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Just hire Leach ... and pray it's the right move

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In calling Ralph Friedgen’s ouster a “business decision”, first-year Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson made it clear that a coach’s win-loss record is no longer among the chief criteria for continued employment. Anderson needs a coach capable of bringing more fans to Byrd Stadium and selling those painfully empty luxury suites in Tyser Tower.

A coach who has proven he can win games and graduate players would be nice, too.

So why aren’t negotiations already underway to bring former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to College Park?

Anderson said at Monday’s news conference to announce the justification for Friedgen’s firing that a search committee would be formed and a consulting firm would be hired with hopes of having a new coach on campus by Jan. 4, the first day coaches are allowed to talk to recruits to shore up commitments before national signing day in early February.


Is this merely protocol – or a smokescreen - or does Anderson really believe he will find someone with a combination of more sizzle and substance than Leach?

Randy Edsall certainly has the track record, having built on the foundation Skip Holtz established at Connecticut by leading the Huskies to their first Big East championship and BCS bowl invitation. But if Edsall turned down Notre Dame, as he reportedly did a year ago, why would he accept an offer from Maryland? More importantly, does Edsall have the same national profile as Leach? Doubtful.

Beyond that, the list of potential candidates seems limited — and flawed.

Tyrone Willingham’s star faded years ago, before he left Notre Dame for a waiting disaster at Washington. Former Maryland assistant Mike Locksley, once a hot commodity as a top recruiter and offensive coordinator at Illinois, has gone 1-11 in successive seasons at New Mexico — along with off-field controversies involving punching an assistant and being accused of sexually harassment.

Leach has his critics for the way he handled Adam James — the son of ESPN analyst Craig James — after the reserve receiver sustained a concussion last season. Leach’s refusal to apologize resulted in him being fired after leading the Red Raiders to 10 straight winning seasons and national prominence with their fast-paced, high-scoring Air Raid offense.

And, oh yes, Leach graduated nearly 80 percent of his players.

Not every athletic director uses a search committee or consulting firm to help make the decision. Florida’s Jeremy Foley, one of the most respected ADs in the country, wooed Urban Meyer from Utah when Notre Dame also beckoned and then, when Meyer retired recently, took a chance on Will Muschamp, the coach-in-waiting and defensive coordinator at Texas.

So why Anderson’s need for using a consulting firm to identify candidates and a search committee to interview them?

Because this is the way it is done at Maryland.

A little history: in 1989, after men’s basketball coach Bob Wade was fired amid a mushrooming NCAA investigation, Gary Williams was the clear favorite. He was an alum with a history of turning around programs at American, Boston College and Ohio State. What should have taken a couple of hours took a couple of weeks, nearly giving Williams pause to stay in Columbus.

Why risk losing Leach? Worse yet, why make Danny O’Brien, the redshirt freshman quarterback who was recently honored as the ACC’s rookie of the year (the same night Friedgen was feted as ACC coach of the year), consider transferring? According to his coach and his mother, O’Brien was devastated by the departure of offensive coordinator of James Franklin to Vanderbilt and Friedgen’s firing.

Leach should be in College Park as soon as possible, giving O’Brien the first few pages of next year’s playbook and selling a dwindling fan base of buying season’s tickets — and suites.

Truth is, a search committee could muddle the process. A search committee is not going to be wowed by Leach’s “four vertical” formations but could be scared off by his confrontational style and quirky personality. There might be a reason that Leach didn’t get hired at UCLA or Washington or Miami the past few years.

Leach could be to Maryland what Rich Rodriguez has been at Michigan, a big name whose personality and offensive philosophy didn’t quite fit as well in Ann Arbor as it did in either Morgantown, W.Va. or Clemson, S.C. Leach has never coached in a major media market, one squeezed between two professional teams with passionate fans.

Or he could be what Leach was at Texas Tech when he replaced a respected coach named Spike Dykes a decade ago. Dykes, a Lubbock native, had a winning record (82-67-1) and took the Red Raiders to six bowls in 13 years. He beat Texas six times. But he didn’t have the sizzle or swagger of Leach.

“Mike Leach put Texas Tech on the map,” former Texas Tech quarterback Cody Hodges said over the weekend.

