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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

What James Franklin's interest in Vanderbilt means for Maryland

By Eric Prisbell

So, here we are, in the middle of December and at a critical juncture with Maryland football. James Franklin, Maryland’s offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting, is one of two finalists for the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, a source familiar with the details of the search told me Wednesday. Stanford offensive coordinator Greg Roman is believed to be the other finalist. It is uncertain whether David Williams, Vanderbilt's vice chancellor of athletics, will add other names to his short list of finalists; Tom Dienhart, the national college football writer for Rivals.com, is reporting that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has a second interview today.

For those who expected the preparation for the Military Bowl to be the dominant story line this month, welcome to the coaching contract duel inside Gossett Team House. Coach Ralph Friedgen wants an extension -- like, yesterday -- and makes that clear. If Friedgen received one, Franklin's coach-in-waiting agreement would go up in flames -- so to speak, or maybe literally -- and he would not become head coach in 2012, as was expected when the agreement was made. So Franklin is interviewing -- and interviewing quite well, I'm told -- with the folks at Vanderbilt.

If Franklin is offered the job – no indication of that at this point -- we can then begin to get answers about the future of this program. Since Friedgen has openly said he would like to coach beyond 2011 – the final year of his contract – would Franklin take the Vanderbilt job, believing that his chances of being the head coach at Maryland in 2012 are diminished? Does Kevin Anderson, Maryland’s first-year athletic director, respond by assuring Franklin that he will be the head coach in 2012? And if so, where would that leave Friedgen, who has been telling high school prospects that he plans to coach for the majority of their college careers? And where does all this leave the yet-to-be-completed recruiting class?

There is also the issue of the $1 million Franklin is guaranteed if he remains at Maryland and is not named head coach by January 2012. That is not an insurmountable price tag – surely not if an apparel company executive wants to step in – but it is at least something to consider for a program that continues to fall short of season ticket sales projections.

Franklin is the program’s best recruiter; his pupil, quarterback Danny O’Brien, is the cornerstone of the program. But it’s Friedgen who just won ACC coach of the year honors for a second time. And it’s Franklin who has yet to coach a game. The fan base, diminished as it is, remains divided.

For 22 months, since Franklin was appointed Friedgen’s eventual successor, the question has been: Ralph or James? After 22 months, everything could be coming to a boil very soon and that seminal question will need to be answered by a first-year athletic director who needs to carefully untangle the coach-in-waiting deal one clause at a time.

By Eric Prisbell  | December 9, 2010; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Football, Ralph Friedgen  
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Next: After two in-person interviews, Franklin could hear from Vanderbilt on Friday

Comments

I hope Franklin gets the job.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | December 9, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This promises real trouble for the FB program. However deserving, a long term contract for Coach Friedgen is a gamble because of his age and weight. I'm no physician, but it's clear that a head coach is subject to extraordinary pressures. Add those to age and weight increases greatly the risk of heart attack and stroke. Coach Friedgen needs somehow to chill and UMd must carefully assess his risks before offering anything more than a two year contract.

Posted by: AncientTerp | December 9, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

TAKE THE JOB FRANKLIN

WE DON'T WANT YOU AS THE NEXT COACH

Posted by: DaveLopan | December 9, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

(sung to the classic tune, Mrs. Robinson...)

And here's to you, Mr. Anderson
Terp fans hope you know more than you really do (Wo, wo, wo)
Don't F things up please, Mr. Anderson
Dr. Loh holds a place for those who fail to make hay
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Posted by: MerlinTerps | December 9, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Divided? Who are you kidding?

Posted by: Jurgensen9 | December 9, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

What Terp fans want to see the day when James Franklin is Maryland's head coach? Recruiting coordinator, sure, but head coach....I think it's pretty lopsided on that one. Another instance of Mr. Prisbell basing his writing on his perceptions instead of facts.

It's shame this didn't happen a few weeks ago, because Anderson could have used the $1mil to top Debbie Yow's bribe of Champs Sports Bowl officials.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 9, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Simple solution: If Franklin is hired by Vandy or walks in 2012, Locksley should be available. He has two consecutive 1-11 seasons at New Mexico. This season should be his last. He is without a doubt, an equal to Franklin in recruiting the area, if not better.

Posted by: aviscardo | December 9, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

But would you want Mike Locksley?

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/474222-unm-football-10-reasons-why-mike-locksley-should-get-fired

http://www.sbnation.com/ncaa-football/2010/12/2/1851524/mike-locksley-new-mexico-coach-return-2011

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | December 9, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Don't let the door hit you in the rear James.

