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Bashing the Fridge is bad form

By Don Markus

There is a transition period associated with any college coaching move, so the struggles that Randy Edsall and his Maryland team seem to be having on and off the field in College Park this season are not surprising.

What is a little disconcerting is the way Edsall has continually pointed a rather obvious finger at Ralph Friedgen for what Edsall inherited in January. It was almost a way to give himself an excuse if the Terps didn't win this year.

The low point came this week. Forget for a moment last week's embarrassing 38-7 blowout loss at home to Temple -- something, by the way, that never happened at Byrd Stadium to one of Friedgen's teams during his 10-year tenure.

Though careful to avoid mentioning his predecessor by name during his regular Tuesday news conference, Edsall took a verbal swipe at the Fridge with a few of the comments he made. It wasn't even thinly veiled; it was as transparent as you could be.  

Asked about the transition, Edsall said, "It's not what just happens on the football field. The process doesn't happen overnight because people don't just change overnight. It takes time, especially if young people aren't used to being held accountable."

This isn't the University of Miami that Edsall is talking about, or some other renegade program where players are selling football memorabilia for tattoos (Ohio State) or taking gifts from agents (North Carolina, Georgia, Miami, and probably dozens of other schools).

From what I know, having been around Friedgen's program during the decade he spent back at his alma mater, is that he cared about his players graduating and not acting like fools. He also cared about winning, and was the third winningest coach in Maryland history when he was fired after a 9-4 season in 2010.

I'm sure Edsall wasn't thrilled to find out the Terps had lost three scholarships this year after a slip academically toward the end of a 2-10 season two years ago caused Maryland to fall under the Mendoza Line of college sports -- the dreaded APR.

The loss of practice time because former interns and graduate assistants had broken the rules by watching practice certainly irked Edsall, too. But Edsall made it clear from the first time he met with his players and told them to remove their caps and do-rags inside the Gossett Team House that there was a new sheriff in town.  

I agree with a lot of the things Edsall has said and done, but the implication that Friedgen did not hold his players accountable for their actions is simply not true. In fact, it borders on character assassination of a good and decent man who poured a decade of his life into bringing a dead program back to life. 

Maybe benching six starters for part of a minor bowl game after breaking curfew is not as strong a message as the two-game suspensions Edsall handed starting wide receivers Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree for their late-night escapade at the 7-Eleven two weeks ago, but in both cases, the punishment probably fit the crime. (I am still trying to figure out what there is to do in Boise to cause players to miss curfew.)

I applauded Edsall's decision to sit out the two receivers, and it has certainly proved costly in Maryland's two defeats without them. I do think that Edsall is trying to change the culture in College Park, and only time will tell whether it is for the better.

But there's no reason to bash Friedgen as much as there's no reason -- yet -- to second-guess Kevin Anderson's decision to hire Edsall.

Would it be right for Friedgen or one of his supporters to suddenly come out and question why Edsall or new defensive coordinator Todd Bradford moved All-ACC safety Kenny Tate to linebacker, or what has happened to quarterback Danny O'Brien under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton?

Whatever good feeling was created with Maryland's opening-night victory over a Miami team playing without nine starters and its valiant fourth-quarter comeback against a West Virginia team that subsequently got blown out at home by LSU is now gone.

Edsall is not winning any new Maryland fans with the way his team played on the field last Saturday and might have lost a few old ones with some of the comments he made in the aftermath of the most embarrassing home loss in recent memory.


That's it, blame your predecessor!!!! Taking a page out of the Obama book of failure. It's Bush's fault.

We've seen and heard enough of his Clown. Put him back in the phone-booth

38-7 by Temple? People are already not showing up or leaving early at Byrd and somehow this is Fridge's faulte. It takes time to move any program in a new direction and that's understood but messing with the fridge is wrong. MD fans are the worse! In two years they'll be begging for fridge to come back to clean up the mess this guy made. MD is a low rate football school that only get's recruits that aren't highly thought of by big schools. Sorry terp fans but be happy your bball team is competitive and attend spend your time tailgating at lacrosse and soccer games because your football program is always going to be 2nd tier.

