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Explain to me why Ralph Friedgen should get another shot?

When we opened this dive almost two years ago, I billed it as a place where we could argue sports -- all types of sports -- while I mixed pithy banter with watered-down drinks.

For the most part, I’ve kept my word. The banter has been extraordinary and you can’t get a whiskey sour that tastes more like tainted ocean spray in any other place on the Eastern Seaboard. I am strangely proud of that.

We certainly have done our share of arguing (here’s hoping Putin is back for good to keep that going), and almost always in a civil manner.

But if I have pulled a Steve Slaton and dropped the ball in the past two years, it’s in that “all sports,” category. We do baseball and football with aplomb, and we get to horse racing and college basketball when necessary.

Unfortunately, we rarely discuss college football except at BCS time. That’s a shame, because I love college football. For years, I wrote columns for another newspaper about Penn State football. I still keep an eye on the Nittany Lions, partially because my in-laws are obsessed and I like to stay in good standing with them (the in-laws, not the Nits).

And although I do my best as a sports journalist to keep my rooting interests quiet, I have also admitted in the past (this is where Rob K. spits on the bar) that I am tied both by heritage and family tradition to a certain unnamed and overrated football program that recently fired its overweight head coach. Yeah, them.

That brings us to another portly football coach, Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen, who will continue as the top football Terp next year, his 10th season.

Here’s my question: How does that happen?

Fridge seems like a good coach and a solid guy. His team was riddled by injuries this year, so maybe he deserves a little break. But the Terps went 2-10 in 2009. They have had losing seasons in four of the past six years. In the ho-hum ACC.

That’s not good enough. Sorry. But it’s not. At Maryland, or at any pseudo-big-time Division I program.

Yes, I am the same guy that defended Dave Trembley after another disastrous Orioles season. But the difference is that Trembley doesn’t go out and get the players. He gets stuck with them. And he was stuck with an inferior group in nearly every aspect.

The Terps squad that went 2-10 this year was recruited and assembled by Friedgen. If it stumbled due to injuries, than that is his fault for not mining better depth. Put it this way: Friedgen gets $2 million a year to win football games – more than quadrupling what Trembley receives for managing the Orioles. And Friedgen hasn’t done it with a flourish since that amazing run in 2001.

Again, I don’t want to ever see someone lose their job. But I just don’t see how Friedgen, after the first 10-loss season in Maryland’s history, kept his.

Illuminate me, oh football fans of Maryland. I know you are out there.

Daily Think Special: Explain to me why Ralph Friedgen deserves a shot in 2010?


Why he deserves a shot: Because to buy him out would cost $4 million, or $5 million if you can the entire staff. And in a year of layoffs and furloughs, that would be unconscionable.

In the end, Yow deserves the blame for setting up the contracts that way, and that's a decision for another day. Frankly, it should cost her her job.

But why give him another year? Economics, plain and simple.

Debbie Yow did the right by bringing Ralph back for another season. This team was basically freshmen and sophmores. Very young team. Jamarr Robinson will be the QB for next season. Ralph can be more creative with his skills. The offensive line will have another year of experience. Recruiting needs to improve. Maryland has the resources to bring in recruits. There's got to be plenty of talent in the state of Maryland. Maryland has to be aggressive and take players away from Penn State, Virginia Tech, Florida State.

Oddly enough, he makes too much money to fire. Kind of like being too big to fail. The state is not going to swallow his contract for doing a bad job, and then reward him for not working at all by terminating him and paying him out - THEN pay a new coach on top of that, just to keep a football team int he middle of thepack and bunch of wealthy alumni happy. He's sticking around until the deal (or the Recession) is up. It's Yow who should go.

Sorry above posters but what you have essentially is a lame duck coach on his way out; a stadium that is one-third empty; losing seasons in four of the last six years and you guys are concerned about spending $5 million to flush out this mess??? Do the math: what are these empty seats costing us year and after?? Besides the dollars cost, there is simply no rationale for bringing this guy back unless Yow could not a find a suitable replacement . That is unless you don't consider Franklin suitable?? Perhaps the Alumni wake up next year when it will only cost us $3 million to pull the flush...

It would cost $ 4 million to get him to go away.

There's no one available right now who is demonstrably a marked improvement.

Explain to me how losing 33 starters to graduation and additional injuries is a coaching issue.

It was a frustrating season. Maryland doesn't have the tradition or history of wining to naturally attract recruits like say an Oklahoma. There's also tremendous competition from surrounding schools.

Unless there's a miraculous breakout season, no coach will ever change the status quo.

