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The importance of history

By Rick Nelligan

The biggest question surrounding the Maryland football program since the season began has been “how many games would the Terps have to win to save head coach Ralph Friedgen’s job?” After watching Saturdays game against Miami I was listening to ESPN 980’s postgame show and heard a lot of venom directed toward the coaching staff. Most of the fans that called in were calling for an end to Friedgen’s tenure. It started with criticizing Friedgen for being content to run the ball three straight times and punt late in the fourth quarter and ended with his inability to recruit in the DC Metro area. While I agree with most of the criticism I heard, I do not agree with calling for anyone’s pink slip just yet.

Fans seem to have forgotten just what Coach Friedgen has done for Maryland football. A lot of people forget just how putrid the Terrapin football program was for years before Friedgen took over. Maryland had only made one bowl game in the fifteen years prior to his tenure. That is Duke football status, ladies and gentleman. Since Friedgen took the reins, the Terps will have made a bowl game seven out of his ten seasons, including one Orange Bowl appearance. I’m only 22 years old, so I have no idea what it felt like to be a fan before Friedgen, but I can’t imagine anyone was excited about it.

Just how many of you or people you know have become Maryland football fans due to Friedgen’s success? I had no idea Terrapin football even existed before 2001, except for occasionally hearing about LaMont Jordan. College football is easily the biggest money maker in collegiate athletics. With all of the exposure, new fans, and consistent bowl game appearances that Friedgen has brought, he has been next to priceless for the University of Maryland.

Had Friedgen followed up his two win campaign last year with another dud this year, then I might be singing a different tune. But so far this season, he has surpassed expectations. The Terps are 6-3 and control their own their own destiny to get to the ACC Championship game. Friedgen clearly has shown he still knows how to coach. And while I’ve never been excited with Maryland’s inability to recruit the D.C. area during Friedgen’s tenure, you can’t deny his ability to find a few diamonds in the rough.

I think we can all agree that after Friedgen’s contract is up after next season, we’d like for athletic director Kevin Anderson to go after the next up-and-coming coaching candidate. That is of course if James Franklin is not named the next head coach. While Maryland hasn’t had the same success as the more traditional programs, don’t think that the loyalty that the university and the fan base has shown to Friedgen over the past ten years will go unnoticed.

In all, Friedgen has done incredible things for Terrapin football. I’m not ready to throw that away just because we lost to Miami on the road in the last minute of the game. Friedgen has earned better than that, and I will support him until the end.

By Rick Nelligan  | November 8, 2010; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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Next: Terps basketball: rendezvous with the Redhawks

Comments

Went to UMD during the very early 90's, and our teams stunk. I remember hoping and praying that we could go to whatever low tier bowl that would take us (Poulan Weedeater anyone?). Fridge deserves another year, as our teams have some potential the next two years.

For all of you who disagree, just remember two things:

(1) the grass isn't always greener. more times than not, coaching changes don't help.

(2) we're Maryland. We should be content with winning seasons and bowl games which Fridge has brought. We're not, and never are going to be, Texas, Florida, LSU, Penn State, so be realistic.

Posted by: island1 | November 9, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

You're definitely right that the grass isn't always greener. To all of those people calling for Fridge's head, they're not fans and know nothing about college football. I know that's a bold statement but if they knew what Maryland had been through for the previous 18 or so years with no bowl game, and went through the Duffner and Vanderlinden eras when they really wanted to hire Fridge back in the late 90s but just couldn't do it (from what I have heard it was money at the time though Vanderlinden got a pretty good deal). I was only a kid at the time (class of 2003 so people can date me) but I remember those tough years and in 1999, having to beat Virginia at home to go to a bowl game only to them march right down the field on us when Lamont Jordan had a school record 307 or so rushing yards.

I wrote a response last week about in regards to our fans when Fridge made the comments about his staff not getting a raise recently and if, we, as Terp fans, are really doing all we can do to support the team, and this is not one of them. As a fan, do you have the right, of course. But if you do, consider yourself a fair weather fan who has not been through the tough times and need to get invested in this program, otherwise, as Denny Green once said, "they are who we thought they were." But I'm not letting you off the hook.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | November 12, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

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