There are quite a few parallels to draw between Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis and Maryland Terrapins coach Ralph Friedgen.
Minimized girth aside, they are both renowned offensive game planners and straight-from-the-hip shooters.
Both are painstakingly tasked with keeping less-than-respected football programs nationally relevant.
But what separates them, aside from conference affiliation and media scrutiny, is the all-important confidence of their supporters.
Notre Dame boosters and alumni are shamed by Charlie Weis.
They are shamed because of his record, shamed because of his arrogance coming into the job, and shamed because they made their racism obvious under the guise of winning when they replaced Tyrone Willingham with a guy who was far inferior as a recruiter.
Friedgen? He is beloved in College Park.
No one cares about his losing ways. No one cares that he can’t mine the minimal football talent a state away from Penn State and West Virginia.
People do care that he is an affable and responsible steward of the program with NFL connections.
And that's why he deserves stay.
It's not because his leadership and message to current and potential players hasn’t run its course, but because Maryland is unlikely to find someone in his mold to do a better job than he.
Like Weis, Friedgen had the brunt of his success with the players assembled by his predecessor, but that doesn’t mean Friedgen is incapable of bringing in five-star talent.
Look no further than the high draft stocks of Shawne Merriman, Vernon Davis, and Darrius Heyward-Bey to evidence Friedgen's ability to bring in talent. He may not bring in the best teams, but he certainly can bring in the NFL film cameras to chronicle individual pro days at Byrd Stadium.
Maryland would be foolish to release an alumnus with the connections and coaching acumen of Ralph Friedgen.
To be clear: Ralph Friedgen doesn’t need Maryland.
There are assistant coaching gigs in the NFL, and head coaching jobs in the college ranks that are waiting for his departure should he be let go or decide to exit.
And like Gary Williams, most of the Terrapin boosters and alumni support the program, not because of the team’s potential for success, but because the coach makes them feel confident that, win or lose, the program is in steady hands.
UMD athletic director Debbie Yow is smart enough to know this, and that’s why you don’t hear the whispers about Friedgen’s job sprinkled throughout local media.
For Friedgen, the adage of never being able to come home again has proven true, but even in the midst of annual struggle, Maryland would be fiscally and socially irresponsible to send their native son away.