Not that you need my kudos, but your article is very poignant and an issue about which I, too, have been very puzzled. I entirely fail to see the benefit of ripping, directly or otherwise, Friedgen. As you properly noted, this was his alma mater and a program (and kids) that he cared very much about and spent 10 years reviving.

Yes, the APR hit was unfortunate and, yes, over-extending practices by 15 minutes/day, et al. should have been avoided. However, it appears that Edsall's criticisms are being made from a superior platform than was afforded Friedgen during his tenure. He is the immediate beneficiary of Anderson's stated commitment to academic progress issues with increased study resources that Friedgen did not apparently enjoy. Perhaps, a closer look should be paid to Yow's oversight, or lack thereof, in providing Friedgen's program with the necessary academic support that may have prevented those APR sanctions in the first place.

It is funny that folks who know nothing about the program makes such authoritative comments. There is no doubt that what Mr. Edsall says about the Terps discipline under Ralph is true. Just take a look at the graduation rates for those kids who used up their eligibility; for those kids who didn't make it beyond their freshman or sophomore years because of academic problems, etc. Also, take a very close look at the number of players that the Terps currently have in the NFL (second most in the ACC behind Miami), yet look at the results on the field over the past six years - not just last year. Mr. Edsall is correct - there was no discipline, support, etc. If you recall, Ralph always blamed the players for the losses....he never took responsibility. I am not saying that Mr. Edsall was the correct choice of coaches, because frankly, I would not have hired him. But, what he is doing is very important for the long-term success of the program.....with or with him as the head coach.

Agreed. It was certainly time for Ralph to go (and I didn't like that way he whined about the situation last December), but Edsall is definitely acting bush-league.

Excellent article- my sentiments exactly. As a proud Maryland alum I was disgusted with the way Friedgen was treated in December and I am thoroughly disgusted with the way Edsall is behaving now. While I didn't know much about the guy, he seemed like a decent enough person and I wasn't going to hold him responsible for Anderson's bumbling; I was willing to give Edsall a chance. But this kind of repetitive slander of a good coach and a good man, combined with a troubling "pass the buck" mentality, is the kind of low-character behavior you wouldn't expect from someone who is holding himself out as some kind of paragon of virtue and integrity.

Friedgen had this team at 9-3 last year when they were overwhelmingly underclassmen; winning a bowl game and building momentum to contend in the ACC this year. Anderson pulled the rug out from under all of that. Whatever fans are still supporting Edsall with the 1-2 start are surely considering ditching him after seeing such low-class behavior from our head coach.

Thank you Kevin Anderson and Coach Edsall. You've given me the last push I needed to look for a new football team to follow without any regrets.

And Mr. Markus, thank you for your honest and frank assessment of this situation. It is certainly called for.

Friedgen may have been a nice guy but he was a terrible recruiter. Do I have to name all the players he let get away. How about Ben Tate? Does that sound familiar?

I think it speaks to Edsall's credibility and character that he takes the academic actions of a few players from last season, and the season before, and tries to paint the ENTIRE team with that brush. Shame on him.

Edsall cannot take credit for the (1-0) position in the ACC Conference, only to then go and blame Friedgen for his own shortcomings (Specifically being the first ACC Coach to lose to any (yes ANY) MAC conference team.

The fact is that fans are already sick-and-tired of this guy.

Edsall seems to want to dissolve anyone from the team who even steps in front of "his excellency's" desired path for the organization.

It was Edsall who suspended two of Maryland's top receivers the last two weeks, it was Edsall who dismissed Justin Lewis (OL) from the team this off-season, it was Edsall who decided to alienate fans by ending the Terp Alley, it was Edsall who cancelled pre-game booster events and cancelled the welcoming atmosphere generated by having an alumnus as coach (Fridge) and Edsall stomping all over our team's color's by producing these terrible uniforms.

