Ralph Friedgen — the ACC’s Coach of the Year in 2010 — coached his Maryland Terrapins to a 51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl yesterday. It was Friedgen’s last game as he’s being forced out after a decade at his alma mater. The Terps finished 9-4 this season.
We could write a good bit about the above paragraph. Fired at 9-4? At Maryland?
Instead, we’ll focus on what’s next in College Park. Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was reported to have been touring the Maryland campus Wednesday. He is expected to officially interview for the job today. His close relationship with the founder of Under Armour — who just happens to be Maryland’s biggest booster — has made Leach the presumed favorite for the UM job.
If Leach isn’t the guy in College Park, Gus Mazlahn might be. ComcastSportsNet Washington reported earlier this week that Auburn’s offensive coordinator has already spoken in some fashion with Maryland reps. Gene Chizik admitted the “possibility of contact” between the school and his aide.
But Leach and Malzahn might want to listen to Friedgen’s comments as he exited stage left yesterday. Like Tommy West at Memphis a year ago, Freidgen held little back.
“I can tell you this — it’s not an easy job. There’s a lot of things that really have to change to help it reach its potential. And, to be honest with you, I don’t know if the university is willing to do that. You’ve kind of got to know that going in. … What happens to a lot of coaches who come to Maryland, they think it’s like every other place, and after their third year they realize it isn’t, and they’re stuck.
“People are concerned about my legacy, and my legacy is what it is — 75-50. … I gave it the best I had for 10 years, and obviously that’s not good enough right now, and that’s what hurts. … I leave the job a lot better than when I got it, so if someone else can come in and do better, my hat’s off to them.”
Leach — with his off-the-wall style and his high-profile — probably could do better than Friedgen. Malzahn? I’m not buying that one. The man was coaching a high school team six years ago and no one knows about his ability to play CEO at a major university. He could be great, he could be a flop. Other top-notch coordinators have flopped. Bob Davie, anyone?
But the interesting thing is this: The two men most Vandy fans wanted for their job were Leach (wasn’t going to happen… ever) and Malzahn (almost happened). Instead, VU wound up grabbing Maryland’s old coach-in-waiting. But Maryland had no intention of keeping James Franklin or handing him the head coaching reins. Instead, Maryland apparently had its eyes on the two guys most Vandy fans wanted. And one of those two might grab the Maryland job only to learn that it’s got its own sizable share of problems, just like Vanderbilt… if Friedgen is to be believed.
Just an odd little roundabout.
(Oh, and that might be the longest headline we’ve ever written.)