Friedgen as Program CEO
Expectations for this Maryland team are relatively low – six or seven wins, perhaps – but there is no question Coach Ralph Friedgen has been less stressed during camp compared to previous years. He has not been in a grumpy mood one day this month with reporters, which qualifies as a significant upset for any coach plowing through two-a-days with a young team.
What’s the reason? Well, some of it has to do with losing 105 pounds and eating healthier. Some of it has to do with the fact that he likes these kids, generally likes them and the effort they are exuding. But another reason is because he has been freed up to tackle other duties while coordinators he trusts – OC James Franklin and DC Don Brown – handle the bulk of scripts for practice and other tedious, yet essential tasks. After handling offensive coordinator duties for a couple years before Franklin was brought back for last season, Friedgen now feels like the CEO of the program.
“For two years, I did the scripts, four pages of plays every day,” said Friedgen, holding up a copy of a detailed practice regimen. “I did the practice plan. I did the game plan. Now my coordinators do it. I was doing the game plan. I was handling fundraising, dealing with the media.
“I was worn out. I was 60 and working harder than I ever had in my life. That’s not how it is supposed to be. [Now] I don’t micromanage. I hired them to do a job. If I totally disagree with something, I will tell them. But I haven’t called a play.”
The closest Friedgen came to calling a play was in last season’s 27-24 victory over North Carolina State, when Maryland needed to drive into field goal position in the game’s final minute. Through the headset, Friedgen asked Franklin what he wanted.
“I like the double screen,” Franklin said.
“I like it, too,” Friedgen answered.
Chris Turner threw the screen pass to running back Davin Meggett, who was tackled inside the 5. Maryland kicked a game-winning field goal.
“When you have good people, let them do their job, trust that they can,” Friedgen said. “Now I focus on my players. I talked to a kid last night, he felt like he didn’t play well. He said, ‘I blew this, blew that’. I said, ‘You’re a young guy who will get better.’ Coming off the field, he said, ‘Coach, I really appreciated you talking to me last night.’ Two years ago I may not have been able to do that. I would have to come back in here and get ready for tomorrow’s scripts.”
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