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Friedgen and the contract extension question at Maryland

By Eric Prisbell

So we have two games left in a season that many believed would be a 12-game march to a firing. Although first-year AD Kevin Anderson remains non-committal about the future of his head coach, most anyone with a care about this football team can figure, at this point, a firing is unlikely to happen. Ralph Friedgen has Maryland destined for its seventh bowl games in 10 years, a significant accomplishment at that particular school. The kids generally graduate. The kids generally stay out of trouble. The coaching staff stays out of trouble. Plus, the five-win improvement (and counting), and the chance to compete for a division title, has turned Maryland into one of the better feel-good stories around this season (if the rest of the country even cares about ACC story lines at this point). And on top of everything you have a school not well positioned to buy out the final year of Friedgen’s contract and hand him $2 million.

So if we establish that Friedgen will return – whenever Anderson wants to announce it – that leads to the bigger and, for some, more difficult question. Should Friedgen get an extension?

However Maryland finishes this season, the team is likely to be better next season (or at least have a chance to be better barring injuries/bad luck, etc.). After 2011, the final year of Friedgen’s contract, would Maryland have a chance to attract a better coach? Or should coach in waiting James Franklin be given a chance? Remember, Franklin is guaranteed $1 million if he is not named head coach by January 2012. So if Friedgen gets an extension, Maryland also has to deal with Franklin’s contract in whatever way it deems best.

“I have a lot of belief in these kids,” Friedgen said Sunday night. “I think they will continue to develop. I am appreciative of their effort, and I was appreciative of their effort last season. I don’t know what my future is going to be. There are a lot of things I can’t control. I don’t really look at it as [about] myself. I look at it as about my players.”

All along, Friedgen had said that he wanted to coach beyond 2011. And now, with the results of this season plus the promise of next season, he is making a lot of people who had counted him out re-evaluate their stance.

Now, a lot of things will change between now and the year 2012 -- 14 or so months from now. We'll be fully entrenched in another presidential election. Twitter will probably be considered old-school. And newspapers will be flourishing (I can hope).

(I read some old comments this weekend and was a bit slack-jawed at seeing a harmless discussion become a racial debate. So here's to hope that we can avoid that in the future.)

If you had to make the decision today, who is your choice to coach the team in 2012? I said 2012, the year Franklin has expected to take over.

By Eric Prisbell  | November 15, 2010; 2:46 PM ET
Categories:  Football, Ralph Friedgen  
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Mike Leach. At minimum, things would be entertaining each and every year.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | November 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Leach will get a multi-year contract this off-season, so he'll be off the market in 2011/12. Not only that, Leach will demand big bucks ($3-4 mil/year).

Posted by: Russtinator | November 15, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd also prefer to avoid the sideshows and bad pub that Leach generates. I know the guys at Testudo Times seem to love him, but I'd rather not have him anywhere near Maryland, unless we're beating whomever he's coaching at Byrd.

Posted by: Colm1 | November 15, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Please stop with the Leach junk. He wasn't successful at Tech and he wouldn't be successful at MD. No other school has ever tried to hire him, even after his Crabtree year (when they knocked off Texas) -- that should tell you something.

Posted by: mcmelton | November 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Simple Math in addition to the 2012 $1 Mil payout for Coach Franklin - our new AD and State Governor and other Admins need to get some big backing $$$ behind their commitment to the football program, which funds many other athletic programs at UMD along with Basketball... (enuff said):

UMD Football Budget - $11 Mil

And the ACC programs that spent the most on football were Miami ($20.9 million), Boston College ($19.4 million), Clemson ($18.8 million) and Virginia Tech ($18.2 million).

"BC, Clemson and Virginia Tech have combined to make six ACC championship game appearances and win two conference titles, both by the Hokies, since the league expanded to 12 in 2005." --- MD Daily Record

Posted by: terptek | November 15, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Considering what the budget is, what the fridge has done for this college is admirable. However isn't it correct that he gets about 20% of the budget ie his salary is about 1.75 M? If so as one of the highest paid coaches he has to live upto what he gets paid. In the meantime Anderson has to think about whether he wants the fridge to get compensation that's more performance based and increase the overall football budget.Promise the stuff a competitive share of bowl games and give them an incentive to make each and every season a success.