Despite an 8-4 record this season and seven bowl invitations in 10 years, Maryland hasn’t been noticed on college football’s landscape since Friedgen took the Terps to their only BCS game — a 56-23 demolition by Florida in the Orange Bowl — in his first year. Forget the search committee, the consulting firm and clear up the smokescreen.

Just hire Leach – and pray it’s the right move.

Comments

This “Good to Great” rhetoric is nauseating. What “Great” things has Anderson accomplished that makes him capable of recognizing the kind of coaching required to achieve greatness? As the O.C. of Georgia Tech, Ralph along with Bobby Ross won a national championship. I look forward to the day of Anderson’s dismissal and I hope those “Good to Great” words are thrown back in his face.

I have no problem if Mike Leach uses his brief (and it will be 3 years top) stay at Maryland for return to the Big Time...SEC or a Texas school.

As a 1977 Terp Alumni let me give you some more history. Jerry Claiborne took the Terps to 11-1 (lost to Houston in Cotton bowl) my senior year 1976.

He peaked and went on to Kentucky on good terms at UMCP.

Bobby Ross demanded they close the open end, never happened. He left town in the Len Bias disaster. Krivak was a great quarterback coach, but that was it. Duffner brought Holy Cross, Colagate, UMass small time ball to an expanding ACC. Vanderlain, from Northwestern got great recruits, but over coached. Didn;t motivate. Ralph motivated the kids...got them to reach potential. But he never could recruit the top QB he needed to win.

Ralph gave Integrity, Pride & Sportmanship to the school & football team.

Substance ? Yeah Leach has substance, why has no big name school gone after this guy ? I wouldn't send my kid to play for Leach and it's got nothing to do with the James incident. So just hire this guy and pray ? That's a great strategy and a successful one i'm sure. By the way how many ex Terps have quietly made it now into the NFL vs some higher profile schools. Fridge has put a lot of kids in position for the NFL and Mike Tice, who may be biased , took Shaun Hill in as an undrafted free agent because he said the Maryland kids learned the right way. And Hill, average talent wise, has had a very nice career for himself. So where does O'Brien stand to make it with Fridge teaching him ? I give Fridge a 2 yr extension with the understanding that will be the end and during that time court a high profile coach with some substance, the kind that people respect as a man and a coach.

I live in Texas and went to grad school at Texas Tech. The fans at Tech loved Leach. The AD who fired him is now retiring and is probably one of the most hated people in Lubbock. Craig James, who helped ruin a program at SMU is overprotective of his jerk of a son (hearsay on my part). The Terps need to grab Leach ASAP. He will fill the stands as he did at Tech. And he turns QBs into studs with his offense.

I think it is pre-mature to make comparisons between Kevin Anderson and Chancellor Slaughter from the Len Bias days. Some of the readers have claimed they are both acists. I don't think the evidence supports Slaughter being a racist, but the evidence clearly supports Slaughter being an idiot. He forced a highly successful, well-loved, and experienced winner in Lefty Driesel into retirement to bring in Bob Wade - who was completely incompetent

In addition, if Anderson was a racist, he would have eagerly handed the keys to Franklin, which he didn't - so I don't buy that argument either.

What I do see in Anderson is someone who is WAY over his head at understanding how to handle a complicated situation. Terp Nation LOVES the Fridge. He has been as loyal of a coach as one can find and he is one of us - a TERP. I do not necessarily disagree that it was a bad time to bring in new blood, especially with the "lame duck" status that Fridge would have been saddled with, but whoever advised Anderson how to deal with the situation needs to be shown the door. Perhaps he was the same guy who "counseled" LeBron James on how to mis-manage his "Decision"

I'm with Craig, can someone tell Mr. Anderson that finding every opportunity to work "good to great" into his public comments does not make him sound like a learned and accomplished senior manager.

First, "Good to Great" has been pretty much universally acknowledged by now as an easy-to-digest read with a severely flawed research methodology (sharing weaknesses with other "business success" studies).

Second, and most important, hearing him constantly spout "good to great" every chance he gets makes one wonder if he is like the kid in school that didn't quite get it, but wanted to act like he did. Spouting catch-words and empty MBA-speak incessantly is not a way to sound smart, it just makes you look like you're faking it.

So please, Mr. Anderson, let's put the "Good to Great" allusions away, add a few better books to your holiday reading list, and just present yourself as you are, intelligent or not.

Leach would probably be able to win 8 to 10 games at Maryland within his first two years there, but from that point on he'll be looking for his next job.

