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Edsall not concerned about what Franklin is doing at Penn State

Posted on 28 July 2014 by WNST Staff

MARYLAND COACH RANDY EDSALL

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Coach Randy Edsall. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH EDSALL: It’s a pleasure to be here on behalf of our University of Maryland, our athletic department, and we’re very thrilled to be a part of the Big Ten Conference and everything that it represents and stands for. And I know that the three young men that I brought here today with me  have been very, very impressed with what they’ve seen so far. And three outstanding guys that you’ll get a chance to talk to and visit with.

And C.J. Brown, our professional student, who is back for his sixth year, leader of our team as a quarterback, outstanding young man from Pittsburgh who hopefully has all the injuries behind him now. Had a good year last year, and we expect big things out of him this year as we look forward to this season.

We also have Jeremiah Johnson, a young man who is a defensive back for us, that is coming back off an injury from a year ago, fully recovered now, and has been a great leader for our team since he’s been at Maryland and somebody that’s 100 percent healthy now and ready to go.

And then also Stefon Diggs, our wide receiver, a junior wide receiver who has come back off his injury, and ready to go this year and fully recovered and really has done a good job this offseason.

But three outstanding young men. C.J. is into his master’s degree. J.J. has his degree, and Stefon’s doing an outstanding job in the classroom.

Just to give you a little bit about who we are at Maryland and what we’re all about. One of the things that we really believe in, and I think it fits into what the Big Ten is all about, we’re a program that really believes in developing our kids holistically, and that means that we’re going to develop them as students, as athletes, and as people, and to make sure that we provide them with all the things necessary so they can go on and be successful once their academic career is over, athletic career is over. And that’s something that we take a lot of pride in and it’s something that we’re able to attract young men to come to Maryland.

The one thing that we want to do also is we want to be able to win at the highest level and win the right way and to make sure that we’re
providing these young men with opportunities that maybe they didn’t think they could get, but also what we want to do is we want to provide them with better opportunities than what myself and our coaches have had for ourselves.

So we know we have a tremendous challenge that’s ahead of us this year as we enter the Big Ten, but one that we’re really looking
forward to.

We have 10 new opponents that we have to prepare for. So the spring and the summer has been a whirlwind for us as coaches from the
standpoint of getting to know the teams here in the Big Ten that we’re going to be going against and understanding their personnel, understanding their schemes and what they like to do.

But, again, we’re also looking forward to the fact that being a member of this conference, because of what this conference stands for
academically, the collegiate model that it represents in terms of helping the student-athletes grow as students and as athletes. With that, I’ll open it up to any questions.

Q. Have you sought any advice from other coaches about making a move to a new league?
COACH EDSALL: We’ve talked to some of the other coaches, but the good thing for me is the fact that I’ve been involved with this quite a few times in my career, having gone to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the expansion team, going into the league there as an assistant coach, and then also made the jump from 1-AA to the Big East.

So again, the biggest focus I think that we’ve had to have for us making this move is really just finding out who the other teams are and
studying what they do, but also what we have to do is make sure that we continue to do what we do and continue to make sure that we get better.

So that’s been our whole focus is continuing to work on making ourselves better and enhancing what we do, but getting an understanding and getting a feel for all the teams in this outstanding league. And I think we’ve done a good job with that throughout the spring and summer.

Q. I’m not asking you to look past your first game, but your first five. I want you to describe what’s that atmosphere going to be like at your place when Ohio State comes in the first Big Ten home game?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I think it will be electric. I think it will be a sold-out crowd. It will be something that I know our fans are looking forward to. Ohio State is a program with great tradition and history and one that has done very, very well. And it will be something that I think everybody that’s in attendance and everybody that gets a chance to watch on TV wished that they were there, because I think it will be a ton of excitement, one that I know we’re looking forward to as well as all the other games we’re going to play.

Q. Wondering, coming from the ACC, is there a certain type of player that you recruit when you’re in that conference, and is there
another type of player that you have to turn your attention to towards recruiting in the Big Ten now?
COACH EDSALL: The thing that, from a recruiting standpoint, we have a philosophy of who we are offensively and defensively and what we want to do special teams. We’re not going to change the type of young man that we want to recruit to the University of Maryland just because we’re coming to the Big Ten.

