffy went down against the Scarlet Knights, a large number of Maryland fans had to think to themselves “who the hell is Chris Turner?”

They’d find out in a big way.

Perhaps the game was more significant because of the sheer number of then-current or former Garden State residents who went to the University of Maryland.

There were definitely a number of households torn up and down the I-95 corridor because of the matchup.

For Friedgen, it would be the first of two wins over Top 10 opponents that season.

5. Maryland 41, West Virginia 7 (January 1, 2004 Gator Bowl Alltel Stadium Jacksonville, FL)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q63nyT2mhtM[/youtube]

The ONLY thing about this game that gets it on the list was the fact that it was a New Year’s Day game played on NBC-making it arguably the highest profile win in the Friedgen era.

The game wasn’t exactly exciting, save for some impressive Scott McBrien to Steve Suter theatrics. The matchup was disappointing, as the Terps had already posted a blowout victory over WVU earlier in the year.

It was the third straight high-profile bowl game Maryland reached to start Friedgen’s career. Unfortunately, it was also the last.

It was also the last time Friedgen would collect a victory over the Mountaineers.

Had those last two statements been different, the Friedgen era might not be coming to a close in DC today.

4. Maryland 42, Boston College 35 (November 11, 2007 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6di8qtmN9Zo[/youtube]

When he’s 70 years old, Chris Turner will still be able to tell everyone he talks to that he once beat Matt Ryan.

Ryan entered the Saturday night national TV showdown (ABC) near the front of the Heisman Trophy race. He didn’t necessarily disappoint (421 yards passing and 3TD’s) in front of the College Park crowd, but he was outdone by a guy who was better known for looking like Napoleon Dynamite.

Turner threw for 337 yards and 3TD’s himself, while Lance Ball added 122 yards on the ground and a rushing TD. Maryland was ahead 42-21 in the second half before eventually holding off the Eagles late.

It was an impressive victory for a frustrating team. Friedgen’s Terps beat two Top 10 teams that season, but finished just 6-6 and lost to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl.

3. Maryland 20, Florida State 17 (October 30, 2004 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGX8Mvr5Evw[/youtube]

Maryland was 0-14 all time against FSU until this game.

Friedgen was ofer in his first three contests against the Seminoles himself until this game.

History will forever note that Joel Statham was the first ever Maryland QB to beat Florida State.

Six years later, I still really can’t believe it happened.

2. Maryland 30, Tennessee 3 (December 31, 2002 Peach Bowl Georgia Dome Atlanta, GA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDi9rXxCGSQ[/youtube]

You can count Ralph Friedgen’s wins over SEC programs on one finger.

Not only was Maryland’s Peach Bowl romp over the Volunteers the first significantly high-profile (New Year’s Eve on ESPN) non-conference win under Friedgen, it was also the statement game for E.J. Henderson; who will probably go down as the best player of the Friedgen era.

It was the type of win that allowed Maryland fans to measure the progress the Terps had made through two seasons.

It was also the type of win that made fans think more postseason wins over SEC teams would be coming in the future.

Obviously they didn’t.

1. Maryland 23, NC State 19 (November 17, 2001 Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh, NC)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QszioOHki8[/youtube]

Shaun Hill and Guilian Gary will forever be remembered as the combination that sent Maryland to their first ACC Championship in 16 years and their first Orange Bowl berth since 1956.

The only unfortunate thing about #1 is that most coaches probably don’t want to be remembered as collecting their most significant victory in their first season.

Friedgen never returned to this moment, but it doesn’t take anything away from the victory itself.

It was an awesome moment in University of Maryland athletics history.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Ravens CB Wilson discusses Friedgen firing and Terps football

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Ravens CB Wilson discusses Friedgen firing and Terps football

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Luke Jones

The abrupt firing of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen has garnered plenty of negative reaction from those connected to the program on a variety of levels.

So it was surprising to hear Ravens cornerback and former Terrapin Josh Wilson’s comments supporting the decision to remove the man with whom he shares a special bond and even invited — along with Friedgen’s wife Gloria — to his wedding.

