Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: December 29, 2010 10:06 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Basics: Maryland (8-4) takes on East Carolina (6-6) in the Military Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
Why to watch: Well certainly you will want to tune in if you are a fan of Ralph Friedgen. The two-time ACC Coach of the Year will have the Maryland headset on one more time before having his contract terminated just after the new year. It has been a move that has confused many Maryland fans, especially after Friedgen helped orchestrate one of the biggest win-turnarounds in school history. But athletic director Kevin Anderson clearly has a different picture for the future of Maryland football, one that does not include the Fridge. East Carolina is glad to be bowling in their first year under head coach Ruffin McNeill. A former assistant under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, McNeill brought a staff that likes to put big numbers up on the scoreboard. Plus, it is 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon - what else are you going to watch?
Keys to victory for Maryland: With offensive coordinator James Franklin on his way to become the head coach at Vanderbilt, it will be interesting to see if there is any effect on the Maryland offense. Much of freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien's development this season has been credited to Franklin, and now the Terps will try and get their third bowl win since 2006 without their primary play-caller.
Also, the only way that East Carolina keeps the game close is in the event of a shoot-out. If Maryland's defense can come up with stops the way they did against NC State in the regular season finale, they can keep East Carolina's offense from putting up those basketball score numbers from the end of the season.
Keys to victory for East Carolina: The Pirates have to force Maryland to score by putting up points themselves. At this point in the season, it may be too late to ask the 118th ranked defense to make stops, so you might as well look to quarterback Dominique Davis to orchestrate some big-time touchdown drives. Davis was fourth in the nation in passing yards in 2010, but he will need one of his best performances of the season against the Maryland secondary.
If East Carolina's defense were to focus on one major goal - it should be to shut down Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith is obviously O'Brien's favorite target, particularly in big games. Shut Smith down, and at least you save yourself the chance of being burned for 224 receiving yards like NC State.
The Military Bowl is like: A really awkward family reunion. Maryland is going to trot out there with a departing coaching staff and an athletic director who seems far more fixated on finding a replacement than getting a bowl victory. The Terps will have to face Ruffin McNeill, a former assistant of current Maryland coaching candidate Mike Leach. ECU runs an offense with an obvious Texas Tech influence - are the Terps getting a quick look at the future of their own program? Probably not, but we will see how the next weeks transpire in College Park.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:04 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Updating an earlier report, it's now known who, precisely, will be coaching the Maryland Terrapins in their Military Bowl appearance against East Carolina on December 29. According to the Baltimore Sun, it'll be Ralph Friedgen himself, even though Friedgen is facing an imminent firing after being told he would not be coaching Maryland in 2011 and reportedly refusing to retire.
If Maryland does indeed allow Friedgen to coach out the end of the year, it'll be the first noble gesture toward him on the school's part since word first came down that his career at Maryland would be ending. Friedgen, as a longtime ambassador for (and alumnus of) Maryland, at least deserves one last chance to lead his team on his own terms instead of some unceremonious dump just weeks after being named ACC Coach of the Year.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Maryland's not exactly facing stiff competition for Mike Leach, who's reportedly Maryland's first choice to replace Friedgen. The ex-Texas Tech head coach has been out of the college football world since being fired as Red Raiders head coach last December, so he's under no current obligation from any team and will likely remain available for Maryland until after the Terps' bowl game.
At any rate, whether Maryland wins or loses against ECU, Friedgen deserves a hero's sendoff from his players -- right down to being carried off the field on their shoulders. He's lost over 100 pounds over the last two years, after all; that's a lot of prep work for just that one moment. Friedgen's reportedly an emotional guy, so we'll all know exactly how much the moment means to him when it's all said and done. We can debate for days whether Maryland is right to send Friedgen packing -- it's unpopular, but obviously, this isn't a decision a BCS school makes recklessly -- but if Maryland unconditionally allows Friedgen to coach through the bowl game, it'll at least be a step toward grace and the right message to send to the returning players.
Posted on: December 19, 2010 11:59 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
As reported earlier, Ralph Friedgen has been informed that he will not be returning to the Maryland Terrapins as head coach in 2011. That leaves Friedgen with just a couple options: retire, or get fired. The only difference would be a matter of buyout terms and public civility.
Well, according to the Baltimore Sun, Friedgen's not in the mood to acquiesce; he's reportedly refusing to retire, which would appear to force Maryland's hand. A firing's always uglier than a retirement, even one that's forced, but if Maryland's dead-set on ending the Friedgen era then the ends'll justify whatever means are necessary.
Now, that supposedly means the Mike Leach era is at hand, and now the real question is what this does to Maryland's Military Bowl appearance on December 29. Does Maryland fire Friedgen as of December 30 and give him one last hurrah (along with his buyout)? Does Maryland fire him straight away and install defensive coordinator Don Brown as the interim head coach? Or, if the deal with Leach is as imminent as the Washington Post report suggests, is the Dread Pirate Leach crashing the Military Bowl?
And last, between Vanderbilt taking Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin (which likely started this whole Friedgen mess) and Florida hiring Will Muschamp from Texas, isn't it time to assume that declaring an assistant coach the "Head Coach In Waiting" isn't that wise of an idea? It makes the assistant that much more valuable without actually obligating him to a thing at his current school, it makes him a more attractive hire for a school trying to make a splash, and his inevitable departure creates even more havoc than if he were just, y'know, an assistant. It's probably safe to say Maryland and Texas didn't exactly think this cunning plan all the way through, and now here both schools are, surrounded by more questions about their programs' futures than they'd have imagined just two weeks ago.
Tags: ACC, Big 12, Don Brown, Florida, James Franklin, Maryland, Maryland Coaching Rumors, Maryland Coaching Search, Maryland Mike Leach, Mike Leach, Mike Leach Maryland, Mike Leach Rumors, Military Bowl, Ralph Friedgen, Ralph Friedgen Fired, Ralph Friedgen Resigns, Ralph Friedgen Retirement, Ralph Friedgen Won't Retire, SEC, Texas, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp