Posted by Chip Patterson
Back in August, I was discussing the upcoming ACC season on a radio program in North Carolina. We were making both humorous and serious predictions when the host looked me in the eye and said, "Ralph Friedgen will not be the coach of the Maryland Terrapins in 2011." I wholeheartedly agreed. After all, he barely survived the axe in 2009 after a 2-10 season and did not make have a lot of drastic changes in the 2010 squad.
Boy were we wrong.
On Tuesday, Friedgen was named the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Media Association. While Maryland has not been the subject of national rankings or widespread public discussion, they have put together a truly historic season. The six-win turnaround to 8-4 in 2010 is the second best win improvement in FBS history. If the Terps win their bowl game, they will be the first team in ACC history to go from two or fewer wins one season to nine the next.
Friedgen will tell you himself the credit belongs to the players, and one player I did not count on in August got his due recognition on Tuesday as well. Freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien was named ACC Rookie of the Year as well, collecting 54 of 61 possible first place votes. His 21 touchdowns ranks for second place in school history, and his 2,257 yards passing are sixth all-time among ACC freshman.
Both Friedgen and O'Brien entered the season with low expectations, and in some cases expectations to fail. But together, along with the rest of the 2010 Maryland team, they ascended to the top of the conference. While they fell one game short of the ACC Atlantic Division title, at least their coach and quarterback will get a little hardware in Charlotte on Friday. After pulling off that kind of turnaround, it is well deserved.