“Whatever the decision is that [athletic director Kevin Anderson and the university] made, I think they made it in the best interest of Maryland football,” Wilson said. “Whenever they make a decision like that, they’re looking out for the future and what’s best for the team. If they felt that was the best thing to do, then so be it and I support them.”

Wilson’s bond with Friedgen runs much deeper than his four years in College Park from 2003 to 2006. Working as a graduate assistant at Maryland in the early 1970s, Friedgen briefly coached Wilson’s father Tim, who went on to play eight years as a fullback in the NFL. Tim passed away due to a heart attack in 1996 when his son was only 11 years old, but Josh would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps to the University of Maryland where Friedgen had coached the Terps to a 21-5 record in his first two seasons as the head man.

The DeMatha product’s time in College Park was an accurate representation of the inconsistency plaguing the program following Friedgen’s first three seasons. Wilson appeared in 11 games as a freshman in 2003 when the Terps finished with a 10-3 mark that included a Gator Bowl win over West Virginia. However, Wilson’s sophomore and junior seasons saw the Terps suffer back-to-back 5-6 seasons before rebounding with a 9-4 record and a Champs Sports Bowl win to complete his collegiate career in 2006.

That senior season saw Wilson blossom into an honorable mention All-America choice and earn honorable mention all-ACC honors. Several months later, the Seattle Seahawks selected Wilson in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. It was an impressive feat by Wilson who — along with fellow Ravens teammate Domonique Foxworth a couple years earlier — Friedgen awarded the opportunity to play as a true freshman despite his slight frame (5-foot-9, 187 pounds as a senior).

“My time at Maryland came in with a bang and left with a bang,” Wilson said. “Two good years [in 2003 and 2006], and I’m glad I had an opportunity to play under coach Friedgen and his staff. I enjoyed everything.”

Despite his loyalty to his college coach, Wilson understands the big picture and the financial motivation behind the change. During his time at Maryland, Wilson was a two-time Academic All-ACC selection and earned a degree in marketing in December 2006.

His brief NFL career has further taught him the business side of football, himself traded by the Seahawks to Baltimore less than two weeks before the start of the 2010 season. Despite starting 12 games in 2009, the fourth-year cornerback did not fit into new coach Pete Carroll’s plans in Seattle and soon found himself back in Maryland, this time with the Ravens.

The 25-year-old flashed his passion for the alma mater recently on a nationally-televised game in primetime, proclaiming he was from the “University of Maryland Dirty Terps,” the “dirty” nickname coined for the Maryland secondary during his time in college. Wilson, however, acknowledged the lack of interest in the program is a result of the inability to recapture the early success of Friedgen’s tenure.

“Ticket sales go up when you’re winning,” said Wilson, who was aware that season ticket sales have dropped five straight seasons. “If we get back to competing and winning more games, and we’re winning consistently — not every other year — next thing you know, ticket sales will be right back. I’m not worried about selling out the stadium. When we get those [wins], people will show up.”

Wilson has talked to former Maryland teammates about the announcement but is waiting until the appropriate time to reach out to the man who labeled the cornerback as a “gamer” and “hard-nosed” at the collegiate level. Friedgen is currently preparing to coach his last game as Maryland coach against East Carolina in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on December 29.

“Right now, there’s a lot of stuff going on, and it’s hectic right now,” Wilson said. “I’m going to give him his time, give him his space. I would, of course, want the same and [then I'll] reach out to him and see how things are.”

While preparing for the Ravens’ upcoming playoff run, Wilson can only wait to see how the coaching search plays out and how it affects a few of his former assistant coaches whose futures remain in limbo. It’s the part of the business Wilson dislikes, but he offered a similar mantra to the one proclaimed by Anderson when Friedgen’s departure became official on Monday.

“It’s a new day in Terrapin Nation. We just hope that we take this program, which we’ve been good the last couple years, and turn it into a great program.”

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Terps flatten NJIT as Howard steps into starting role

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Rarely has the focus of Maryland athletics been solely on football so late in December during Gary Williams’ 22-year tenure in College Park, but the drastic changes of the last week would overshadow any top basketball program.

