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Posted at 4:03 PM ET, 12/20/2010

MD Pres Loh: '[$2 million Friedgen buyout] Is What Integrity Is All About'

By Liz Clarke


A final word from Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, who closed Monday’s press conference announcing the roughly $2 million buyout of the final year of Coach Ralph Friedgen’s contract:

Loh said that he felt in November that retaining Friedgen through 2011, the final year of his contract, was the principled thing to do. But he said he came to understand that the departure of offensive coordinator James Franklin for the head job at Vanderbilt changed matters.

Given that, Loh said that “moving toward a buyout,” as athletic director
Kevin Anderson recommended, was the responsible thing to do, even though it was a difficult decision “that pained [Anderson] and pained me.”

Loh said that coming up with the $2 million Friedgen is owed would be challenging but added: "That’s what integrity is all about.”

By Liz Clarke  | December 20, 2010; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  Football, Ralph Friedgen  | Tags:  Maryland football, Ralph Friedgen, athletic director Kevin Anderson, buyout  
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Next: Mike Leach: Sally Jenkins' take on the man

Comments

This thing is being handled as best it can given the circumstances.

Adults are at the wheel.

Alums need to relax and accept the transition that has been etched in stone for a good 2-3 years now.

The Pirate will navigate the program out of shallow waters.

Posted by: MerlinTerps | December 20, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Loh didn't have to get up there at the press conference and the fact that he did was a good thing. Do we finally have leadership that will take our programs to a higher level. I'm all for that! Wonder what they think of the fact that we haven't been to Sweet 16 in 7 years? Just play'n ya Fargo...

Posted by: petecard | December 20, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Loh at the presser hurt Anderson's credibility. Anderson was Loh's choice for AD, and now Loh has to stick by his guys when he makes a tought decision? Anderson made the decision, and it's his "self-sustaining" department that will be affected by this decision. That just wreaked of skeeviness. Presidents should stay out of commenting on athletic decisions. Didn't Loh learn anything from Dr. Gordon Gee?

Posted by: Russtinator | December 20, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Cant really see why yous Terps fans would be upset with this coaching change, particularity if they get Leach. I get the respect for Fridgen but was he winning you guys the ACC or putting you in the national picture, No.
If you hire Leach he brings instant credibility and offense. If Im O'brien or Smith im double high fiving at the possibility of that air attack.

Posted by: Stu27 | December 20, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Turmoil doesn't usually help with a football program during the first year. I'm not seeing how this helps O'Brien.

If anything, it screws him up for a year.

Posted by: Benson | December 20, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Probably pained Plank a bit more than you Loh ($2M more). Why don't we rename the university Under Armor U? This whole thing stinks to high hell. I hope Ralph goes to VT as the OC and crushes us every year.

Posted by: aviscardo | December 20, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Fridgen offense Vs Leach offense.

If the kid can make quick enough reads then there should be nothing to worry about for him. Leaches offense was light years ahead of anything Ralph ever ran.

The benefit for O'Brien will come when he shoots for the NFL, when Leaches offense will provide greater compensation for him then Fridges would have.

Posted by: Stu27 | December 20, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

So, aviscardo... you are more of Fridge fan than a Maryland Terrapin fan. Interesting. Wonder what your buddy Fargo will say about that.

Posted by: petecard | December 20, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

I think coming up with $2 million is what CONTRACTS are about.

It has nothing to do with integrity.

Posted by: Benson | December 20, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Loh's comments imply that Franklin set all this in motion, creating the need for change when he decided to depart for Vandy.

Does anyone really believe that Franklin simply changed his mind about taking over at MD in 2012 and started looking at offers elsewhere?

Or is the real truth that Anderson encouraged Franklin to look elsewhere by making it known that he was going to ditch Debbie Yow's plan and opt spend the $1mil to buy-out Franklin?

