Poor Ralph Friedgen. Earlier this week it was announced that he would be forced out as Maryland head coach after 10 seasons as head coach. He had taken Maryland from being completely irrelevant in the ACC to being bowl bound and cracking the top 25. He took over in 2001 and for the first 3 seasons he went 31-8 finishing in the top 20 all 3 seasons. He fizzled out since then going 43-42 the past 7 seasons, although this is still good compared to where they were in the 1990’s. He actually won ACC coach of the year this season as well after taking The Terps from 2-10 last season to 8-4 this year. So why was he fired? There are basically two parts to this: Friedgen forced Athletic Director Kevin Anderson’s hand and Maryland made a business decision. The first part to this was Friedgen publicly campaigning for a contract extension saying he wanted to guarantee recruits that he would be at Maryland in the long run. Anderson had already decided that he wasn’t the long term solution so he was forced to let him know that he wouldn’t be here much longer. The second part was business related. While Maryland has been a decent team, they haven’t filled the seats in the stands and haven’t really done anything note-worthy recently. This may seem silly, until you consider who they will most likely hire in his spot.
Oh yes, the Mad Scientist is set to make his return to college football. After getting passed up by Miami, Maryland has made Mike Leach the frontrunner for the job and for good reason. Maryland was looking for a coach who could accomplish three things: excitement on the field, bring a buzz about the program, and get Maryland over the mediocrity hump. Leach has all of these in spades. The excitement on the field should be easy. Leach is an offensive guru whose offense constantly ranks top 5 in the nation so expect the points to come in bunches. He’s also nationally recognized (for better or worse) and brings a high level of familiarity with him to the program. It should spark some interest in the program and put seats in the stadium. Lastly will be getting Maryland over the hump. It may not come right away, but if he follows what he did at Tech, he’ll steadily build up the team to a contender. Considering he’s going to be in a conference that’s not even close to being as competitive as the Big XII, he should have an easier time adjusting. As for Friedgen, I expect him to find a place on Frank Beamer’s staff as the two have a long history together.