Ralph Friedgen Not Ready to Leave Maryland Just Yet
With an asterisk.
Friedgen, Maryland's embattled head football coach, says it's paramount the Terrapins get off to a good start this season. Their September schedule features games against Navy, Morgan State and Florida International, in addition to West Virginia.
It goes without saying there has been a growing sentiment the program needs to go in a different direction despite the fact Friedgen's final season is earmarked for 2011. Friedgen, entering his 10th year at his alma mater, barely survived last year's 2-10 debacle.
Since 2004, he has had four losing seasons and only two winning records.
"I think it's very important we start off well," Friedgen, 63, said Monday during the ACC Football Kickoff here at the Grandover Resort. "If we don't start off well, we'll struggle."
Of course, Maryland is also experiencing a major transition at the highest levels.
Athletics director Debbie Yow left Maryland on July 10 to take the same position at North Carolina State. Friedgen admitted it was strange to see Yow here at Sunday night's dinner with Wolfpack personnel.
Plus, Terps president C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. is stepping down at the end of August, and no replacement has been named.
Friedgen says it's vital the school hires a president who supports the athletics program. Maryland's new athletic director will oversee 27 sports and a $55 million athletics budget.
Randy Eaton, the athletic department's chief financial officer, is the interim athletic director while the university's search progresses. The search is expected to take three to four months.
Friedgen says he's "very confident and comfortable" with Eaton.
Yet, Friedgen also realizes that winning can make life easier for all involved, his players included. Friedgen admitted they also feel the scrutiny surrounding the program, though he has instructed them not to worry about the speculation surrounding his future.
Friedgen, who won 31 games in his first three seasons, with an ACC crown, wants to get his program back in the Top 25 and contend again for the ACC championship. Neither appears to be easy.
Maryland is picked to finish last in the ACC Atlantic and it has more youth than experience.
Still, players say the team has no excuses for struggling in 2010.
"We want to change our program around to get it how it was," wide receiver Torrey Smith said Sunday.
"Coach Friedgen has all the credibility in the world. He's not doing anything differently. It's on us to get it done."
While the Terps also have a head coach-in-waiting -- offensive coordinator James Franklin was tabbed last season as Friedgen's successor -- Friedgen didn't sound like he was ready to step aside. He has two years remaining on his contract.
"If I am enjoying myself and we are doing well, I plan on being at Maryland -- but we will have to see what the new AD and president say," Friedgen said.
"We know who the next coach of Maryland is going to be, whether it's 10 years from now or two years from now. ... As I understood it (agreement), as long as I was doing well I could coach as long as I wanted to."