Posted by: mm_the_broker | November 15, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Firstly, you actually read the comments? How does your brain not explode? Secondly, you gotta keep the Fridge. Next year we're gonna have a beast team and they'll only get better. I would extend Fridge's contract and work out something with Franklin. It's a tough situation that Yow put us in. Pay Franklin a mil or extend the contract of a coach (Fridge) who is obviously better. If we want to keep Franklin (who is by far our best recruiter, although a terrible play caller), I would suggest bumping up his salary considerably. Not that he has earned it with his play-calling, but Yow idiotically put us in a tough situation.

Posted by: aviscardo | November 15, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah. Please stop with the Mike Leach stuff. He's not coming here. And, by the way, he's totally nuts.

Posted by: aviscardo | November 15, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Acknowledge Ralph's contribution to the program in improving its standing over the past ten years.

Then take some of the incremental revenue from the ACC-ESPN deal and hire Jim Harbaugh, or someone of that ilk.

Seriously and thoroughly examine the pros and cons of Big Ten expansion, should it materialize.

Posted by: RITerp | November 15, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

aviscardo: Amen! Mike Leach would set us back to the, make that the Dark, make that the CaveMan era...

Posted by: terptek | November 15, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

mm_the_broker I am not sure the 1.75 Mil is totally accurate, and not sure it counts towards the total football budget, as Fridge's base salary is 267k (UMD salary guide open to the public). I do not know how the other incentives and money from radio, cable shows, etc., get figured in to the budget. Are you sure about that?

Posted by: terptek | November 15, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Only the $267 is paid directly by the school. The 1.75MM is paid out from Under Armour, t.v. radio, camps, etc.

Jim Harbaugh is a pipe dream.

Posted by: island1 | November 15, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Eric P., you were slack-jawed that this subject engendered a heavy debate about affirmative action hiring policies? I don't get quite as hot under the collar as Barno does but can see where he and others are coming from. It's certainly a legitimate debate to have.

Posted by: jake177 | November 15, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why this question needs to be answered now. The Fridge has certainly earned the right to coach next year and I would be against firing him even if we lose the next two games. But why not wait a while to decide on 2012? I say play it the way the Yankees do. Deal with his next contract when the current one expires.

Posted by: petecard | November 15, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Once again, no one has listed a realistic hire that would actually come to MD.

Leach? The AD would have to be a complete idiot to hire Leach. I can't believe some people are dumb enough to mention him. He was terrible at TT with no D and he abused a player. On top of that he has some weird fetish with pirates. No thank you.

Posted by: garrett4 | November 15, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

terptek, looks like i was wrong about what was going to the fridge from the budget. Best thing anderson could do is to extend fridge for a few more years, up the budget a few million and see what happens. Franklin needs to stay because of his recruiting abilities and if hes not going to be around there's no point keeping the fridge.

Posted by: mm_the_broker | November 15, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

mm_the_broker - mm - Kool - I think you're right - personally, I've always liked Fridge as I've observed him in good times and bad (regarding his approach to the media and players and fans). I've had season tix since '91, so I've seen the good, bad, and ugly. I think recruiting turned the corner when Fridge and staff made some adjustments in their local approach. The staff has done better the past two years - now it's about staying healthy. The staff even tried different strength and conditioning approaches from what I saw on Comcast specials this year. The guys have persevered through injuries this season and won turnover battles - mark of a good team...

Posted by: terptek | November 16, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Ralph Friedgen is an excellent X's and O's man but, much like Charlie Weis, has no desire to wine and dine a bunch of 17 and 18 year-old kids and convince them that he 'needs' them to win games. However, that is a large part of a head coach's job responsibility in modern amateur athletics.

If we continue with RF, we have to be prepared to be out-recruited by our opponents. The last six years in College Park prove that having great talent is just as important as having great coaching in college football.

Posted by: Chuck98 | November 16, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Bud Foster, Tom Bradley are names that come to mind post 2012.

Posted by: LargoD85 | November 17, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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