We have things that we believe in and what we want to do and all’s we’re going to do is we’re going to continue to recruit that model and
continue to recruit the business student-athletes that we can that fit what we want at the University of Maryland.

And again, we want to recruit the biggest, the fastest, the strongest players that we can in order to give us a chance to be able to compete for championships here in the Big Ten. And the one thing that we have seen by being a part of the Big Ten now is it’s really enhanced our recruiting.

We’ve expanded a little bit from our foothold that we were in, and kids want to be a part of being in the Big Ten in terms of the exposure
that you get through the Big Ten Network. The opportunity to play bowl games in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Detroit, that’s something that’s very, very appealing.

And so again, we’re already seeing those benefits from a recruiting standpoint, but we’re not going to change the model that we have based on maybe what everybody else does.

Q. I asked Coach Flood this question, I’ll ask it to you as well: The move for your two schools came very quickly, it seemed at least
publicly, from one league to the other. From a football standpoint, what was your initial reaction to this and just overall maybe the
story behind the scenes about how quickly this all came about?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I just think it’s an outstanding move for our institution. Not only from a football standpoint, but also from an academic standpoint, to be a part of the CIC and the consortium, those things.

I think everybody’s a winner, and I think that’s what, really, college athletics is all about and what institutions are all about, that everybody benefits from this, not just our student-athletes, but our students in general and our faculty.

And it was something that I wasn’t privy to. I just know that I had a discussion with my athletic director, Kevin Anderson, and he asked me about the possibility — what I thought about the possibility of going to the Big Ten. And I just told him I was all for it. I think it would be a really good move for us and one that I would embrace, and I’m sure that I know our players would embrace, to be part of the history and the tradition and what the Big Ten stands for.

So the thing is, I’m just glad that we’re finally to the point now where we can go and play games. It has been a long time, it seems, to get to this point. But I’m glad we’re here, and I’m glad it’s getting close to August and starting practice and getting the opportunity to compete against these outstanding programs and institutions that we’re going to compete against.

Q. Just curious, your first go-around here with the Big Ten Media Days, did you keep an eye what was going on in Greensboro last week with the ACC Media Days? Was it tough for you to let that go, so to speak?
COACH EDSALL: No. I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of St. Thomas.

So, again, change is inevitable in life, and what you do is you embrace change. And at the end of last season, we pretty much put it forward that this is where we’re going and this is what we have to concentrate on. And this is what our future is.

And, again, I’ve got to make sure that I keep everybody doing those things and looking straight ahead and concentrating on what we have to.

So it’s great to be here in Chicago, to see everybody here and be part of this. It’s really a lot of fun.

Q. Penn State had some success recruiting in your area for those faster, stronger players they talk about. How do you compete against a program that James Franklin brings?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I think when it comes to recruiting, there’s always a philosophy that you have a profile that you’re going to recruit.

And a lot of times, some of those guys that maybe go elsewhere don’t fit the profile that you’re looking for. And we know that we’re in an area where there’s going to be a lot of schools come in and recruit where we’re at. The thing we just stay focused on is just recruiting that profile and recruiting that young man that fits what we’re looking for.

And recruiting is a very competitive, very competitive game, and we’re going to go other places into people’s states and recruit people from there.

So again, I think the biggest thing with recruiting is getting the guys that fit what you’re looking for. And it also comes down to this: I think you have to be a staff that is good at developing those players, because there’s no player that comes into the program as a finished product.

And I think I have a great coaching staff. I know I have a great coaching staff of being able to bring young men in and to be able to develop them and them to be better than what people thought they would be or better than what maybe they thought they could be.

So getting kids on your campus is one thing. But it’s what you do with those kids once they’re on your campus that truly makes a difference in your program. And that’s one of the things that we’re starting to see at the University of Maryland, is we have 20 starters coming back and we have a lot of depth as these kids are getting better.

