COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There's less of Ralph Friedgen on the Maryland sideline these days, thanks to a diet that has enabled the Terrapins head football coach to drop a whopping 105 pounds.
Friedgen won't say how much he weighed before he began the diet in October, but this much is certain: He was well over 300 pounds and not in a very healthy place.
"A couple of years back I looked into doing lap band surgery, and then a week away I decided not to do it because it would limit what I could eat and how I could eat it," Friedgen said Monday. "But the doctors had told me when things start going bad, being overweight, they're going to go bad fast."
Friedgen knew it was time to get rid of the two extra chins and the massive belly that was making it difficult for him to walk without losing his breath. So he began a diet that provided him with five packaged meals a day and healthy snacks.
"I have this basket in my office, and I basically eat every three hours. I don't know what's in their food, but when I eat it I'm not hungry," he said. "My goal is to go to 150. Whether I can do that or not, I don't know. The more I lose, the harder it gets."
Friedgen has taken the Terrapins to a bowl game in each of the last three years and six of his first eight seasons at his alma mater. But in some circles, his heavy frame was often talked about more than as his coaching skill. Now that Friedgen is only a shell of his former self, his new look was a hot topic at media day Monday.
"A lot of times coaches expect a lot out of their players, but he's really practicing what he preaches as far as dedication, hard work and doing things right," senior quarterback Chris Turner said.
It hasn't been easy for Friedgen, who probably never met a pizza he didn't want to devour.
"There was a time when we were out recruiting, and his stomach let out a growl that was unbelievable," offensive coordinator James Franklin recalled. "But that was early in the process, and I think the body adjusts. He's gotten used to it. This fits his lifestyle, because it's hard to eat healthy on the road. Now he packs the meals in his bag, pulls them out, pops one in his mouth and he's good to go."
The 62-year-old Friedgen isn't at the point where he's ready to try cartwheels. He's still quite large, but there's no question he looks better and, more importantly, feels better.
"The biggest thing I've noticed is I'm more flexible," he said. "I feel energized, and our kids, they're aware of it."
Of course they are. When a guy loses more than 100 pounds, it's tough to overlook.
"He looks real healthy right now and is moving around a lot better than he was before," running back Da'Rel Scott said.
Franklin said: "He's got so much more energy, he feels great. It couldn't be a better situation. I think it's going to help our team. I just think in general it's good for us and good for him personally."
When he came to Maryland as a player in the 1960s, Friedgen had designs on being a quarterback. He never got the chance, in part because he his body developed into that of an offensive lineman. Four decades later, Friedgen may end up looking like a quarterback, after all.
"I'm going to stick with this," he said of the diet, "and see where it goes."