The lack of buzz is also due in part to the utter mystery surrounding Gary Williams’ young team as it plays out a string of three nondescript games before traveling to Durham to face Duke on January 9. The Terps have competed well with top-25 teams, but they haven’t beaten any either. Through the season’s first dozen games, Williams continues to search for the right combination in the backcourt to complement the dominating inside presence of sophomore Jordan Williams.

Returning to the hardwood Wednesday night after a nine-day layoff, the Terps cruised to a 89-50 victory over lowly NJIT that highlighted the shortcomings of the Highlanders more than any real potential of this Maryland team. In the final 3:54 of the first half, Maryland used a 20-1 run to turn a comfortable 16-point lead into a comical 53-18 halftime deficit.

However, the significant story to come from the blowout victory was a new lineup sent out by Gary Williams after weeks of speculation that change was coming to the backcourt. Freshman Pe’Shon Howard replaced Cliff Tucker in the starting lineup and ran the point as Adrian Bowie slid to the two-guard position against the Highlanders. Williams had used the same starting lineup in the team’s first 11 games, deferring to his senior backcourt with Howard and fellow freshman Terrell Stoglin coming off the bench.

In his starting debut, Howard finished with four points and four assists, at times looking hesitant running the halfcourt offense but earning praise from Williams and his teammates. Bowie scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers in an impressive shooting night by the senior.

“Everything depends on practice this year, and that is why Pe’Shon was out there tonight,” Williams said. “A lot of it is how we play different people on the court. He came in [in previous games] and Adrian was playing well at the off-guard, so it made sense to put [Howard] into the game.”

In contrast, Tucker responded well to the demotion, posting nine points, five assists, and four steals in only 12 first-half minutes. The senior looked comfortable in a similar role to the one he held for his three previous seasons as a collegian.

“You never know how subbing a player is going to affect them,” Williams said. “You may lose a player, or you may motivate them. I really thought bringing Cliff off the bench would help him.”

Whether the move results in a stabilization of the backcourt or is simply another blip on an already-inconsistent radar, a change hardly comes as a surprise. The Maryland coach has never hesitated to start freshmen guards, with Eric Hayes and Grevis Vasquez the most recent examples. It was only a matter of time before Howard or Stoglin broke into the starting lineup; the better question is whether both freshmen will be there at some point this season.

Despite last year’s ACC regular season co-championship feeling like a distant memory and the early-season struggles of this season, the Terps find themselves in nearly an identical position to where they were at this point a year ago. The 2009-10 team’s only notable non-conference win came against Indiana, a team not much better than the dreadful Penn State team the Terps defeated a few weeks ago.

The ACC looks like a one-horse race with Duke blowing all competition out of the water, but how the rest of the conference standings will look is anyone’s guess as we approach January. Maryland could easily find itself fighting for one of the top four or five spots or languishing in mediocrity.

We know how dominant Jordan Williams can be — the sophomore posted his sixth straight double-double — but the fate of the Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes rests with their backcourt.

“A large part of the point guard’s deal is to get us to play well offensively, whether that is making the shot or the pass,” Williams said. “It is a tough position, and that is why a lot of coaches were point guards because you have to be so intelligent.”

Perhaps the Terps took a step forward with Howard sliding into the spot, but if not, Williams will continue rearranging the puzzle pieces.

“It was good to see if [Howard] could take that role, and I think as a freshman it’s kind of tough,” said junior Sean Mosley, who started 16 games as a freshman forward two years ago. “I think he came out and did a great job. And no matter if Cliff is starting or Pe’Shon, we’re a team, and that’s the thing coach is trying to see. He’s trying to see what’s the best five out there for him. He’ll probably switch it up next game.”

It’s an answer Gary Williams needs to find sooner rather than later.

NOTES: Maryland’s 39-point win was its largest margin of victory this season. The Terps’ 58.1 percent shooting from the field was also a season-best clip. … Dino Gregory has scored 14 points in back-to-back games, matching his career high. The senior also grabbed nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double-double. … The Terps set a season high with nine 3-pointers. … Six Maryland players scored in double figures, the first time since the Illinois game earlier this season. … The Terps will now have a week off for the holidays before hosting North Florida on December 29.

***Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Gary Williams, Adrian Bowie, Jordan Williams, and Sean Mosley about the Terps’ easy victory over NJIT.***

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