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Posted at 1:27 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

After two in-person interviews, Franklin could hear from Vanderbilt on Friday

By Eric Prisbell

James Franklin, Maryland’s offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting, is one of two finalists for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, which could make an offer to a candidate as early as Friday, a source with intimate knowledge of the search said Thursday.

Greg Roman, Stanford’s offensive coordinator, is believed to be the other finalist.

Franklin has had two in-person interviews with Vanderbilt, the source said, and has been a serious candidate to replace Robbie Caldwell, who resigned following a 2-10 season, for at least one week.

David Williams, the vice chancellor for athletics at Vanderbilt, confirmed in a telephone interview Thursday that Franklin is a candidate for the position. He declined to specify how many other candidates remain under consideration.

Williams, who first met Franklin when Franklin was an assistant at Kansas State, has long been impressed with Franklin’s focus and preparation.

“Even back then, he was putting into motion a plan of what it would take to be a head coach,” Williams said. “The other thing is, we were aware that he is the coach-in-waiting at Maryland. Obviously, somebody else has recognized some of the same things that we recognized.”

Williams said he will meet with Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos no later than Friday morning about candidates; the two will also rely on input from other unspecified individuals with knowledge of the candidates.

This is a critical juncture for the Maryland football program because of the uncertainty over who will coach the Terrapins after the 2011 season. The fan base is divided over whether head Coach Ralph Friedgen or coach-in-waiting Franklin – or neither – should coach the Terrapins in 2012. Kevin Anderson, Maryland’s first-year athletic director, has said only that he would discuss the future of the program with Friedgen after this season.

If Franklin remains at Maryland, he is owed $1 million if he is not named head coach by January 2012. He was appointed as Friedgen’s eventual successor in February 2009 in large part because he had received an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and garnered strong interest from other colleges, as well.

But Friedgen is not ready to retire following the 2011 season, the final year of his contract. He has repeatedly said he wants to continue coaching beyond that. He has been telling high school prospects that he plans on coaching for the majority of their college careers. And Friedgen said in a radio interview last week with the Sports Junkies that not having an extension, at this point, “does not help me” and that while he has had some discussions with school officials, they are “not willing to commit to anything yet.”

After a 2-10 season in 2009 that nearly cost him his job, Friedgen orchestrated the second-biggest turnaround in the country this season, leading the Terrapins to an 8-4 record and their seventh bowl appearance in his 10-year tenure. He earned ACC coach of the year honors for the second time.

The Tennessean reported Thursday that Vanderbilt is interested in talking to Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo about the position. Navy officials said Thursday that Niumatalolo has not and will not interview for the Vanderbilt opening, and that he remains committed to Navy.

Staff writer Gene Wang contributed to this report.

By Eric Prisbell  | December 9, 2010; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  Football, Ralph Friedgen  
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Next: If Gus Malzahn declines offer, Vanderbilt could make one today to Maryland's James Franklin

Comments

Eric, If only your commitment to the TI and to reporting on Maryland Athletics was mirrored by Liz. We have ZERO posts today on last night's game. My theory: she hates the TI and will do the bare minimum to fulfill whatever responsibilities she has to it.

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Really hoping Vandy snatches Franklin up. Would solve MD's head coach issues and allow the Terps to extend Fridge's contract without any complications. Some will argue how great of a recruiter Franklin is--but we simply don't know no that to be the case. Fridge was a fine recruiter in the years Franklin wasn't here and no reason to believe he and Sollazzo can't get the job done again.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Eric, you should also be proud of the fact the THE COACHES (Fridgo and Garo) read your posts! :)

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Just having fun with you Barno...everyone knows where you stand. It's your right to be their supporter.

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

What a mess this whole thing has become. We have a coach in waiting and a head coach who doesn't want to leave. Then the CIW may be leaving for another job. Does this mean the HC will have his contract extended or will he reamain on the short leash of a one year contract extention? What is a recruit supposed to think? Is that a roar of laughter coming out of Raleigh? Can't wait for the next chapter of "How the Coaches Turn".

Posted by: fellowfan | December 9, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Since 2001:

NC State: 66-56 (5 bowl appearances, 0 CC's, Ranked in Final Polls: 1)

Terps: 74-50 (7 bowl appearances, 1 CC, Ranked in Final Polls: 3)

They can laugh all they want.

Posted by: NaptownTerrapin | December 9, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Forgot head-to-head: Maryland leads 7-3

Posted by: NaptownTerrapin | December 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

If Franklin leaves, I don't think Anderson has anything to think about other than how fast he can get a 4-year extension printed and on Fridge's desk. There's no reason to leave Fridge hanging in 2011 and sacrifice an entire year of recruits because Anderson wants to "wait and see." He's already given Fridge 2011, so if he's your coach for next year, and you're released from the HCIW contract, you lock up your HC through 2015.

