On Saturday afternoon, the University of Maryland informed Coach Ralph Friedgen that he will not be returning for the 2011 season. Friedgen will likely accept a buyout from Maryland, instead of retiring.
This decision by first-year AD Kevin Anderson is simply mind boggling. The choice to cut ties with Friedgen would have made much more sense after last year’s embarrassing 2-10 season. But, what could have possibly given Anderson the idea to decide that Friedgen would not return after a successful 8-4 regular season and an appearance in the Military Bowl on December 29th. It has been reported that Maryland has asked Friedgen to coach the team in the Military Bowl, but he has yet to make a decision.
Fans of the Maryland Terrapins should be extremely angered by Anderson’s decision, especially since the Maryland football team has plenty of upside. With six more wins this season than last season, it seemed that Friedgen had the Terps on track to become a prominent team in the ACC and even the country. Quarterback Danny O’Brien is one of the most underrated young players in the country and running back Davin Megget seems to be a solid replacement for senior running back Da’Rel Scott.
When Maryland hires a new coach in the near future, much of the promising upside on the team may have to take a step back. One name that has constantly come up in the Terp’s search is former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Leach serves as a big name coach that has already experienced much success in his career. However, Leach raises some cautions for Maryland.
First, Leach was fired by Texas tech for locking receiver Adam James in a dark closet after he was diagnosed with a concussion. He is also known as a coach that runs a wide open, pass attack offense. Although quarterback Danny O’Brien is a solid quarterback, Leach may have to add more run plays to his playbook if he wants to coach at Maryland.
Although Leach has several downsides, he can also serve as a solid coach for Maryland. One major problem that may have lead to Friedgen’s exit is the fact that the Terps have not been able to sell tickets, even to the biggest of games. The suites at Byrd Stadium have not been completely sold and Maryland did not sell out one game this year. Even in the “blackout” game against Florida State in November, the Terps were still unable to fill a stadium that only holds 54,000.
With the addition of a big name coach such as Leach, Maryland may draw more attention and could possibly draw bigger crowds if the team continues the success that it experienced this season. However, a coach cannot completely solve an attendance problem, so we will have to wait and see if Byrd Stadium can reach its full capacity in the near future.
Overall, the move by AD Kevin Anderson comes at a surprising time, given that the Terps square off against East Carolina in just 11 days. However, this will set up for an exctiting matchup on December 29th, as freidgen has been a prominent figure in the Baltimore area and his departure will be recognized by the whole state of Maryland.
Whoever Maryland hires as its new coach, Ralph Friedgen, aka “The Fridge,” will remain a well-known figure in Maryland. As a Maryland alum, Friedgen will end his career as one of Maryland’s most successful and exciting coaches.