Clearly, Edsall is way in over his head, and the only option he has evidently is to pull some Bush league move like ripping Friedgen.

Friedgen's name stands in the Ring of Honor up on the Upper Deck of the stadium -- and will be there loooooong after the sad Edsall era has been swept under the carpet of Maryland's football history!

Ralph never blamed the players for loss. He consistantly said "we the coaches didnt do a very good job getting the players prepared" I do like Randy Edsell. He is the man for the future. I also still believe Ralphs leaving wasnt handled very well.

This article is what many of the old guard have already reflected is extremely bad form by edsall and it will be his can bet when he finishes 4-8 this year...many, including I will join with Plank to buy this jackal out. He not a Terp and never will be one...quite frankly he is a two faced ***. who has no right tor represent my university.

There were things that have surfaced since Ralph has left that is disturbing. One, the graduation rate which has cost Maryland several scholarships. It is apparent the Ralph's discipline had gone south. I don't think Edsell is bashing Ralph at all, but merely stating the truth.....and Edsell has brought his style to the program.....and there was a big difference. Ralph was not a good recruiter, although several of his players are in the NFL, But, so were players from different Terp Head Coaches. It just seemed that Ralph could not put this program on the upper level to compete with the elite teams in the ACC or on a national level

look at the way edsall left u conn for md. couldn't tell his players who he recruited that he was leaving face to face. i guess md told him if you're not here at a certain time the job goes to someone else. and to the person who compared edsall to obama..well i'm pretty sure the 3 trillion dollars the u s has spent in iraq wasn't obama's fault or the 5,000 body bags that have come back from the middle east isn't obama's fault and the thousands of soldiers who came back missing an arm, leg, eyesight or those mentally runied for life wasn't obama's fault or the banks with their mortgage schemes wasn't obama's fault.. kinda think that was during bush's administration wasn't it

On other hand I'm tired of those who talk about how much Fridge loved Md. After Yow left, Fridge bolted on a deal he had AGREED TO & threw Franklin under the bus, leaving his beloved MD in a lose/lose situation. Either Franklin his top recruiter is lost or he stays costing MD $1 mill. All so Fridge could coach a few more years. He also went public on a new contract, blindsiding the recently hired Anderson. So pls don't tell mw what a great man & alum Fridge was. As far as discipline why expect his team to have it when he couldn't even push himself away from the dinner table. His leaving was long overdue, team was just 2 games over 500 the past 7 yrs despite scheduling a couple patsies ea year, recruiting was horrible, academics even worse etc etc. Not sure if Edsall is any better but he deserves a decent trial period, he's now losing (as Fridge did) with Fridge's players. Fridge's best years were with VanderLinden's players.

I went to the Miami and Temple games and found it disconcerting that Edsall berated Cameron Chism for returning an INT for a TD. Also against Temple, I saw ZERO involvement with the players on the sideline in a sense to "rally the team" when things started to go downhill. It looked like the assistants did all of the talking to the players. The only time I saw Edsall go out of his way to talk to a player was when Hartsfield drew a 15 yard penalty. I think the program needs more of a "players coach" than the drill instructor from Full Metal Jacket.

i was not happy when ralph was let go. as a terp fan i hoped the move to edsall would work. from day one i've paid close attention to this guy and do not like what is becoming evident to the rest of you. look up characteristics of the narcissist. there he is, your new coach. very disturbing. what does it say about the person that did the hiring ?

Fair article,Don,but everybody needs to chill after reading it. Let's see if Randy redirects his future comments to reflect the team he has under HIS control instead of lamenting the spoils from the previous coaching staff.I,too, don't want to hear old excuses for losing div.1 football games at Md. I will give this coach ample time to upgrade the whole school program; in the meantime,I would like to see Ralph and Randy meet together,even in private, to help smooth the way for all the players to readjust to a new era.

