Maryland Moving Ralph Friedgen Out
The decision by first-year athletic director Kevin Anderson effectively ends Friedgen's tenure in College Park after 10 seasons at his alma mater and completes one of the program's most tumultuous days.
According to the source, Friedgen was asked to step aside Friday hours after offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting James Franklin accepted the head coaching position at Vanderbilt.
Friedgen, who was named the ACC's coach of the year late last month, led Maryland to an 8-4 season after a 2-10 nosedive in 2009 nearly cost him his job. He is 74-50 in 10 seasons with the Terps, and ranks third in program history in coaching victories behind Curley Byrd (122) and Jerry Claiborne (77).
The Terps will play in their seventh bowl game in the last decade on Dec. 29 when they meet East Carolina (6-6) in the Military Bowl. in Washington, D.C.
It is uncertain who will coach Maryland in that game. The source said Franklin invited defensive coordinator Don Brown, running backs coach John Donovan and wide receivers coach Lee Hull to join him at Vanderbilt.
Friedgen has one year remaining on the contract he signed in 2004, with a salary of about $2 million. His ouster comes almost exactly a month after Anderson announced Friedgen would remain at Maryland in 2011 to fulfill his deal.
But apparently, Franklin's presence was assumed to be part of the equation. Franklin, who was named the program's coach in waiting in February 2009, was guaranteed $1 million if he remained at Maryland and did not take over the Terps in 2012.
With Franklin no longer willing to wait that long, it was clear Maryland faced a gap in recruiting. Friedgen, with only a year left on his deal, was in a difficult position to fill that void -- particularly in terms of securing a new ace recruiter to replace Franklin without having the ability to offer job security in return.
Still, the most conventional possibility was to offer Friedgen an extension. But when Anderson was directly asked if Friedgen would return in 2011 in an afternoon teleconference with beat writers -- one Friedgen did not participate in, a team spokesman said, because of illness -- the athletic director deferred his answer to next week.
"I will sit down and everybody will understand where we're going and how we're moving forward with the program," Anderson said. "At this point in time, I'm not going to answer that question."
Within hours, the course of events seemed to answer the question for Anderson.
So rather than outlast Franklin by months or years, Friedgen appears to have stayed mere hours before a decision was made to make a change.
Anderson, who was hired in September to replace Debbie Yow, was asked if Franklin's departure created more flexibility going forward.
"Here's how I look at it," Anderson said. "We proved this year we're very competitive in the ACC. We were a couple victories away from competing for the conference championship. My expectation for this program is continue to grow and for us to continue to compete at that high level and be a national presence in football. One of the things I'm looking at is to make sure we put the best possible staff together so we can move ahead and be consistently good if not great in the years to come."
It appears the best possible staff in the years to come, in Anderson's estimation, does not include Friedgen.
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