And to me, that’s the real thing about recruiting. It’s not only getting the kids there, it’s getting them developed and making them better
once they’re in your program and they’re there for the four or five years.

 

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Pasadena native Gaia (Gilman) gets Penn State football honor

Posted on 13 April 2014 by WNST Staff

Penn State Blue Squad Topples White, 37-0 in 
Front of 72,000

Chiappialle runs for 63 yards, two scores as Blue defeats White on 70 degree day in Beaver Stadium

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; April, 12, 2014 – Spring arrived in Happy Valley in full force for the annual Penn State Blue-White Game presented by AAA, as an estimated 72,000 fans watched the Blue squad defeat the White squad, 37-0, inside a sun-drenched Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The crowd of 72,000 was third-largest in Blue-White Game history, trailing only 76,500 in 2009 and 73,000 in 2008. The temperature hit 70 degrees as the huge crowd took in Coach James Franklin’s first Blue-White Game.

After the return of the players’  pre-game autograph session opened the day, the team took to the field and made what Franklin called “great progress” in the locker room after the contest. The first-year Nittany Lion mentor expressed that he was pleased with the strides the squad made during the 15-practice spring session, but made a point that there was still ample of work to do before the team opens fall camp in August to begin on-field preparations for the Aug. 30 opener vs. UCF in the Croke Park Classic.

After Sam Ficken’s (Valparaiso, Ind.) 26-yard field goal opened the scoring for the Blue team with 9:26 left in the first quarter, sophomore running back Cole Chiappialle (Beaver Falls) piled up some points late in the second quarter. 



Chiappialle carried the ball five times for 32 yards and two scores over the final three minutes of the half. After a punt, Chiappialle covered the final nine yards to paydirt to push the Blue team ahead, 10-0, and following Ryan Keiser’s (Selinsgrove) interception of D.J. Crook (West Barnstable, Mass.), he jolted 23 yards over the left side to make it 17-0 heading to the locker room.

Chiappialle finished with nine carries for a game-high 63 rushing yards and added two catches for 17 yards.

The defense was on point for the Blue team, as well, recording four of the five turnovers in the game (3 INT, 1 Fumble). Keiser, Trevor Williams (Baltimore, Md.) and Matthew Baney (State College) all grabbed interceptions, while Keiser forced a fumble that Jesse Della Valle (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recovered. Adam Cole (Belle Vernon) recovered a fumble to account for the only turnover forced for the White squad.

Baney’s interception opened the scoring in the second half, as the junior rumbled for 28 yards to cross the goal line and push the Blue team ahead, 23-0.

A bit of trickery caught the White squad’s defense off guard late in the third quarter when wideout Eugene Lewis (Wilkes-Barre) found Matt Zanellato (Burke, Va.) down the right side line for a 56-yard touchdown pass. Lewis came in motion and freshman quarterback Michael O’Connor (Ottawa, Ontario) pitched the ball to the speedy receiver. After a few steps, Lewis stopped and connected with Zanellato, who was wide open behind the defense for a 56-yard scoring strike. Akeel Lynch (Toronto, Ontario) capped the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds late in the game to account for the 37-0 final score.

All four quarterbacks on the roster completed passes in the game, led by O’Connor’s 81 yards on 11-of-16 passing for the Blue team. Crook completed 10-of-17 passes for 68 yards for the White team.

Eight different receivers caught passes for the Blue Team and 10 White squad receivers grabbed catches. Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) led the Blue side with four grabs and DeShawn Baker (Philadelphia) grabbed a pair of catches for eight yards to pace the White contingent. Zanellato’s 68 yards on two catches led all receivers.

On defense, the Blue’s C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich.) led all players with five tackles, including 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss. Keiser forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and came away with three stops, as well. Cornberbacks Da’Quan Davis (Baltimore, Md.) and Devin Pryor (San Bernardino, Calif.) each had four stops to lead the White, with Davis recording four solo stops.