Mike: sorry, I remember often Fridge taking blame. He did call out some players, but he often took blame.

agree- I was not a fan of the Edsall hiring back when it happened and less a fan now - MD took the easy way out hiring this guy instead of getting Leach - who cares if Leach left after 2-3 years? He would have brought excitement back to College Park, fans in the seats, made O'Brien a super-star, and even if he left he'd have left behind 2 or 3 stellar recruitring classes for the next coach.......nah....this Edsall guy is in over his head and it's starting to show.

very interesting article by a guy whose fingers never hit the keyboard for a decade while an AD was spending the department in to bankruptcy and making it very hard for two coaches to do thier jobs.

There is work to be done all over the athletic department in college park, including football. Maybe Ralph's prechant for negotiating in the press is why Mr. Markus is taking his back.


You guys are crazy. Fridge seemed to be a good man and good coach but we need someone who will change the culture of the team and take the program to a new level. Right now we are experiencing growing pains. I believe Edsall will see it through successfully but I don't know for certain. What I do know is that the old way of doing things only produced mediocrity.

Mike Leach should be the coach.

This is not the first time he has done it. He pulled the same crap over the Spring when trying to explain why so many players were leaving or ineligible.

Whether warranted or not, its uncalled for, and shows he holds others to a higher standard then he does himself.

First the Todman incident , now twice trying to pass blame to the previous coaching staff....not to mention his turning college park into a bad fashion show, and a mockery.... I have lost all respect for the man.... and I was one of his biggest supporters when he was hired.

As my buddy has said, if it looks like a Duffner and walks like a Duffner and it quacks like a Duffner - then folks we may have the second coming of Mark Duffner.
Edsall much like Duffner - really seems to be in over his head.

I will take being blown out at home by at top 5 LSU in which the score was 27-21 at one point versus being blown out by Temple and never once being in the game except for the opening kickoff.

Spend over a million to fire the ACC Coach of the Year then convene a President's Commission to review the athletic department's budget woes? Hmmmmm....

Focus on finding solutions rather than focus on finding fault!

I initially refused to reply to this article itself and to the "Fans" that posted their comments based upon the stupidity and irrational thought in which they proceeded to comment. But upon further though I feel it necessary to comment.
First off, to the dipwad that goes by the name of "James", Edsall is not the first coach to lose to 'any' MAC team. As a matter of fact he is not the first MD coach to lose to a MAC team. Vanderlinden lost to a Ohio U Bobcat team in his last year and Friedgen himself lost to a Northern Illinois team both of whom reside in the Mid American Conference.
For all of you numbskulled idiots that want to bring up last year's record deal with this: 8 of the 9 wins we had in our 9-4 season came against a FCS team, 2 3-9 teams, 3 7-6 teams and our bowl win came over a 6-6 team. Wow, real top notch classy wins there. Now onto the Fridge. I was a big fridge supporter and was for his whole tenure @ MD, but in the end it was his time to go created mostly by his doing. He clamored for Franklin to get the contract paying him the million and then decided when it was time to go he wanted to hold on for a few more years. MD got lucky that Franklin left for Vandy for had he not the mess would still be stinking around here. As it was Fridge was sent packing and rightfully so, in my opinion.
Those that say Edsall is blaming the Fridge unjustly are homers who drank the Fridge's coolaid and will never give up on the fat dude. Come on, many Terps fans that I have talked to all said the same thing about Ralphie. How can a man that has no self control and discipline to keep his weight anywhere near healthy go out and recruit kids and preach discipline to them in their living rooms. I guess that is why we have the kids we do. Right now you have a coach who has put together quality units everywhere he has been and needs time to do it once again whether you like it or not. I agree somewhat with what is being said about the blaming of the previous regime but for the most part it is the equivalent of being brought in to run a corporation that looks successful on the outside but when you finally get to sit down in the chair, you realize that someone has cooked the books.
Just like Gene Hackman's character in the movie 'Hoosiers' Edsall needs to be given a chance to rework this team and maybe, just maybe we will see a similar result.