Doesn't it seem obvious Anderson that is the one who dictated how this played out, knowing he could get Franklin to "give back" the million by encouraging him to go find an offer to coach elsewhere in 2011? Didn't Anderson know full well that he could then take the $1mil saved when he pushed Franklin out, and use it to help buyout Fridge (with some extra $ help from, oh, Kevin Plank)?

Doesn't it seem equally obvious that Fridge and his agent (rightfully) fought back by asking for an extension, making it hard for Anderson to force out a coach who was reminding the community he deserved a reward for this season, rather than a pink slip?

Anderson banked on the idea than Ralph would fade quietly into the distance.

Posted by: Shas | December 20, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Classic management text show without a doubt that you do not just jump into a job (especially one where the organization is strong and trending even more positively), and create a massive disturbance.

Ralph Friedgen coached far above average for the majority of his career, except for the 2009-2010 season when he and Franklin were handed a really difficult situation. The former Athletic Director, Debbie Yow, steered them essentially into a hyper-public "co-leader" management structure. That almost never ever works. The resulting 2-9 record showed that. Friedgen reasserted himself this season(especially in fixing the offensive line) and the team posted a solid 8-4 (including getting Friedgen ACC Coach of the Year). Franklin, a talented fellow yet unproven as a head coach, to his credit, figured there was one chef too many in the kitchen, and he left for Vanderbilt. That left the pump primed for Friedgen to move smartly forward for the next few years with a solid young team. Instead he and the players gets this mess.

When Maryland botched Bobby Ross, he went elsewhere to win his national championship.

Sure, I hope that Maryland gets back to the Orange Bowl. Maryland deserves a serious run at a national championship. Friedgen knows how to get them there. Hopefully, so does the new coach.

If I was a loyal, first-class coach at Maryland, like Gary Williams or Sasho Cirovski, I would be scratching my head. Hopefully those national champions will swiftly get some real love and a sense of serious stability and serious public support from Wallace Loh and Kevin Anderson.

Posted by: jsandri | December 20, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Pete,
I support a program that is not run by scumbags. I also support a program that does not throw a fellow alum under the bus. You got what you want. Let's see if it works out. I predict Duffner Era Part II.

Posted by: aviscardo | December 20, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

TERP NATION,

I sincerely hope you pseudo-fans that's spouting off ludicrous remarks like you hope Friedgen goes elsewhere and beats the TERPS - - - or that you hope our TERPS go 0-12 next year, check yourself - - - and shed that TERP-hate.

Anderson was faced with an impossible situation, and is doing what's right for the TERRAPINS. Coach Friedgen wanted a long-term extension. Even though he knew (because he was complicit with the deal's design) that Debbie Yow had inked a contract with Coach Franklin to take over in 2012. So, how was Anderson supposed to play this one out?

If Anderson had given Coach Friedgen a 4-5 year deal, then he would have to buy Franklin out for $1M, per the terms of Franklin's Yow-deal. And if he accelerated Franklin's take-over as HC, then Coach Friedgen would clearly NOT get the longer term extension he sought. AND, coach Friedgen told Anderson that he DID NOT want to be a lame duck coach.

So I ask you haters: please spell out exactly what Kevin Anderson was supposed to do, in your opinion? Seriously, demonstrate some intellectual integrity and post a course of action that Anderson could have taken, that would have satisfied you.

Here's to supporting our team at the Military Bowl.

GO TERPS

Posted by: JEDI_TERP | December 20, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a terp fan, so I need some terp fans to explain this to me. Besides his first three seasons (when he was 31-8) ralph has gone 43-41. 43-41 over 7 seasons (please correct if my math is wrong). Now alumnus or not, .500 football gets your fired at any big boy D-1 program. What did everybody expect? Do maryland fans wanna win championships and compete? Or are the emerald and military bowls good enough? Cuz I'm a mizzou fan and if our coach went 43-41 over seven seasons he's out on his a**. Just sayin

Posted by: zvick11 | December 20, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

If only Loh could give Fargo1 $2 million to go away from the blog forever.