2-10 was an anomaly, and it's clear this team has ACCCG and BCS expectation for at least the next 2-4 years moving forward. In order to keep the program from backsliding in 2012-2014, an extension has to be in place, or 2009's record might not look like an anomaly anymore.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Actually barno I disagree. I think JF leaving would be a significant hit to our chances of improving on 8-4 next season.

A disruption at OC is likely to have a negative impact moreso than be an improvement. DOB's development is crucial and the potential leap next year could be compromised. And he is a good recruiter.

Best scenario - he does not get the job. So MD pays him $1M. No biggie. We see the team next season with a clear starting QB with a successful track record and a clear upside.

Given the increase in AD revenues coming, how could it not be worth a sunk promised $1M. I hope he has bonuses that kick in if they win the division, conference, BCS game in his contract. And I hope he collects every single last stinking penny.

Because the program needs to focus only on the remaing ECU game and preparing for next season (recruiting and such).

And maybe, just maybe, he'll get a lot better at play-calling; he should have a deeper and more talented line next year.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

"A disruption at OC is likely to have a negative impact moreso than be an improvement."

Hugh, respectfully disagree. Our offensive coordinator Franklin has been lousy at his chief responsibility--play-calling--and we can only improve in that regard. I doubt our future play callers will elect to run the ball on 3rd and 13 in the biggest game of the year, go for it on 4th and 17 when in field goal range, kick the ball repeatedly on 4th and inches in our opponent's territory without even asking for a measurement, routinely opt for wide receiver screens instead of stretching the field in good weather, repeatedly call for risky deep throws in pouring rain when we are already leading, and have no consistency whatsoever in whether he wants to be a conservative play-caller or a risk taker---all of which Franklin demonstrated time and again as our O-coordinator the past 3 seasons.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea. Encourage Franklin to take the Vandy job then DO NOT resign Friedgen after next year and get this program started in an entirely different direction with a new head coach and staff.

Posted by: POPS1 | December 9, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Coaches know more than fans My only questions are about putting in Robinson for no apparent reason.

We now have a huge mess on our hands. Franklin leaving will hurt the program in terms of recruiting. He brought in DOB who is the best QB to play for MD in a long time and better than any QB Fridge has had.

We will be right back to where we were, which is other schools using Fridge's age/health against him to create uncertainty in the minds of recruits.

Who comes in as OC? I have not heard any names mentioned. Not sure what the right answer is here.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 9, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Besides, Vandy is where coaches go to die. I consider it a "reset job" because it is one of those jobs that coaches take for a few years, get fired, then become a coordinator again.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 9, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Who says DOB doesn't follow Franklin to Vandy? He is the one that recruited the kid and was the reason for him coming to CP. Heck, the SEC, closer to home, and playing for the coach you like would be good enough reason for me to transfer out. IF that happens, then what?

Posted by: kaptainterp | December 9, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea. Encourage Franklin to take the Vandy job then DO NOT resign Friedgen after next year and get this program started in an entirely different direction with a new head coach and staff.

Posted by: POPS1 | December 9, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse
---------------------------

That's a great idea Pops! Right in the middle of DOB's career, let's have him (likely) learn a whole new offense and adjust to a whole new coach (or coaches).

Brilliant!

(sarcasm)

Posted by: fushezzi | December 9, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I ususally don't get in the middle of these debates but I think I have to agree with Barno on this one. The play calling he spelled out has been a problem and I think it certainly cost us the Miami game which I was at. We had a decent lead and played not to lose instead of playing to win. Some of that may fall on Ralph since he is HC but the OC calls them and Ralph rarely over rules the call.

It might look good for Maryland to have groomed a HC. I don't think losing JF to Vandy will make DOB any less of a QB. We should all remember that RF has coached some pretty good QB's in his time. I would be comfortable with JF leaving and solving the $1M problem. I bet there is a decent OC out there that RF can pluck. I don't think RF should go back to being OC and HC. Too much of a load on the guy.

As to the recruiting aspect I'm not sold that JF has been responsible for all the improvement in recruiting. He has helped but it is not soley due to his efforts. Solazzo has quietly done pretty well.

Anyhow that's my two cents.

I hope all you folks get out to the bowl game. Not ideal but it is what it is. They need our support. GO TERPS !!!

Posted by: JoeR123 | December 9, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

How do we know which plays are called by Fridge, Franklin or audible or busted by the players?

