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Writer: Don’t Buy The Freidgen To UGA Rumors

Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph advises Georgia fans this morning not to put too much stock in rumors that former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen might become the Dawgs’ next offensive line coach. 

“The former head coach at Maryland has been linked to Georgia’s offensive line job based on the fact that a) he was spotted in Athens recently, b) he has a house about an hour away near Lake Oconee, and c) people need something to talk about.

I spoke to someone on Thursday who I’m pretty sure would know if something was up, and they didn’t give it any credence.”

Freidgen was the ACC Coach of the Year last year before being ousted — due to a lack of fan support — in College Park.  He made $2,036,306 in salary.

The chances of Friedgen stepping all the way down to a position coach’s role are very, very small indeed.

But that hasn’t stopped sites like from tweeting:

“We’re told Ralph Friedgen is in good position to land the OL job at UGA.  He’s one of 3 candidates.”

With talk like that floating around cyberspace, Mark Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald tracked down Friedgen’s agent for a comment. 

“I don’t think there’s any truth to that (rumor),” Jack Reale told him.

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Malzahn Didn’t Jump For Vandy… Would He Jump For Maryland?

Auburn’s Gene Chizik said last night — less than two weeks before the BCS Championship Game — that it’s possible Maryland officials will make a run at offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

“To the best of my knowledge, there are possibilities of contact.  I have not talked to anybody personally, but there are possibilities of contact in there.  I can’t give any details because I don’t have any.”

Malzahn was scheduled to meet with the press yesterday, but chose not to.

When James Franklin was allowed to leave (for the Vandy job Malzahn turned down) and Ralph Friedgen was forced out, it was believed that Maryland was locked in to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.  But according to ComcastSportsNet Washington, Leach might not be the frontrunner.

Maryland officials — according to the network — have already interviewed SMU’s June Jones and Malzahn in addition to Leach.  I guess an already conducted interview would indeed constitute “possibilities of contact.” 

Jones has publicly pulled himself out of the running for the Maryland job.

Malzahn was given a $1.3 million per salary just two weeks ago when he elected to stay at Auburn and turn down Vanderbilt.

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Maryland Forces Out Friedgen, But Not Over Franklin

When Vanderbilt officials made a dash toward Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin last week, we wondered if Terrapin officials would force out Ralph Friedgen and try to keep their coach-in-waiting. 

Not quite.

Maryland is trying to force Friedgen out following an 8-4 season… and a lot of empty seats in College Park.  (As of this morning, The Baltimore Sun reports that the coach is refusing to retire.)  But his attempted ouster is apparently tied to Mike Leach, not Franklin. 

According to numerous reports, Maryland officials did not make any type of counter-offer to keep Franklin.

As the story goes, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank — Maryland’s top booster — has close ties to Leach, the former Texas Tech coach.  But Leach’s agent said this weekend that there’s been no contact between the school and his client.

Either way, it’s clear that Maryland didn’t fight very hard to keep its coach-in-waiting.  Instead, they might have their eyes on Leach, a coach who numerous Vanderbilt fans would have loved to see in black and gold.  Now that doesn’t mean Franklin can’t be successful at Vandy.  Perhaps the Terps’ previous AD — who put the coach-in-waiting deal in place — is a better judge of coaches than Maryland’s current AD. 

But you can bet Vandy fans have taken notice of the fact Franklin’s last school had no problems letting him walk.

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Report: Franklin Expected To Be Vandy’s Man

That didn’t take long.

According to The Washington Post, Maryland offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting James Franklin “is expected to become the next head football coach at Vanderbilt,” according to two sources close to the coach.

The Post reports that contract details are being worked out today and Franklin could be introduced at Vandy in the next 24 hours.

There is no word on whether or not Maryland will make a last-minute try to keep Franklin.  He was originally scheduled to take over the Terps’ program by January of 2012, but current coach Ralph Friedgen now wants to coach past that date.

Attendance and fan support have dropped in College Park in recent years and it’s possible that Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson still might force Friedgen out in order to keep Franklin.  However, how excited would the Terrapin fanbase be to simply promote one of Friedgen’s aides?

If you want an idea of the “this was the guy we wanted all along” spin that’s sure to come out of Nashville, here’s some bio information on Franklin from the time he was announced as Maryland’s coach-in-waiting.  It’s a solid resume.