Posted by: DixonTheDog | December 20, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I think coming up with $2 million is what CONTRACTS are about.

It has nothing to do with integrity.

Posted by: Benson

Exactly. Plus it's not like they didn't try to get him to accept less money (according to WaPo); if they really have "integrity" they should give him the payout he wants, and still put his name in the Ring of Honor at Byrd. And this is coming from someone who is not particularly a big fan of Fridge's.

Posted by: crabcakes | December 20, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

While I am with you one the end result, Dixon, I know you are kidding about the $2 million pay out. Perhaps we could give WaPo $100 to have him banned...

Only kidding because unlike Fargo I am all for people speaking their peace on hear...

Posted by: petecard | December 20, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Liz Clarke got torn up quite a bit during the presser...a blog like this is simply hurt feelings. Loh backed his man's decision and told reporters like Liz that they don't know the story and don't understand what needs to be done long term. Loh basically said, shut it, you wouldn't know what integrity is because you're too busy trying to be sensational. and that's what Liz is doing...she is going for the sympathy story right now...as have others who have questioned Ralph during the past 7 years.

anderson and Loh kicked tail during the presser...They basically said for $2M and the investment the school has made into the program, the mediocre football days are over.

Posted by: minhle1 | December 20, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"Anderson was faced with an impossible situation"

Oh yeah, real "impossible" to give an extension to a coach who not only earned it but that the vast majority of the fan base supported. Man that would have been Mission Impossible.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 20, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

No this is what Turkeys are all about. Keep on their behinds Liz. Imagine a president at a state university even inferring that the press can't question their decisions or motives. Perhaps Dr. Wally should go back to China where this is business as usual. And he can take any of his lame requests for donations with him. Folks, keep your tickets if you like football like me, but hit Dr. Wally where he lives by withholding any other donations to Under Armour University. Also, there are plenty of other clothing manufacturers that produce Terps-wear other than the UA type made in China. I guess Plank controls the nationally renowned journalism school at UAU also.

Posted by: Terps85 | December 20, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious how off base a certain nutcase poster on here is (you know, that guy who named his screen name after my dead dog). If Leach is a success at Maryland, I will be the first person on here saying how wrong I was to question the move. But the bottom line is, I don't care if Bear Bryant came back from the dead to coach here, you just don't throw away a good man, a great coach, and an alum like Ralph Friedgen--who has done more for this football program than any of us could have possibly imagined when he was hired 10 years ago.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 21, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

I think Ralph has been treated badly. Loh is just spinning the story when he says that paying Ralph what he was owed is "honorable." Yeah, it's also a good way to avoid litigation. "Honorable" would be honoring the man who brought the program back from the abyss when he took over. Ring of Honor, etc. We'll see if Loh & Anderson truly behave honorably, but it doesn't sound like they will, at least not by choice.

That said, I can't help but be excited about the possibility that Leach comes to Terpland. Anyone who saw TT play when he was their coach should feel the same way...the man runs an exciting brand of football. Hope he comes to CP. Go Terps! Beat ECU!

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 21, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

What was the AD supposed to do? How bout extend Ralph's contract 2-3 years? How hard is that? As of now, we are only one of two schools in NCAA history to fire the conference coach of the year! And now they are talking about hiring Randy F'n Edsall? You can't be serious.

Posted by: aviscardo | December 21, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Ralph didn't want a 2-3 year contract, he wanted a long term deal. I have to be honest, the way this went down is not classy. But, this is a business and Fridge got his $2 million so I'm not going to cry a river for him. Bottom line is that we haven't done much since Vandy's players left. After 10 years and mediocre returns (once Fridge's players came in), it's hard to argue with this decision especially if we get a coach like Leach. As an earlier poster said, most coaches who go .500 in a power conference are not going to have a job past 3-4 years, it's simply not good enough. As much as people complained about Gary a few years back, he was never in the neighborhood of .500 over the past 10 years (and to be clear I am a huge Gary supporter who thinks he should coach as long as he wants at MD). But can you imagine if Gary's record was hovering around .500 how irate the fan base would be?