Well,Dan,there's the garanteed money part of it and then there's a little loyalty by Debbie Yow and some boosters.Throw in some sympathy about all the injuries and add that he still shows a winning record and wah-lah! Sprinkle some young talent and add a touch of," are we ready for Franklin,yet?" and we have a Fridge bowl for one more year.Next year,Dan,he has to report some new answers as to why his team might be losing,IF that starts to happen again.I think he can have some fun with this team when he adds some new wrinkles into his offensive playbook,but,look- guys like me,an avid Md. fan;if we start looking like Div.1aaa again,look out for the tomahawk and I'm not talking a Fla.St. thing here.I can't bear to see our proud program relegated to the bottom of the ACC without cleaning house next time.I don't think the program will fall this low next year so I'm not too worried about playing below Duke in the near future.However,Ralph does'nt like losing and he wants to go out a winner so I'm going to gamble that the man has one more ace up his sleeve to play and that's having faith in his abilities,my man Dan.

Dan I agree the Terps are lacking in talent and Ralph and his staff are to blame for the inability to bring top talent to MD and yes he is resposible for the lack of depth especially on the OL and DL's. However, I disagree that Ralph should be fired, as it is not only economically feasible (5million + the cost of hiring a new coach say 1 to 3 million). By the way, who in reality could MD draw as a coach. Have you taken a look at the last 3 or 4 hires prior to Ralph, do you recogonize any big names. MD needs a big time name to attract big time recruits, especially those in state. If I'm a big time recruit, I'm going to FL, Penn St, or some other big tiime program. Until Md makes this committment, it will be hard to compete in the ACC yet alone go to the BCS.

I know Steve doesn't want to hear it, but I think WBF nailed it. Yes, next year it will be easier to pull the trigger than this. Not to mention that I don't think anyone believes that the team will have near as bad a record next year. They can't possibly do that two years in a row, can they??

But if there is no bowl game, then there is probably no Ralph (or Franklin) in 2011. Minor bowl game in 2010, and he probably gets to finish his contract. The CIW deal with Franklin is the one that really looks bad at the present time.

But to the original question - the reasons Fridge gets another chance next year are: 1) the cost to get rid of him when budgets are already strained (no, they are not going to lose $5MM next year if they don't replace him so the economics favor keeping him; there aren't that many deep pocket alumni around to shell out the cash to pay him off); and 2) the fact that even with the crap record this year and the stretch of mediocrity over the past six he's still been way better than anything that happened with the program between the time Bobby Ross left and he arrived.

P.S. What's with the new verification system? One letter wasn't good enough, now we have to type two whole words? Is this a spam filter or a sobriety test? I am officially registering a protest on this new "captcha" system.

The economy and stability are the only reasons he should stay. Other than that, there is nothing.

Let me get this straight. Yow fires Friedgen now, it costs the University $4 million for him. Yow keeps Friedgen and pays him $2 million to coach another year, then fires him next year at a cost of an additional $3 million. And the reason to keep him is the money it will cost? What am I missing here?

Last year he had a team full of seniors and had trouble winning. this year, he has a team full of underclassman, so they are too young. excuses, excuses.

I like fridge, but the truth is, it is the money. 5 milliom smackos in a down economy. but i am intrigued about his comment of changing things up on the offense next year with a true option quarterback. very intrigued indeed. . . .

The turn around question is "How do you maintain your position when all you do i sspew dribble?". Having more than 3 grey cells may help you to be able to perform your task with a moderate level of intelligence.

Yeah, I was real sorry to see Charlie get canned (NOT).

Gotta comment on the above posts...first, I agree with WildBill. The economic situation actually helped RF stay on the job. Buying him out and Franklin would have went over about as well as a Steelers fan in this bar! I think what you'll see next year is 1) Yow retires and 2) Fridge either pulls a rabbit out of his hat, wins 9 games and vindicates himself or he also bows out after another tough year. I go for the latter.

I also couldn't disagree more with Scott. UMD does NOT have the resources to bring in recruits. Can't compete with the resources at VT, UNC, NCSU, GT, Clemson, FSU, UM....I'd rank UMD's football resources around 8th/9th in the ACC.

I've always said people need to have realistic expectations for UMD football. College football's pwer base is the South with Texas and some Mid-west Plains sprinkled in too. HS football in Maryland is weak compared to other states. They should do a better job of keeping in state talent here, something Vanderlinden did that paid off very well for Ralph. Vandy roped in EJ Henderson, Steve Suter, Tony Jackson, Dom Foxworth (recruited initially by Vandy and Fridge)etc., that helped Ralph pull off the stellar first three seasons of his tenure.