And a fact check on this story would be good. Leach wasn't fired by Texas Tech for refusing to apologize to Adam James. He was fired when he arrived at the courthouse to file an injunction against Texas Tech as he was attempting to block his suspension. That's the kind of insubordination Texas Tech dealt with for most of his 10-year tenure. He's not a team player. He's a self-promoter. Also, his winning percentage in conference was worse than Spike Dykes. He made his mark by signing up nonconference cupcakes and then beating them and Big 12 bottom-feeders.

Chad, do you remember the catch by Crabtree that beat the mighty UTA South Campus Longhorns? Bottom feeders? This year for sure. You sound like one of those UTA South Campus crybabies. I'll bet you are a Cowboy fan too.

Lock him up with a contract that is equally expensive for both sides to terminate. One of the issues at TT was he was always looking. It ticked off their AD -- he has learned his lesson bring him on fill the stadium and the air with footballs

I don't know the Craig's and don't care, but as a parent I want to kick his arse for what he did at Texas Tech. I would never send my son to go and play football for Mike Leach, where ever he was coaching.

chad/texas..you are dead wrong..tech was just looking
for a reason to get out of the contract..fired him the day before he was due $800,000..
coincidence?

MIke Leach's record on the road against Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State: 1-14.

Mike Leach's record in nonconference games: 37-10.

Mike Leach's record in nonconference games against ranked opponents: 2-5.

How many conference championships did Mike Leach win? Zero.

How many conference championship games did Mike Leach's teams reach? Zero.


Chad:

Leach filed an injunction because Tech trampled over his due process afforded to him by Tech's policy and procedures manual. Tech's policy states that the school must give a 10 day notice to the employee before a suspension can be effective. Leach was simply attempting to assert that his due process had been violated with and he had no other recourse to remedy the situation.

He was calling the Administration out for not following their own rules.


All I remeber about Texas Tech was, they use to put up guady numbers and get pasted by the good teams. If that is what you want, so be it. We will find ourselves right back where we are today. The "business" decision is to repay Leach for signing TT to underarmour in their early yeaars. Its as transpaarent as daylight.

I do not understand the comments that Leach would only stay at Maryland for a year or two. He was the Offensive Coordinater at Oklahoma...they won the National Championship...Tech offered him a head coaching position and he took it. He stayed at Tech for 10 years! He was one of the lowest paid HC in the Big 12 and he did what he had to do with a difficult Administration to get a decent contract(showing interest in other coaching opportunities). His firing was primarily over his contract and Tech's Administration who did not want to pay him (this is well documented by the Administration's internal memos that surfaced after his firing). Tech students love Mike Leach...he was the best thing that ever happened for tthe Tech football program

The ACC is the weakest BCS conference so stop acting like playing UVa, Duke etc is like playing UT, OU, OSU, Neb, Mizz. No, Leach is not an ass-kisser. Count the coaches with ten years and winning programs, sellouts, stadium expansion, national buzz and grad rates. Its a short list. I'm not sure Maryland has done enough to deserve Leach.

It's true that Leach didn't win any Big 12 championships, but to be fair he usually had to deal with the #1 team in the country just to win his own division. Most years he had to deal with 3-4 top 10 teams along the way. Considering Tech's resources, he did a phenomenal job achieving what he did. It would be very short sighted to ignore exactly how much he accomplished with what he had to work with. No one that preceded him has ever done what he did for that program. At Maryland, he would not be competing against the same level of competition and likely would be a regular in the BSC.

The headline says a lot: "pray it's the right move". If the criteria is to hire a publicity stunt and hope a fan base comes to watch a circus then our administration is worse than the new level some of us are thinking about the athletic dept. and university.

As a long time Tech fan,what Leach did for Texas Tech is simply amazing, he put Tech on the mapwith his offense and did more with less, his offenses were entertaining, he got a raw deal here from the Administration,many fans are still upset and and angry still. you would not be wrong in hiring him, good luck.

Why not hire Rich Rodriguez when he gets fired by Michigan? His track record is not that great in Michigan, but he's a better coach and recruiter than Mike Leach, don't you think?