Look, the guy may turn out to be the next Nick Saban.  And Vandy fans can rightly say — if David Williams can close this deal — that they stole Maryland’s next head coach.  That’s a good thing.  But truth be told this is exactly the type of hire most people expected VU to make when Robbie Caldwell was forced out nearly a month ago: An up-and-coming assistant with very little name recognition.

If Franklin’s the guy, is there any reason to believe he is a better hire than Bobby Johnson was?  He may be.  But is there any reason to suspect that?

And while Al Golden or Troy Calhoun or Gus Malzahn would have garnered “SportsCenter” coverage for the Commodores, will Franklin’s hire get much more than a blurb-type of mention?  Here’s guessing more attention is paid to Malzahn’s turn-down than Franklin’s hire.  Sadly, that’s not the kind of press Vandy officials wanted — or deserved — in opening up their checkbook and aiming for some big name guys.

So here’s hoping VU can ink Franklin and that he does well in Nashville.

(But to those of you who chose to get ugly and angry when we told you things would go in this direction… uh… we told you so.)

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Vandy Search Nearing Its Conclusion… Maybe

A tip of the hat to Vanderbilt’s David Williams.  Vandy’s vice chancellor might not have “athletic director” in his title, but he can toss out the smokescreens as well as any AD in the country.

That or he’s flailing aimlessly to find someone to take the Vanderbilt job. 

See, we never really know what’s true and what isn’t until after these processes plays out.  Example: In late 2008, the Tennessee job was open and everyone from Bill Cowher to Butch Davis was supposedly “interested” in the Vols’ job.  Turns out, UT’s AD had his eye on Lane Kiffin all along.  But smokescreens weren’t involved earlier this year.  Tennessee officials really did talk to half a dozen candidates before finally finding one — Derek Dooley — who would take their job.

Sometimes there are smokescreens.  Sometimes there are just no takers.

For now, we’ll give Vandy and Williams the benefit of the doubt.  For one, folks covering the search can’t even decide if VU is close to making a hire or not.  And that’s a pretty good smokescreen.

We’ve spoken with two sources in Nashville in the last two days and each told us with great certainty the top two names on VU’s list.  Unfortunately, their lists included four completely different names. is reporting this morning that “a source” tells them “that Vanderbilt will make a decision today.”

Ah, but The Tennessean is reporting this morning that Vanderbilt might slow its search down and wait to speak with Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo.  He won’t speak to anyone until after Saturday’s Army-Navy game.  (Niumatalolo would be a good “get” for VU, but certain people here at MrSEC would not look look forward to typing his name on a regular basis.)

Jeff Lockridge also reports:

* Kyle Whittingham of Utah had little interest in the job.  (The man might be on Florida’s short list for gosh sakes.)  Williams strongly denied reports that Vandy actually made Whittingham an offer.  “I can tell you no offer has been given to anybody as of (Wednesday).”

Sidenote — The above report states that Vandy’s advances toward Jim Harbaugh and Al Golden have also been rebuffed.

* Wisconsin defensive coordinator Paul Chryst has interviewed.

* There is communication between VU and Gus Malzahn but “minimal headway” has been made on that front.

* Williams acknowledged that Florida’s opening could have a trickle-down effect on Vandy.  “Are Vanderbilt and Florida looking at the same people for head coach?  Probably not.  But whoever they go after, that may have an impact on who becomes a coordinator or what a coordinator does somewhere else.”

Finally, The Washington Post reported last evening that Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin — also the Terps’ coach-in-waiting — and Stanford offensive coordinator Greg Roman are the two finalists for Vanderbilt’s job.

Franklin was expected to take over the Maryland job by January of 2012.  If he doesn’t, the school will owe him $1 million.  Ralph Friedgen has “repeatedly said that he wants to coach beyond 2011.”  Maryland’s AD has said he plans to talk to Friedgen about the future soon. 

Would Maryland force out Friedgen in order to hang onto Franklin?  Vandy’s interest could be the best thing for Frankin’s leverage.

So there’s this morning’s news:

1.  Vandy could make a hire today…

2.  Or not if they decide to talk to Navy’s Niumatalolo…

3.  And the finalists appear to be Franklin and Roman (two of the four names I was told by people near the search this week)…

4.  Even though Vandy has tried to reach out to some proven head coaches.

Got all that?

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