It's a tough decision to fire an alum who is a good guy who has done pretty well with the program. But we weren't going to compete for a NC anytime soon. While Danny is a great recruit and someone to build around, it took Ralph too long to find another QB on the level of Hill or Scotty McB. And to be fair, if the economy hadn't been so bad, Ralph would have been fired last year, and probably justifiably so.

I love Ralph; I was in school when he got hired; I went to the Orange Bowl; I supported the heck out of him. But, it's time for a change. Leach will come in, he'll institute a high powered offense, he will excite the fan base and will hopefully sell out Byrd (part of the reason we got the Military Bowl and not something better). And IF, notice IF, all of this happens, then people will forget about this and say what a great job Anderson did, even if it was a bit shady.

It's a business, people, winning is #1 and as much as many of us love the guy, Fridge didn't do enough of it to justify a long term deal. I wish him luck and I'm sure he'll be successful as an OC somewhere next year.

Posted by: CYork1 | December 21, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

cyork, so what if Ralph wanted a longer contract...if the school said we'll give you 2-3 years take it or leave it, he would have taken it.

"But we weren't going to compete for a NC anytime soon"

Oh my god...so we go from a .385 winning percentage over 14 years prior to Friedgen to "if you aren't going to win a national championship you can't coach here"

You people are insane.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 21, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Barno, just because someone has a differing opinion from yours doesn't make him insane. Personally, I think I fall somewhere between you and petecard on my feelings toward coaches and MD athletics from what I've read on this board over the past few years. Typically I lean closer to you than petey. But it's hard to argue with the facts during Fridge's tenure. I think to be fair, we should look at his record after the first three years when he was using his own players. One game over .500 does not make a strong case to keep a coach, regardless of whether he is an alum or a likable guy or whatever. We have to look at this in an impartial way. Fridge has not had a team to compete on a national level once Vandy's players left.

I am not saying he isn't a great coach, but his recruiting fell short. I also don't think it's fair to compare where the program was before he came in and use that 10 years later as justification for keeping him as your head coach. Perhaps Fridge was the coach to take the Terps to the next level, and Leach, presumably, will the one to take another step forward.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't like the way this was done. But, in business, things like this happen. As I also said earlier, Ralph is walking with an extra $2 million so while it was handled poorly, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. He'll move on and be successful as an OC in his next stop; I just hope it's not facing us because I know what he can do on the offensive side of the ball.

And if we're being honest, the only reason Fridge won COY is because the team was so bad last year. Most people would agree that he probably deserved to be fired last year but the budget wouldn't allow for it.

I am a Terp through and through, but I think this is the right decision. Handled badly, but the right move.

And Barno, you don't know that Ralph would have taken a 2 year deal. You haven't spoken with him over the past week, have you?

I'll reiterate what I said earlier, if Gary's record over the past 10 years averaged 17-15, I think many on this board would say it's time to move on. This is a results driven business. Fridge, unfortunately, didn't produce in the long run.

Posted by: CYork1 | December 21, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

York, if Friedgen had the choice between walking and taking a 2 year deal there is zero chance he would walk. He LOVED coaching here and loved these players. Come on man, think. I don't need to talk to him in the last week to understand common sense.

"I think to be fair, we should look at his record after the first three years when he was using his own players."

First off he won those early years mostly because of HIS guys, and you know that. Merriman, McBrien, Starks, Foxworth, D'Qwell Jackson...all those studs were Friedgen's guys and there's no way we win 31 games without those and other Friedgen guys.

Secondly, I think we should look at Friedgen's record outside the anomaly seasons as well, so let's remove the losing seasons which were obviously aberrations.

