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For Some, Great Expectations

I meant to write about my early-morning visit to the Breakfast with Fridge last week, but it’s been a busy and maddening time. Anyway, Ralph Friedgen held his second breakfast with supporters on the Friday before the N.C. State game. I was pretty curious about it, so I checked it out, arriving at the hotel in College Park before the sun rose. For the most part, an older, loyal demographic turned out. There were roughly 70 supporters in the auditorium to hear Friedgen speak. One guy sat front row in a hard hat. Someone whispered to me that Friedgen normally gets more than 100 fans for these breakfasts. The audience offered light applause as Friedgen walked toward the stage.

Friedgen talked about many things: the loss of Kevin Barnes, the possibility of becoming bowl eligible and the upcoming arrival of his new blog. But I found the question-and-answer session to be the most interesting. An adult man who sat in the first few rows, wearing an Orioles cap, asked Friedgen something about when Maryland would win the national title. They went back and forth a little, and Friedgen asked the man if he went to the Wake Forest game. The man said no. Friedgen told him to buy some tickets. The man, who seemed to be losing patience with the team’s inconsistent ways, asked another question or two. Friedgen answered them the best he could; the two shook hands afterward. I wondered whether the man represented the typical Maryland fan or not, but that’s hard to measure. I was surprised more fans did not turn out to see a team that was, and still is, in strong contention for the Atlantic Division title.

But over the past five years in D.C., I have had a hard time getting a read on exactly how much passion the fan base has for this team and what its realistic expectations are. Are most fans like the fan at the breakfast eyeing a national title? Or do most fans think an occasional run at the ACC title is a realistic goal?

By Eric Prisbell  |  November 3, 2008; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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An occasional run at the ACC title is what we have now is it not? This would be the thrid time it was really in contention in Fridges 7 years which is nothing to sneeze at. But with a run every other year the the ACC crown a run at a national title shouldn't be totally out of the question...right?

And good for Fridge calling him out for not being at the Wake game. Fans showing up to all the games makes a big difference in recruiting. Why would a kid want to go play in front of a half full 50,000 fan stadium?

Posted by: Lee26 | November 3, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

EP Does Fridge know the Press was there. He usually shares tidbit that he doesn't want the world to know? FREDTERP

Posted by: FREDTERP44 | November 3, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I think challenging for the ACC Division title is realistic goal every year if the ACC continues to field mediocre teams.

I dont ever expect Maryland to contend for the national title. They would have to go undefeated and that is not realistic. They would have to be considered with teams like Texas, Ohio State, USC, LSU, Florida and that is not realistic either.

Posted by: mzanman | November 3, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I have been going to games for over 30 years and all I look for is good effort from players and coaches, winning seasons and a chance at conference and national titles once in a while. Coaching is the biggest problem with this program. I don't go to the breakfasts anymore because I don't like Ralph and his attitude. I feel the success the first few years was from Blackney and Taffe, his coordinators and not Ralph. His current DC does not seem to have any idea how to prepare the team for a game or adjust during the game. He is a major problem and a reason I have given tickets away to games because I don't want to even watch him misuse the talent he has had to work with the past few years. The OC seems to be getting that unit headed in the right direction.

Posted by: miketerp1 | November 3, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

ACC title is really all we have to hope for, anything more is ridiculous (and coming from a guy in an O's hat makes it all the more hilarious).

I'd poop my pants if we got into the top 15 in the polls at the end of a season, that's a huge success for us.

Posted by: ckstevenson | November 3, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what all the complaints are at the attendance. Before RF 15,000 to 18,000 fans was typical. Also, is there a more difficult parking situation anywhere? Increasing statium size without addressing parking was ludicrous. Combine that with higher and higher ticket prices and some uninspired play. No administrator or coach at MD has any reason to complain.

Posted by: fellowfan | November 3, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This team could be special. But all we know is that they are completely inconsistent. I think the fans are just confused this year. I know I am. This team lacks an identity, that something special that fans identify with, aside from w's and l's. Maybe something will spark it. Hell, just getting closer to the end of the season being in contention should stir the pot nicely. A win at VT will probably equal a packed house for UNC. Positive ntl. exposure + meaningful game = DC area's attention.

Posted by: skiajl6297 | November 3, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I won't pretend to speak for "most" fans, but I'd love to see a run at a national title. But that won't happen unless they catch lightning in a bottle sometime in getting some more top skill players and solid lines on both sides of the ball. My expectations are that the program reach a point where bowl games are expected each year, where any year the team can be expected to compete for the ACC title, and where if they have a magical season they might go undefeated and be in consideration for the BCS title.

Currently the program is at a higher level than it has been since Bobby Ross left, and the conference as a whole is more competitive than it was then. So I am happy that things are as good as they are, but not content with this being the ceiling for the program. I want Maryland to be in the running for top recruits in MD, PA, DE, VA, and WV year in and year out, and getting the occasional upper echelon player from elsewhere around the country. I don't know that Fridge can do all that, but I don't know that he can't either.

Posted by: jrfisher57 | November 3, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Attendance at Breakfast with Fridge has been abysmal this year. Probably the biggest reason is poor advertising. A mass email to all Terrapin Club members is all it would take to double the attendance, but even that seems to be too much for the breakfast organizers.

Posted by: fwalker8 | November 4, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

IMO a national title is a big wish right now but to be in contention for the ACC title every year is not. Once we get into the position of contending for the ACC on a regular basis then we can start thinking about national titles again.

Posted by: PacoInAjijic | November 4, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Before we challenge for a national title, we must win a couple of ACC titles first. By doing so, national perception of the Maryland football program will change. With improved perception comes better players, additional resources, and hopefully more fans to fill up the additional seating capacity at Byrd. One step at a time...

Posted by: memphisterp | November 4, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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