Any of you who are upset by Fridge's dismissal and the potential hiring of Leach are idiots. Fridge had 10 years to build his program. After Vanderlinden's players graduated the program went steadily downhill. This year's 8-4 record is an illusion with an awful out of conference schedule and a very weak ACC. Leach built Texas Tech into a national top 20 program in the 2nd most difficult conference in the country behind the SEC. He did that in Lubbock Texas which is a dump. Look how they are fading after he left. Maryland needs someone to get in there bring excitement which the Fridge clearly did not bring. Attendance is way down, luxury boxes empty, mediocre team on good years, horrible in-state recruiting, why keep him? Leach does not need blue chip recruits to win with his system. Also, if the rumors are true that Under Armour is going to pump in some huge money into the program, then that is good thing. Look how Nike money propelled Oregon into national prominence. I don't understand how that is bad. Who cares if Anderson is not handling this thing perfectly. In two years everyone will be praising the Maryland athletic department for a great move. And the reason no one else jumped on him is because he was mired in legal proceedings with Texas Tech and ESPN. I love the fact that the guy has fought for his job and reputation. From all indications, the Adam James story does not add up.

If UM does not take Leach, then they deserve what they get. I have been a Tech student and fan since 1979. The 10 years with Leach were by far the most success and best football seen in Lubbock. You must remember that we do not get the 4 & 5 star recruits UT and OU get. It is a tough place to win, but Leach did it. He took average talent and over achieved. I have not ties to UM, but I would tell you that if Leach were coach they would be my second favorite team instantly, just slightly behind Tech.

I belive Leach to be a coach capable and smart enough to design schemes that would result in much larger point totals for the Terps (or most programs), but in College Park, what would that really mean? Perhaps a win or two per year and again, that will make a very small ripple in the pool.
It's important to remember that while Fridge was no saint, he relished his role as mentor to lots of these kids and did so with a personal touch and although that means little to Terp fans, it means the world to the players he helped to do more with thier lives. I have no idea if Leach thinks about stuff like that or not, but I doubt he's the one to 'put MD on the map.'
That was what Fridge was in the process of doing, despite the painstakingly plodding timeline, when he was fired after being coach of the year in a medium difficulty conference.
Anderson's a mouth, a figurehead for the boosters and if that's not very obviuos to you, you're not paying attention. Big time college sports is certainly about selling hype and season ticket plans, but the Terps athletic dept has totally ignored the on-field product and for those who root for the red-and-white, that product will worsen significantly before we start being bs'ed about the Josh Portises and Antwine Perezes of the world again. And when that circle comes around, the Terps will be 8-4 at best while winning a game they shouldn't and losing one or two they should win. Mike Leach or no Mike Leach
Guess what, that's exactly where they are and have been for decades now.

Mike Leach came to Texas Tech following the 1999 season, leaving Oklahoma before the Sooners won the national title in 2000. At the time, Texas Tech had been bowl eligible in 8 of 10 previous seasons, but Leach came to the school promising not to rebuild the program, but to elevate it to championships.

He didn't win the Big 12 and he didn't improve the school's profile enough to attract significantly better recruits than the program was already signing.

He threw the football a lot and got a lot of attention and won a few big games. But he had less success against the best teams in the conference than his predecessor. In fact, he had a lower winning percentage in conference games than his predecessor.

The idea that Texas Tech never won football games before Mike Leach is ridiculous and offensive.

And ultimately he could not have done more to get himself fired. He practically begged Texas Tech to fire him. He's a bad guy.

It's obvious that Chad from Texas is a Tech hater. Tech has the third best winning percentage in the Big 12 since the formation of the conference...behind only Oklahoma and Texas. Tech is the only conference school that has been bowl eligible every year since the formation of the conference. Not even Oklahoma, Texas or Nebraska can make that claim. Leach won with far inferior recruits...but he won! UM could do a lot worse in hiring a coach!

Best wishes for your Terrapin program whoever you hire and Coach Leach deserves to get a chance, there is no telling what he will be able to do there, Im sure he will be able to recruit better players there, we will always miss him in Raiderland. Merry Christmas.

Mike Leach has no baggage. The baggage belongs to the Fat Cats associated with Texas Tech whose arrogance drove them to fire the man who was getting all the credit. (Which he earned.) If you want an intelligent coach who does it all, hire Mike Leach. This is your chance.

"Chad from Texas" means "Texas," as in 5 wins and 7 losses this season. Here is some useful information: Approximately 6% of Texans are University of Texas fans. The rest despise University of Texas athletics. Thought you might want to know.

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