Friedgen's record in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010 = 56-21 or .720 win percentage.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 21, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Barno, you've gotta look at this impartially and without your emotions.

Merriman the other day tweeted this: "Ralph is a Great coach but if it wasn't for Mike Locksley most of 75% of the big time players wouldn't have gone to MD."

Locksley, Vanderlinden's recruiter, was at MD until 2003, the year we killed WVU in the Gator bowl. The next two years, no bowl and two 5-6 seasons.

It's not a coincidence. And your argument that you can just ignore his losing seasons and cancel that out with his first seasons isn't accurate. It's clear that Locksley was the force behind Fridge's first 3 years. Fridge is a great coach and an even better OC, but once the talent left we haven't been close to where we were when I was in school from '99-'03. And YOU know that.

More recently Merriman tweeted this: "If my terps really want to keep recruits in town and have x players come back to be involved then the AD should consider Mick Locks."

So one of Fridge's "studs" was not actually his but Locksley's. I'm guessing he's not the only one. Barno, most of MD's games aren't even shown live on local TV. There's very little interest in the team locally outside of die hard fans like those who read this board. And there's zero interest nationally. How many games have sold out in the last five years?

The situation was handled like a stinking pile, but it's the right decision. Fridge had a good run but it's time to move on.

Posted by: CYork1 | December 21, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

York, another former Friedgen player, Kevin Barnes, had some pretty choice words for Kevin Anderson. So please don't try to hold up Merriman's tweet as proof of anything. And to claim "most of Maryland games aren't even shown on local TV" well, I have to ask which you would prefer: Terp games on local tv or national tv? Because we set an all time Maryland record this year for most games on national tv. If no one cares about Maryland football, why did we have so many games on national tv? Hmmm...

As for claiming we haven't matched the success from the first 3 seasons, well in case you weren't paying attention this year, we are about to win our 9th game and were poised to return to the 10 win seasons the next several years until Anderson created this mess. Lucky we fired Friedgen just in time to make sure he doesn't return us to that prominence.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 22, 2010 5:15 AM | Report abuse

"Fridge has not had a team to compete on a national level once Vandy's players left."

Posted by: CYork1 | December 21, 2010 7:47 PM
_____________

It was also the same time Virginia Tech entered the ACC, which no one brings up but something that made Friedgen's recruiting far more difficult. Putting a nationally prominent program on equal footing with yours only weakened Maryland's pull on area recruits. It's no wonder Friedgen couldn't then take advantage of those successful early seasons.


"I'm not a terp fan, so I need some terp fans to explain this to me. Besides his first three seasons (when he was 31-8) ralph has gone 43-41. 43-41 over 7 seasons (please correct if my math is wrong). Now alumnus or not, .500 football gets your fired at any big boy D-1 program. What did everybody expect? Do maryland fans wanna win championships and compete? Or are the emerald and military bowls good enough? Cuz I'm a mizzou fan and if our coach went 43-41 over seven seasons he's out on his a**. Just sayin"

Posted by: zvick11 | December 20, 2010 6:31 PM
___________________

It's the Maryland mindset, in which football has a glass ceiling and is a mere warmup to basketball; this is a result of being in the ACC, not the Big 12 (a conference I know well from my grad school days at Iowa State). I think Anderson and Loh are trying to drag many Terrapin fans kicking and screaming into what big-time football is all about, and with Leach, that may well be achieved, returning the Terps to the level of the Jim Tatum era (a time, I may add, when Maryland and Missouri faced each other several times and the Tigers never beat the Terps). Maryland fans have this thought that you can't succeed in college football without selling your soul, and I think Leach will be able to prove that's nonsense.

Posted by: VPaterno | December 22, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

All this spinning is making me dizzy. Do you really think we were on national TV because of us, or was it our opponents? Barno, we will have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: CYork1 | December 22, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

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