Four Nittany Lions were recognized for their spring practice efforts at halftime. Junior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich.) was presented the Jim O’Hora Award, as the redshirt junior switched from defensive end to defensive tackle during the spring. Redshirt sophomore Brian Gaia (Pasadena, Md.) transitioned from defensive line to offensive guard and earned the Red Worrell Award. Junior defensive end Deion Barnes (Philadelphia) was selected by the coaching staff as the recipient of the Frank Patrick Memorial Award.

Franklin and his staff added a fourth award, Coaches Special Team Award, which was presented to Ficken.

The Worrell Award is presented to the offensive player whose spring contribution is most worthy of special tribute. The prize was first presented in 1958 and is named in the honor of the late Red Worrell, a high school All-American from Centerville HS who was tragically electrocuted in an accident after an exceptional season on the 1957 Nittany Lion freshman team. Past Worrell Award winners include former offensive coordinator Fran Ganter, Lydell Mitchell, Mickey Shuler, Steve Smith, Kyle Brady, Bryant Johnson, Rodney Kinlaw, Graham Zug, Matt Stankiewitch and Ty Howle, the 2013 recipient.

The defensive award is named in honor of Jim O’Hora, a long-time Penn State assistant coach who was a member of the coaching staff for 31 years. Loyalty and attitude especially characterized Jim O’Hora and has typified many of the previous winners, including Walker Lee Ashley, Andre Collins, Michael Haynes, Anthony Adams, Tim Shaw, Michael Mauti, Jordan Hill and Stephon Morris, along with Jordan Lucas and C.J. Olaniyan in 2013. The O’Hora Award was first presented in 1977.

The Frank Patrick Memorial “Total Commitment” Award goes to junior class squad members who consistently follow through with their responsibilities in all facets of the football program and do so in exemplary manner. This includes academic pursuits, off-season preparation, in-season commitment, demeanor and community service. Jeff Hartings, Wally Richardson, Justin Kurpeikis, Bryan Scott, Robbie Gould, Josh Hull, John Urschel and the 2013 duo of Miles Dieffenbach and Mike Hull are among the previous recipients. Patrick was a member of the Lions’ coaching staff from 1949-73.

Urschel, who won the James E. Sullivan Award Friday night in Orlando as the nation’s top amateur athlete, presented the Patrick Award to Barnes.

Franklin and nine other head coaches will be participating in the 17-stop Penn State Coaches Caravan, starting May 1 at the Pegula Ice Arena on the University Park campus and ending May 22 in Erie. Franklin is scheduled to appear at all 17 events. More than 4,500 Penn State alumni and fans have registered during the initial three weeks. For all the Coaches Caravan event dates and locations, go to alumni.psu.edu/events/coachescaravan. 

Penn State returns 41 letterwinners and 15 starters (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist) and will host Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State (Nov. 29), Ohio State (Oct. 25), Northwestern (Sept. 27-Homecoming) and Maryland (Nov. 1) during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule. The Nittany Lions will play a trio of 2013 Top 10 teams this fall.

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Former Maryland QB O’Brien transferring to Catawba College

Posted on 20 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Former University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin quarterback Danny O’Brien has found a new college home.

The former Terps and Badgers QB will spend his final season of eligibility at Division II Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. The news was first reported by Scout.com. O’Brien’s final college home will not be far from Kennersville, NC-where O’Brien played at East Forsyth High School.

O’Brien spent two years of eligibility with the Terrapins in 2010 and 2011, claiming ACC Freshman of the Year honors in 2010. O’Brien was 192/337 that season, throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 TD’s while helping to lead the Terps to their most recent bowl appearance, a win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl.

At the end of the 2010 season, then Maryland Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach in Waiting James Franklin left for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt and the school chose to successful head coach Ralph Friedgen. O’Brien chose to stay at Maryland for his sophomore season under new head coach Randy Edsall, finishing his degree at the University in the process. O’Brien began splitting time with fellow sophomore QB C.J. Brown before having his season cut short when suffering a broken arm in a blowout loss to Notre Dame.

After his sophomore season, O’Brien elected to take advantage of a NCAA rule that allowed graduate students to transfer without penalty  to a school that offers graduate programs not available at the previous University. O’Brien was originally blocked from seeking a transfer to Vanderbilt by Edsall, but then released to seek transfer to any non-ACC school. Edsall however did file a complaint accusing Franklin of having improper contact with O’Brien before the quarterback had decided to transfer.