Ralph is gone, get over it, the team last year beat one ranked team and only won 8 games in the regular season. The bowl game was against a weak ECU team. Ralph lost to Mid Tenn State, come one people, give it a rest. He took MD $$$$$$$, after his first season he used his success to leverage more money from the University. it is nice to see a coach on the sidelines who is in shape and may not die on the sidelines.

the guy said he grew up going to Terp games, and loved it, so then he went to Syracuse....please... fake if i ever saw one.

The Terps seemed to be "accountable" to Coach Edsall when they beat Florida State to open the season. It appears Randy was probably stung severely by the loss to Temple and overreacted with his offensive comment about Ralph.

Edsall could have simply said something like "We need to continue to hold the players accountable for their actions........"

Ralph is a fine man and had numerous accomplishments at his alma mater as HC. I think Randy should get a pass for trashing Ralph this time and he has probably learned just how many Terp supporters interpreted his unseemly comments trashing Ralph. I don't think Edsall will do that again. I believe he too is a good man and HC and will be a great success at UM.

Its also a bad reflection of the Terp program and alumni that some are already throwing both Edsall and the AD under the bus.

The irony here is that Edsall and Fridge seemed to work together successfully as Defense and Offense coordinators at Georgia Tech under George O'Leary.

MD was penalized with the loss of scholarships not for a low graduation rate, but rather for low APR - Academic Progress Rate. Few things to note here. I beleive that all seniors on the 2010 and 2009 teams graduated. That low APR is a reflection of the low academic performance of underclassman and the low performance of graduate students - players who had already graduated but were not doing well as post grads. Also what many people don't seem to realize is that Yow pulled most of the funding for academic support for the football team during Ralph's last years. Was Ralph supposed to tutor the players himself? AD Anderson has poured money back into the academic support program for football, lots of hires, new computers, etc.

I really have a problem with Edsall bashing Ralph and with his bashing the players. Everyone else is to blame. After the Temple loss, never once did he take any responsiblity. And I hate his demeanor on the sideline. Little interaction with the players unless it is to yell at them. At the West, I watched Edsall yell at Cameron Chisam and Dexter McDougle. He walked away, came back and yelled at them again, walked away, and came back a third time to yell some more. Seemed a little much to me - nothing positive about it. Not my idea of a good coach.

It pains me to see MD suffering under this guy. Don't envision anything good for the future.

I loved Ralph, was thrilled when I heard he was coming to Maryland, especially after all the losers who had been there before him(more recently), but when they fired Ralph I lost interest in Terps football. They lost a true fan.

What kind of football player would want to go to College Park period, Fridge, Edsall or the Man in the Moon as Coach?

Do you think that PSU recruits go to State College because their Coach is a fossil or because of the "tradition"?

Applause for Mr. Markus. Fridge never blamed his players for a loss, as Edsall did after the Temple loss by complaining that the players weren't listening to him (and whose fault is that, coach?). Edsall blaming Fridge, who left a winning program, is ridiculous and shows Edsall's poor character and insecurity. The sooner that Edsall and Anderson leave town, the better. And I'm a Terrapin Club member and season ticket holder (for now).

Wait a minute Don, I don't think you're being entirely fair in how you are characterizing Edsall's comments.

Immediately after the Temple game Edsall made a fairly obtuse comment about putting his imprint on the program when he said, "This is a process we’re in. It’s a process. It wasn’t going to get changed overnight."

And that was it.

Then, the Sun's Jeff Barker and a reporter from the Post both indicated that they were going to probe to have the coach explain his meaning in more detail.

Yes, he said what he said in his explanation, but the media steered the conversation down this path.

Furthermore, what's wrong with Edsall saying that he wants things done his way? It's not as if Ralph's record was clean, including NCAA violations that Edsall inherited.

Bottom line, Edsall did not go out of his way to blame the loss on Friedgen, but the media sure went out of its way to make it sound like he did.

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