Good luck.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | December 9, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Yow, Anderson and Fridge should give Franklin Letters of Recommendation.

Concerns over Fridge's weight, health and recruiting are valid. Isn't Franklin the source of reports about Friedgen's bowel sounds interrupting conversation with recruits over lunch? What an impression that must have made!

I'm OK with Fridge serving out his contract, but not with a premature renewal. Lets see what funds are available in 2012 from the ACC-ESPN deal inked a few months ago, and open HC recruiting to everyone available at the time.

Posted by: RITerp | December 9, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Paging Mike Leach. Will Mr. Leach please pick up the red phone.

Posted by: rdondero123 | December 9, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Paging Mike Leach. Will Mr. Leach please pick up the red phone.

Posted by: rdondero123 | December 9, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"Divided? Who are you kidding?"

It's true. Some people want Fridge out and Franklin in. Some people want both out.

Posted by: mkw5 | December 9, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It's true. Some people want Fridge out and Franklin in. Some people want both out.

Posted by: mkw5 | December 9, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see a fan message board thread that has more than a dozen comments supporting Franklin as HC. Sure, there are plenty who'd like to see both gone, but the number of fans who'd lilke Franklin as HC in 2012 is miniscule.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 9, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

This promises real trouble for the FB program. However deserving, a long term contract for Coach Friedgen is a gamble because of his age and weight. I'm no physician, but it's clear that a head coach is subject to extraordinary pressures. Add those to age and weight increases greatly the risk of heart attack and stroke. Coach Friedgen needs somehow to chill and UMd must carefully assess his risks before offering anything more than a two year contract.

Posted by: AncientTerp | December 9, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Do our fans really not remember/notice that Friedgen has lost well over 100 lbs and continues to lose weight?

I know Redskins fans have the shortest memories on the face of the earth, but c'mon Terps fans, we aren't really this forgetful are we?

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Barno - he's lost weight, but he's still obese.

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 9, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Barno - he's lost weight, but he's still obese.

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 9, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Let Franklin go to Vanderbilt and be a cellar dweller in the SEC. If Franklin leaves, hire Towson head coach Rob Ambrose to be the offensive coordinator. Ambrose was previously the OC at UConn before taking over at Towson and is considered an excellent coach with quarterbacks, plus he is only 40 years old.

Posted by: djdavew2002 | December 9, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Let Franklin go to Vanderbilt and be a cellar dweller in the SEC. If Franklin leaves, hire Towson head coach Rob Ambrose to be the offensive coordinator. Ambrose was previously the OC at UConn before taking over at Towson and is considered an excellent coach with quarterbacks, plus he is only 40 years old.

Posted by: djdavew2002 | December 9, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Sirpelleas, according to the CDC, a third of Americans are "obese."

All I'm saying is people should give Fridge credit for losing 100+ pounds, acknowledge that he is clearly working on it, and stop attacking him for something that he worked very hard on the last 2 years. Instead of pretending--or in some cases forgetting--that he's serious about this.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

some politicians in washington are also working on the deficit.

Posted by: apeirond | December 9, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Barno1, do you not realize that RF has gained much, if not every pound, of that weight back? Do you think he's really still on his Medifast diet? He' did a great job losing the 105 pounds and then he did what most people do, he gained weight again. Not a shot at him, it is what it is!!

Posted by: BigDog1231 | December 9, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how much this is going to affect Franklin's preparation for the military bowl. Obviously the Vanderbilt job is his top priority, so i hope it gets resolved soon.

Also, are we going to have to go through this every year with Franklin? It seems pretty obvious that Franklin is just using UMD as a launching pad for his career.

Posted by: Tim584 | December 9, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

BigDog, you're an insane if you think Friedgen has gained every pound back from his diet. How is it even possible for people to be this stupid? Take a look at the man, his belly is a fraction of what it once was.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 9, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Barno - yeah, losing 100 pounds is a good thing for sure. I'm with you on that. Hopefully he'll keep it going.

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 9, 2010 7:10 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, while UMD is not a plum HC job, it is a very good football HC job (way better than Vandy that's for sure). 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 7:46 PM | Report abuse

C'mon people! Look at photos of RF in the MediFast ads which claim he was back to his playing weight, and compare them to a recent photo. The stress of the 2-10 season put every one of those pounds back on the Fridge. Not a healthy way to deal with stress, but I have to say I'm not surprised.

Posted by: RITerp | December 9, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Let James Franklin go. His offense has been pretty impotent against big programs.

Perhaps, we give John "Chucky" Gruden a call and bring him in.

Posted by: mi6-007 | December 9, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

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