Let it ride one more year....I think it will play itself out this time next year.

He led this team to six bowls in nine years. Before 2001, the Terps had been to exactly one bowl in eleven years. His lifetime record is 66-46, and is 4-2 in bowl games. He has sent numerous players to the NFL (multiple 1st rounders, as well). The only ACC championship in 16 years. The only victory against Florida State.

Let’s talk about Ralph and recruiting. Maryland, unfortunately, is a tough state to recruit in if you want to keep top players at home. Most college football players stay relatively close to home. Say within 300 or 400 miles. So if you’re a star football player in Alabama, Florida, Texas, California, or about 35 other states (including Virginia) the chances you play college football at an in-state school where you also played football are high. But Maryland (and New Jersey and other northeast states) has geographic limitations because of small size. Yes, Maryland high schoolers go to Penn State or Virginia or someplace else. Those schools are less than 300 miles away. On the other hand, Maryland does recruit well in New Jersey and Delaware (and Pennsylvania and West Virginia to some extent). But the intense loyalty that some players have to state schools isn’t there for Maryland high school footballers. A big reason why is that Maryland does not have an in-state rival (in fact no archrival at all) to generate loyalty. No archrival because it’s such a small state. Navy doesn’t count because it’s a service academy (although Maryland opens with Navy in Baltimore next year). So don’t compare recruiting at Maryland to recruiting in Florida or Texas (where high school football is at another level anyway), and players are more likely to stay at home. It’s a different ballgame (tired metaphor), and Maryland needs a strategy that goes across state lines. This in not to say the Terps have it mastered. But they have to play with a set of cards that is missing a couple of aces (slightly better metaphor).

Why do you bring him back? Because had a forum like this existed when the past 3 guys were fired, NO ONE other than a small group of boosters and alumni would have even cared. Selective memories aside, Ralph made Maryland Football relevant again- to the point where we will even argue about whether or not to keep him. A taste of success makes fans clamor for more- and Ralph teased us with that in the beginning; to the point that mediocre bowl games with 6-6 seasons won't suffice.

That said, the recruiting has been sub-par- no excuse for the lack of depth on the O-Line, and no excuse for having 10 WR of essentially equal ability, with no depth in the secondary. Why wasn't anyone swithed to DB other than Kenny Tate? James Franklin's perfomrnace has been questionable at best as well, and his playcalling was directly responsible for no less than 2 losses, VA, and FSU specifically. Will accontability be placed on his shoulders going forward? A 1M dollar loss is a lot easier than 5M after next season.

I can think of 5 million reasons why he gets to keep his job. Since the economy is in shambles and the athletic programs have been making slight budget cuts, they don't have the $4 million+ to get rid of Ralph and his assistants, and they don't have the $1 million to deal with the situation of his successor who takes over in 2012, and they don't have enough money or cache to attract a new coach. UMD is a state supported school, if I'm remembering correctly, so if Yow were to fire him, that $4 million+ is essentially coming out of our tax paying pockets. Additionally, how is the state supposed to explain firing Ralph and hiring someone new to the rest of it's employees when they've already had to suffer furloughs, no raises this year, reduced benefits, etc.? The only way to really procede here is to keep Ralph in place and pay him to be the coach, regardless of his team's performance, until the state's economic situation improves.

Additionally, UMD and the ACC are not traditionally football schools; they are a basketball conference. Outside of the new ACC schools (Miami, FSU, BC, and VT) how many ACC schools are constantly attracting blue chip players that go on to the NFL? Not that many. Those players tend to go to the schools in Florida, Texas, California, and the midwest. So Maryland has to fight that stigma. Then, UMD also has to decide whether it's going to be a school known more for it's athletic programs or it's academics. That's been a constant struggle for years now, and you see the effects of that struggle showing up on the court and on the playing field.

Right on the man Dan!

Here is another take on the Coach-why did he start so many Seniors in 2008 and so many Freshman in 2009? What was Fridge doing in 2006-2007, yup struggling from the loss of talented assistants that leads me to believe were encouraged to leave because of fridge's HUGE contract in 2005-bloated payroll for the future and that same problem has reared its head right now so he avoids getting fired.

Give Franklin credit, he recruited a lot of these starters and he is no dummy to ask for that money fridge is a trickster, got to love that somber guy, these are great kids, I love my job, sniff, sniff, blowhard media job he does every year.

My suspicions are fridge would like nothing better than to use Franklins recruits to look good again and get another extension-did he not mention this last summer?

Yow is getting schooled-no doubt.