Posted by: garrett4 | December 9, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't disagree with people's complaints about play calling. We all know some of the horror stories. But that is only part of and OC's job. The other parts, evaluating the opponent and developing a game plan, managing the other offensive coaches, overseeing practice and working particularly closely with the QB, are also very important. Probably no one on this site can really evaluate Franklin's performance in those areas and we may not know the things that caused some of those "bad" plays not to work. My conclusion is that we would be better off if he doesn't leave. DOB would probably benefit from his presence next year (although I can't be sure of that). From my perspective the best scenario is to be able to make a decision about who should coach beyond next year well into next year. Let Fridge earn it. If he doesn't, let Anderson consider his best options, with Franklin being in the mix.

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

If the Vandy AD had a brain, he'd call Anderson and ask him to send him a check for $250K and he'd solve his CIW problem....75% discount off the the $1M CIW contract problem. Problem solved...win, win!

Posted by: BD-EC | December 9, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Is D-Coordinator Don Brown under contract next year or is he heading for head coaching job too?

Posted by: AdoptedTerp | December 9, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Barno is right. Franklin is an awful playcaller, especially against good teams.

Yes, he's a great talker and seller, but his job is playcalling and his west coast offense only does well against the morgan st and wake's of the world.

Posted by: jdgreger@yahoo.com | December 9, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Franklin is a personable guy, much more so than Ralph. The kids love Ralph though, and would do anything for him.

It's a very young team, should be better next year; even with losing Wujak.

Franklin filled a recruiting void left by Mike Loksley. It was Loksley who got Vernon Davis to be a TERP (and Vonte to go to Illinois). We will need a strong, local presence. Too many local kids go elsewhere.

I love Franklin personally, remember your name and stuff, but his "X's and O's" have left something to be desired at times.

I wonder how Coach Myer will be feeling in a year?

Posted by: jimbo561 | December 9, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Barno is right. Franklin is an awful playcaller, especially against good teams.

Yes, he's a great talker and seller, but his job is playcalling and his west coast offense only does well against the morgan st and wake's of the world.

Posted by: jdgreger@yahoo.com

If so, kind of makes you wonder why Ralph hasnt done anything about it other than just stand by and watch...hmmmmm

Posted by: TerpfanMA | December 9, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Who says DOB doesn't follow Franklin to Vandy? He is the one that recruited the kid and was the reason for him coming to CP. Heck, the SEC, closer to home, and playing for the coach you like would be good enough reason for me to transfer out. IF that happens, then what?

Posted by: kaptainterp | December 9, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Good to know James Franklin is now posting comments on this board.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Right you are, again, Terpfan. There is more to the job than play calling. I would be willing to bet Ralph sees his value and would like to keep him. I can't believe that Ralph thinks that the CIW contract is more of a threat than the team's performance next year with Ralph at the helm. I may not be the biggest Ralph fan but I think he is more of a man than that.

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Why shouldn't he FridgO, since Ralph and Gary have been here for some time! :)

Posted by: petecard | December 9, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: garrett4 |

"Besides, Vandy is where coaches go to die. I consider it a "reset job" because it is one of those jobs that coaches take for a few years, get fired, then become a coordinator again."

Since this post is about JF possibly going to Vandy, Garrett's post wins the prize in my view. Here's Vandy's win totals the past 10 years: 2, 2, 2, 2, 5, 4, 5, 7, 2, 2...enuff said - JF will be a dead coach walking and get buzz sawed by the SEC - GUARANTEED. If I know I can continue a resurgence next season, being locked in for $1 Mil, and be more in demand as a more seasoned squad in all likelihood wins 8 or more games next year too, I'm gonna stay put and get a better gig than Vandy.

And btw, UMD is a very good football HC job (way better than Vandy though). It will be hard, with the budget constraints the school system has, to pay what Anderson will need to, to get someone of Fridge's caliber at the pay Fridge gets. That is a financial reality regardless of who calls what, who coaches how. Fridge and JF and DB got it done with the guys this year. I am proud of them and want to see an encore performance by Fridge.

Posted by: terptek | December 9, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

meant to say UMD is not a plum HC job, but a very good one...

Posted by: terptek | December 9, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Petecard wrote, "Probably no one on this site can really evaluate Franklin's performance in those areas and we may not know the things that caused some of those 'bad' plays not to work."

Well said, though one could quibble with the word 'probably'.

Posted by: AncientTerp | December 10, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Petecard wrote, "Probably no one on this site can really evaluate Franklin's performance in those areas and we may not know the things that caused some of those 'bad' plays not to work."

And yet Petecard regularly tries to evaluate (negatively) Gary Williams' performance and Ralph Friedgen's performance. I love how Petecard contradicts himself on a, literally, daily basis.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

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