Tag:Mike Leach
Posted on: December 31, 2010 11:36 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: TicketCity Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Why to watch: Why, Northwestern is playing in the Cotton Bowl for the first time in the program's history! Sure, by that we're referring to the venue and not the bowl game itself (that's in Cowboys Stadium) but this is Northwestern's first game in Dallas, period. Isn't that enough? Doesn't history mean anything to you? Of course, it would be nice if Dan Persa -- the man who almost single-handedly put Northwestern in the postseason to begin with -- were healthy and able to play, but a fully Persa'd Northwestern team wouldn't have slid all the way to the TicketCity Bowl. As for Texas Tech , the nation can witness Tommy Tuberville and his neutered, lobotomized version of Mike Leach 's Air Raid offense. That won't be fun, per se, but not every play's a comedy.

Keys to victory for Northwestern: The Wildcats lost a lot when Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles' tendon, but heart appears to be the chief missing ingredient. Even though Persa never played a snap of defense (to the best of our knowledge anyway but you really can't rule this out), when he was out, Northwestern began giving up points in bunches. Illinois roughed the Cats up to the tune of 48 points at Wrigley Field, then Wisconsin rolled up 70 points in three quarters -- the fourth was nothing but random Wisconsin students from the crowd taking snaps on first down, then the Badgers punting on second down out of pity. If Northwestern wants even a fighting chance, it'll need to get its mojo back first. That means Evan Watkins will need to put together a good game under center, and tailback Mike Trumpy will probably have to get 100 yards or close to it just to keep the Northwestern defense off the field. Also, not giving up like 50 points would be ideal.

Keys to victory for Texas Tech: Obviously, step one is getting Taylor Potts off and running (or throwing, anyway); Potts is something of a relic of a bygone era considering his upbringing in the Leach offense, but he still threw nearly 500 times for 31 scores this year. Most of those scores went to Lyle Leong , who is downright lethal in the red zone: 13 of his 17 touchdown catches came in the red zone, with three more coming within 26 yards. MORE OF THAT PLEASE, obviously, but if Northwestern sells out to limit Leong's availability like Oklahoma , Oklahoma State , and Texas all did (all Tech losses), Potts is going to have to figure out how to spread the wealth successfully between the 20s and in the red zone. He did that against Baylor, so it's not as if this is an impossible task.

The TicketCity Bowl is like: Church. You may not enjoy it, but that's not the point and it never was to begin with. This is the first game of the New Year, kicking off at noon on the East Coast and in the morning everywhere else in the States, so odds are that most people watching the game are going to be wishing they were still in bed. Ah, but this is the institution you worship, this combat on this sacred acre of grass, and if anything's going to drag you out of bed with a brain still spitting up champagne and gasping for air, this is it. Get up, get in your seat, and get back to the real world as you watch the first snap of 2011.

Posted on: December 31, 2010 12:04 pm
 

Leach interviews with Maryland 'went well'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We're only two days removed from Ralph Friedgen's final game at Maryland, a 51-20 throttling of East Carolina in the Military Bowl, and it seems as though Maryland is on the verge of finding its next head coach.  Mike Leach had been on campus both Wednesday and Thursday, looking around and interviewing with both athletic director Kevin Anderson and school president Wallace Loh.

While the Baltimore Sun say that no offer has been extended to Leach as of yet, according to the Washington Post the interviews "went well," and a report from College Football Talk says that an offer "could and should" be extended to Leach before the weekend is over, and he "appears to be the front runner" at the moment.

Which means that we may be only a few days away from everybody's favorite pirate returning to the sidelines.

Of course, Leach's name isn't the only one that has come up in connection with the Maryland job.  While he may be considered the odds on favorite to land the gig at this point, names like Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin and Randy Edsall (is there a coaching vacancy in which Edsall's name doesn't come up?) are also considered candidates for the job.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: December 29, 2010 10:06 am
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Military Bowl

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 28, 2010 9:30 pm
 

Gus Malzahn's name popping up in rumors again

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Poor Auburn fans.  They thought they were out of the woods.  Earlier this month offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was reportedly very close to accepting an offer to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt before ultimately deciding to accept a raise and contract extension to stay at Auburn.  This caused Auburn fans to wipe the sweat off their brow, yell "War Eagle" and give each other high fives.

Start sweating again, Auburn fans.
Comcast SportsNet's Chick Hernandez reports that Maryland's athletic director Kevin Anderson and part of his search committee have met with several candidates for the position of Maryland's Head Football Coach.
Hernandez reports that the committee has met with Mike Leach, who Anderson mentioned in his press conference announcing Ralph Friedgen's buy-out, June Jones, the current head coach of SMU, and Gus Malzhan, the offensive coordinator at Auburn.  Both Jones and Malzhan are coaching their respective teams in upcoming bowl games.