Ultimately, O’Brien chose to transfer to Wisconsin. He played in just seven games during his junior season in 2012, being replaced both by freshman Joel Stave and later by senior Curt Phillips as then Badgers head coach Bret Bielema cited struggles with turnovers.

O’Brien was once viewed as a legitimate NFL prospect. Only a few former Indians have ever reached the NFL Draft, including former Baltimore Colts OT David Taylor (1973).

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Former Terps assistant Franklin apologizes for wives comment

Posted on 01 June 2012 by WNST Staff

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Former Maryland quarterback O’Brien granted permission to transfer to Vanderbilt

Posted on 22 February 2012 by WNST Staff

After initially prohibiting former starting quarterback Danny O’Brien from going to Vanderbilt, the University of Maryland has had a change of heart.

O’Brien will have the opportunity to join former Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin if he so chooses after coach Randy Edsall had balked at the idea of the quarterback joining the Commodores. Offensive tackle Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson will also have the chance to transfer to Vanderbilt where Franklin led the program to a 6-7 record and an appearance in the Liberty Bowl in his first season. Vanderbilt is not schedule to play Maryland in the near future.

“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 Maryland. “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.”

However, whether Franklin had improper contact with O’Brien remains in question as Maryland has reportedly filed a complaint with the Atlantic Coast Conference. The matter will be turned over to the SEC for further investigation.

Edsall’s transfer policy does not allow former players to transfer to other ACC schools or upcoming opponents outside the conference.

O’Brien is on track to graduate in the spring, leaving him two years of eligibility at the FBS level. If he elects to transfer to a school with a graduate program not offered at Maryland, O’Brien would be able to play immediately without having to sit out for a year.

Franklin was instrumental in O’Brien’s recruitment out of North Carolina, and the two shared a close relationship before Franklin’s departure to become the head coach at Vanderbilt in December 2010.

 

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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 forcing out Friedgen, inviting in Leach

Posted on 18 December 2010 by Luke Jones

Any head coach wants to go out on his own terms, but it so rarely happens as Ralph Friedgen has painfully learned this week after 10 years at Maryland.

Despite being told by new athletic director Kevin Anderson that he would return to coach the Terps in the final year of his current contract in 2011, Friedgen has been forcefully asked to take a buyout and retire, ending his 10-year run as head coach of his alma mater.

With Friedgen exiting, it appears former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is the Terps’ desired successor. Sources tell WNST.net the hiring of Leach is imminent with the controversial coach being targeted as the big name needed to revitalize a struggling program.

Leach declined comment when reached by WNST.net Saturday afternoon, as he and Friedgen are close and the high-profile candidate wished for more clarity to the situation before speaking further.

Of course, given Leach’s controversial exit from Lubbock, Anderson could face opposition from influential university supporters in the days to come. Leach was suspended and eventually fired at Texas Tech after the controversial treatment of a football player who had suffered a concussion. The 49-year-old, however, believed his termination was due in part to the bitter contract negotiations taking place at the time.

Leach has a close relationship with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, a former Maryland football player and major contributor to the athletic program. Plank would likely sell Leach as the collegiate football face of Under Armour should he take the job at Maryland.

Other names such as former Maryland assistant and New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley and former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham are not considered as candidates for the head job at this time, as numerous sources claim Leach is the school’s only current target.

Friedgen’s departure comes after he was named the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year following a six-game turnaround from a disastrous 2-10 record in 2009. According to several sources, Friedgen’s wish for a contract extension was not well-received by the new athletic director who couldn’t ignore the program’s lackluster record and financial problems in recent seasons.

Friday’s announcement of Vanderbilt hiring offensive coordinator James Franklin as its new head coach likely sped up the timetable of Anderson’s desire to make a new mark on a program that’s struggled in recent years. Franklin had previously been the coach-in-waiting and the program’s top recruiter, which likely would have led to fallout with recruiting even if Friedgen had remained next season.

