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Buying Out Ralph Friedgen Is No Small Bill for Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Ralph Friedgen of the Maryland Terrapins looks on against the Florida State Seminoles on November 22, 2008 at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Jarrett CarterAnalyst INovember 24, 2009

I wrote yesterday that Ralph Friedgen should remain the coach of the Maryland Terrapins football team because he’s brought more recruiting and positive coverage than any coach since the days of Bobby Ross.

While most would say his time as a game planner and motivator has worn thin, the invoice for his dismissal says otherwise:

A buyout of any sort—even in the form of a loan from the school’s endowment—would raise questions in the current economic climate, said former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, a member of the Board of Regents, which governs the University System of Maryland.

“As a normal practice we don’t get involved in the day-to-day,” said McMillen, a former Terrapins basketball star and NBA player. “But as a fiduciary, to take on a $4 million liability plus hiring a new coach? Given the economic times we’re in, there would have to be an awfully compelling case.”

 

Indeed, UMD would have a difficult time justifying to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post why the State of Maryland has to shell out $4 million to buy out Friedgen, $1 million to get rid of his successor James Franklin, and somewhere between $2-4 million to name a suitable replacement.

If there’s anyone who should come under scrutiny for firing, it’s UMD athletic director Debbie Yow. Not because she’s done a particularly bad job, but because her two major money-making programs are annually under fan and media siege for questions about recruiting and how competitive Maryland should be, at least in the ACC.

Both Friedgen and Gary Williams, truth be told, should’ve been fired two years ago. Both were in the throes of underachievement, and both coaches had not legitimate explanation for the sudden downturn.

Sure, there would’ve been brushback from Terrapin Nation, but most fans would rather begin the rebuilding process than wonder every year about what could’ve been, and who they could’ve had besides Teflon Gary and Ralph.

So yeah, Ralph is staying for a while. His contract demands it. But if Maryland was smart, the school would recognize that the architect of these bulletproof contracts is slightly more expendable and consider cutting ties with Debbie Yow.

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