Jones, who did interview with Maryland, has already turned down the chance to take the job.  According to his agent Leigh Steinberg, Jones is just TOO GOOD OF A HUMAN BEING to leave SMU right now, even though they offered an apparent pay raise.  Which means that Maryland's offer just wasn't enough.

Of course, to pry Malzahn away from Auburn, any offer Maryland makes will have to be considerable as well.  After all, that extension Malzahn signed will pay him seven figures.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see how GOOD OF A HUMAN BEING Malzahn is.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:42 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 3:44 pm
 

Friedgen out at Maryland, will coach bowl game

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Monday, Maryland made it all official: Ralph Friedgen is done at Maryland.

Odd timing to remove the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year after a six-win turnaround that took the Terps from the bottom of the conference to competing for division titles.  But when athletic director Kevin Anderson addressed the media on Monday, he said it was time for the program to go "from good to great."

Effective January 2, 2011, Friedgen's contract will be terminated and the school will buyout the final year of his existing deal.  The buyout will cost the athletic department approximately $2 million in compensation and benefits, all of which will be covered by the athletic department.  Friedgen will coach the team in the final game of the 2010 season against East Carolina in the Military Bowl.  Anderson indicated that a nationwide search for a new coach will begin immediately, and he would like to have Friedgen's successor in place by January 4.  

While multiple reports have denied any contact between Maryland and former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, Anderson did confirm that Leach is on Maryland's list of candidates.  When asked about other potential hires, Anderson did not mention any names specifically and refused to label anyone a "leading candidate."  However, it was interesting to hear that former offensive coordinator James Franklin (now head coach at Vanderbilt) would have been considered for the job - but there would have been no guarantees.

Friedgen, 63, leaves Maryland with a 74-50 record as a head coach.  He had a 4-2 bowl record across ten seasons, and was named ACC Coach of the Year twice.  The Terps will face East Carolina on December 29 in Washington, D.C. for the Military Bowl.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:04 am
 

Report: Ralph Friedgen to coach Maryland in bowl

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
 

Report: Ralph Friedgen refuses to retire

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.

Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:17 pm
 

Leach-to-Maryland speculation picks up steam

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

On its face, Maryland's ouster of Ralph Friedgen doesn't make a lot of sense. The Fridge had just engineered the FBS's second-biggest turnaround to finish a game out of the ACC Atlantic Divison title, there was no longer any hurry to clear his office out for coach-in-waiting James Franklin after Franklin took the Vanderbilt job, and you'd think being an alum and the guy who dragged the Terps out of their '90s doldrums would have earned Friedgen some slack.

It didn't make much sense ... until the whispers surfaced throughout Friday and Saturday that Mike Leach was likely to become the next man-in-charge in College Park. Those whispers gained even more credence Sunday when the Washington Post reported that an attempt to sign Leach was all but a certainty:
Maryland is expected to try to hire former Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach as head football coach once the school announces Ralph Friedgen’s departure after a 10-year tenure, according to three sources familiar with the situation.

There is mutual interest between Leach and Maryland, according to three sources, two of whom are close to Maryland and one of whom is close to Leach. Leach is said to be very interested in the job. He has a strong relationship with Kevin Plank , a former Maryland football player who sits on the school’s board of trustees and whose apparel company, Under Armour, is the outfitter for the school’s athletic teams.
With all due respect to the good work Friedgen did with the shambles of a program he inherited 10 years ago, if the Terps legitimately have the choice between the Fridge and Leach -- and Leach's willingness to lobby for nearly any job that came open this fall suggests they do -- then it's not really much of a choice. Maryland and Texas Tech are schools with roughly similar historical profiles, though Tech's presence in the rugged Big 12 South rather than the ACC means Leach arguably had something of the harder job; from 2002 to 2009 Leach never failed to win fewer than eight games, while Friedgen only reached that benchmark three seasons in the last seven.

There's also this, from the Post report:
Season ticket sales have declined for five straight seasons. The school fell more than $500,000 short of season ticket sales projections in each of the past two seasons. And only once this season – despite a successful 8-4 record – did Maryland fill Byrd Stadium to 75 percent capacity.
If the Terps now have the cash to buy out Friedgen they didn't a year ago, and they're not scared away by the Leach-Tech lawsuit still due to have its day in court, it wouldn't make much sense not to make this move. We're not yet in the stage where it's "just a matter of time" (the notoriously unshy Leach has yet to publicly announce his interest), but at this point it's hard to find any indications it won't happen sooner rather than later.

 
 
 
 
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