With the program’s financial struggles hardly a secret, reports indicate Maryland football will fall $2 million short of expected revenues this season. As the recently-renovated Tyser Tower holds unsold suites at Byrd Stadium and season tickets sales have declined for five straight years, this bold move is about pumping new blood in the program.

In a teleconference regarding Franklin’s exit on Friday afternoon, Anderson would not confirm Friedgen’s return in 2011. The athletic director also said he did not make a counteroffer to persuade Franklin to remain with the Terps, adding fuel to the speculative fire that he was aiming to clean house entirely.

Maryland will play East Carolina in the Military Bowl on December 29 in a game now looking far more intriguing given this week’s drama and the immediate and long-term future of the program. Friedgen is, however, expected to coach at RFK Stadium in his final game with the Terps.

WNST.net’s Glenn Clark and Drew Forrester contributed to this article.

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Ralph Friedgen following Franklin out the door at Maryland?

Posted on 17 December 2010 by Luke Jones

On the same day former offensive coordinator James Franklin officially became the head coach at Vanderbilt, an even bigger bombshell is brewing in College Park.

Comcast SportsNet’s Chick Hernandez is reporting the University of Maryland has asked Ralph Friedgen to accept a buyout of the final year of his contract, potentially ending his 10-year run as head coach of the Terps.

New athletic director Kevin Anderson previously stated last month that Friedgen would return to coach in 2011, but the departure of Franklin — previously the coach-in-waiting and Maryland’s top recruiter — may have accelerated his desire to make a new mark on a program that’s struggled in recent years despite a successful 8-4 campaign this season. Friedgen was named the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year following a six-game turnaround from a year ago.

In a teleconference regarding Franklin’s exit on Friday afternoon, Anderson would not confirm Friedgen’s return in 2011. The athletic director also said he did not make a counteroffer to persuade Franklin to remain with the Terps, adding fuel to the speculative fire that he’s aiming to clean house.

Maryland will play East Carolina in the Military Bowl on December 29 in a game now looking far more intriguing given this week’s drama and the immediate and long-term future of the program.

Strangely enough, I opined on Tuesday that Anderson was the wild card for the future of Maryland football and could elect to wipe the slate clean to take the struggling program in a new direction. I just never dreamed the shakeup would come so soon.

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Franklin’s departure significant to future of Maryland football

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Luke Jones

The report of offensive coordinator James Franklin accepting an offer to become the head coach at Vanderbilt provides conflicting feelings if you’re a supporter of Maryland football.

On one hand, the coach-in-waiting was the program’s heavyweight recruiter, a charismatic 38-year-old who can make the connections with young football players that current head coach Ralph Friedgen cannot at the age of 63. Franklin was entrusted to revitalize recruiting after the program plateaued — or regressed — in recent years after Friedgen’s success at the beginning of his 10-season tenure.

Following a 2-10 season in 2009 when it looked like the futures of both Friedgen and Franklin were in doubt, it was redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien — heavily recruited out of Kernersville, N.C. by the offensive coordinator — who stabilized the quarterback position and led the Terps to an improbable 8-4 season and trip to the Military Bowl against East Carolina on December 29. It likely saved the jobs of both men as new athletic director Kevin Anderson was settling into the job formerly held by Debbie Yow, who orchestrated the coach-in-waiting agreement nearly two years ago.

And here is where feelings begin to conflict regarding Franklin’s departure for the Commodores and the SEC.

That coach-in-waiting designation included a $1 million bonus for Franklin had he not been named head coach by Jan. 2, 2012. At the time, Yow viewed it as a necessary measure to insure the program would not lose its young figurehead of the future after an aging Friedgen would retire from his alma mater.

However, for a program struggling to sell tickets and operating on a shoestring budget in relation to its ACC counterparts, the agreement began looking more like a brick wall than an insurance policy as the Terps struggled through that disastrous 2009 campaign. As much as many fans don’t want to hear it, money was the biggest factor in the decision to retain both Friedgen and Franklin for the 2010 season.