Along with the $5 million is the additional cost of bringing on a new coach and a new staff which will bring the total cost to over $12 million easily. The switching of the staffs would lead to recruits who committed re-opening the process and others who are looking at Maryland to have to talk with new coaches after getting to know the current ones. Over the next 2 years Ralph presents Maryland with the best chance to win. After that who knows.

Dan, You wrote: "We certainly have done our share of arguing...almost always in a civil manner."

Have you ever wondered why it's been so civil? There's a simple explanation: your watered-down drinks. So you should be "strangely proud," as your penny-pinching bar policy has contributed to keeping the proper decorum around here. LOL

As for Fridge, it isn't just the injuries. He already had lack of depth going into the season with many key starters not returning from a year ago (Heyward-Bey and two other go-two receivers, only three from the O-line with the other spots being filled by underclassmen and four linemen attempting to learn new positions, and only four total on defense) and that situation was seriouly exacerbated by continuous key injuries on both sides ofthe ball throughout the season, including Scott and Carroll.

And that, I submit, is much too much to expect any team to recover from, much less one that inexperienced starters to begin with. A few injuries and maybe they could have soldiered on, but at some point the Terps were just overwhelmed with it.

If you only look at the past six seasons, Dan, I think you're trying to view the world through the bottom of a shot glass, so to speak, because you aren't looking at Ralph's body of work in his nine years at Maryland. That includes a 66-46 record (ACC--38-34), one ACC title, six bowl appearances (4-2 record), one appearance in a BCS game, a scandal-free program with a high rate of graduating players and a revitalized program that enabled the school to put $50M+ into improvements at Byrd Stadium, something that wouldn't have happened had it not been for Fridge's early success.

Granted, in his first three years he was the beneficiary of some excellent players recruited by his predecessor, Ron Vanderlinden, but he still had to coach those players.

When everything is factored together I think he's earned a mulligan. This is the only really bad year the Terps have had under him. Yes, he's had three other losing seasons, but in one of them the Terps actually went 6-6 during the regular season, only to lose in a bowl game (BTW, I think bowl appearances should be limited to teams with winning records) and in the other two, they finished 5-6, which just as easily could have been 6-5 with a few breaks along the way. Not good, but not unspeakably bad like this season.

The Terps have some good talent coming back, along with promising recruits, so they should do much better next year (can't get much worse).

Still, I think the decision to retain Ralph has as much to do with the economics of it as anything. Could UM justify throwing away that kind of money, then turning around and spending that much or more to bring in a new head coach? The answer was a resounding no.

I don't see Friedgen leading the Terps to another ACC title or Top 25 finish, much less leading them into college football's promised land. But if he can get the team back on its feet again, get them back playing winning football again, I think he's worth having around in a caretaker's role until Debbie Yow can find a suitable replacement.

As for the firing of Charlie Weis I have only one word: Insanity. Notre Dame is flushing a lot of money down the toilet and had no assurance that they his replacement does any better.

Weis was starting to mold an identity for the offense. Near the end of the season it looked to be coming together for them. The defense is what really killed the Irish this year and that's more on the defensive coordinator than Weis, who was a convenient scapegoat.

Ah, but all is not amiss in the ranks of college head coaches: Joe Paterno still works his magic at Penn State!

Unsure why everyone assumes it
cost $5 mill to unload Ralph??
The $5 mill is sunk-money, it costs that whether he stayed or left! The cost is really the amount we'd pay a new coach the next 3 yrs and I don't believe hiring a young, assistant from a top school would cost all that much. What does an assistant make, perhaps 150K a year?? A 3-year million dollar offer & the chance to be a head coach would do it I suspect.

Dan, The above post that begins:

'Dan, You wrote: "We certainly have done our share..."' came from me. It's marked "Anonymous" only because I forgot to enter my Name/Email Address. Sorry for the confusion.

He's to fat and always has been. It's a disgrace watching him on the sidelines. Same with the ousted Notre Dame dude. Weeb Ewbank, Madden, and other extra stout coaches carried themselves and thier excess far better.

No more Fridge.
No more Trembley.
No more Cameron.
And if he does not watch out, no more Harbaugh.
Remember Gruden, Holmgren,Cowher and Shanahan?

I never liked the “can’t recruit in MD” argument. If Boise State can build a competitive program, why can’t Maryland? What UMD needs is a guy that can recruit. Dave Wannstedt proved he couldn’t coach in the pros but he’s been able to bring recruits to Pittsburgh and they have a competitive program again. Keep Ralph Friedgen until you can get a guy that can recruit. A good choice would be Brian Billick, who could bring Ray Lewis after he retires from the NFL. Think of the recruiting potential!

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