Whether you’re an affluent program or not, $1 million is a lot of money to pay someone not to become your head coach, not to mention the two years of salary each coach was owed at the time.

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Fast-forward to the present, and the Terps appear to be in better shape on the field after a six-game turnaround and pending “trip” (the game’s being played in Washington, D.C., after all) to a bowl game. Maryland announced last month that Friedgen would return in 2011, and now the head coach seeks a contract extension beyond next year.

It’s a tough decision that looms for the new athletic director, the man left to deal with a precarious situation in his first few months in College Park. Anderson publicly expressed his disdain for coach-in-waiting agreements back in October, not an indictment of Franklin at the time but not exactly a ringing endorsement either.

The sheer fact that Franklin was willing to take the Vanderbilt job in the cutthroat nature of the SEC speaks volumes about where he thought he stood at Maryland in regards to his future as the potential head coach. If Franklin thought it was tough getting recruits to come to College Park, he’ll have a difficult time persuading top players to join a program that’s played in two bowl games in the last 36 years to get their brains beaten in by the college football royalty that exists in the SEC annually.

The writing was on the wall for the young coach. If the Terps would flourish again, Anderson would have little choice but to offer Friedgen some type of extension, leaving Franklin $1 million richer, but with no guarantee of a head job elsewhere.

If Maryland were to fall on hard times again, Franklin likely would have found himself unemployed (along with Friedgen) and no longer in a position to pursue a top gig, even with a fatter wallet.

Through it all, the new athletic director remains the wild card of Maryland football, with no one knowing exactly what Anderon has in mind for the future.

It was a gamble that Franklin, apparently, was not willing to take with the current opportunity to become a head coach elsewhere.

With the $1 million coach-in-waiting clause no longer a factor, Friedgen might now feel he’s in a better position to coach beyond the 2011 season, even though he no longer possesses his top recruiter and offensive coordinator. Or Anderson may view the veteran coach as the only obstacle blocking a fresh start for a program that’s fallen on hard times after a brief renaissance early in the Friedgen era, this year notwithstanding.

Franklin’s departure will certainly impact recruiting and the offensive product on the field, but it also creates the financial flexibility for Anderson to wipe the slate clean and start anew should he decide Friedgen is not his man beyond the 2011 season.

Whatever the case, its impact on the future of Maryland football cannot be argued.

Time will only tell whether it pays off for the parties involved.

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Friedgen returning for 11th season as Terps coach

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Luke Jones

In a season many thought would be his last in College Park, Ralph Friedgen has led the Terps to a surprising 7-3 record and the precipice of the Atlantic Division crown with wins in their final two games.

And that was good enough for new athletic director Kevin Anderson.

In a statement released by the University of Maryland Thursday, Anderson announced Friedgen would return for his 11th season as Terrapins coach in 2011.

“Based largely on the improved performance of our team and student-athletes this season, Coach Friedgen will be our head football coach next year,” Anderson said. “Once this season is complete, [Friedgen] and I will sit down to discuss the current state and future of the program. Right now, the team’s focus will be on winning the 2010 ACC Championship and a bowl game, which our coaching staff and student-athletes have put themselves in position to do. We hope our fans, students, and alums will come out and support us in the effort.”

The near $2 million owed to Friedgen in the final year of his contract played a major part in the decision, as the school has made no secret about the program’s financial programs with unsold suites in the recently-renovated Tyser Tower and poor attendance in recent seasons. His contract expires on Jan. 2, 2012, the same date current offensive coordinator James Franklin will become head coach or receive $1 million from the school.

The Terps became bowl-eligible in a 62-14 victory over Wake Forest on Oct. 30 and clinched a winning season with a 42-23 win at Virginia last Saturday. Maryland will advance to the ACC title game with wins over Florida State and N.C. State in their final two games of the regular season, both at Byrd Stadium.

“I’m excited about the direction of our program,” Friedgen said in a statement. “We have a great bunch of kids and a tremendous staff. I’m thankful for all the hard work they have put into this season. Right now, we’re just concentrating on Florida State.”

The Terps will host Florida State 8 p.m. Saturday night in a game televised regionally on ABC.

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