Substantiated rumors are shooting around the web that Ralph Friedgen will be pushed out of the Maryland football program and will be replaced by offensive genius Mike Leach. Despite being the most successful coach in Maryland football history and being named that ACC Coach of the Year twice, including this year, Friedgen will not be allowed to finish his contract and retire next year.
In a world spinning into irrationality I am going to make a call for sanity; Mike Leach should allow for Friedgen to finish his contract and accept a position as offensive coordinator and associate head coach for the Maryland football program for one year.
At first glance this might not seem like such a “rational” thing to do. Why should Leach waste one year as an offensive coordinator when he clearly has the pedigree and resume to be a head coach?
The first, and possibly most important point, is that Leach was burned at Texas Tech in much the same way as Friedgen is being burned now. Leach was tremendously successful at Texas Tech and put the school on the map, so to speak.
Yet, despite over a decade of hard-work and dedication, despite enjoying a lot of respect among fans and fueling ticket sales, Mike Leach was fired over a relatively minor incident involving student punishments and a rift with administration.
Now, Friedgen stands to lose his job despite enjoying similar success at Maryland. Why would Leach ever want to inflict the same pain on Friedgen as has been inflicted on him in the past? Besides doing something honorable would go a long way in rebuilding Leach's tarnished reputation.
Second, allowing Friedgen to finish his contract will be good for Maryland football, and in the long run Leach's own career. Most likely Maryland will have to pay Friedgen a two million dollar buy-out for his contract anyways, so financially it makes sense to retain his services for one more year.
Allowing for a hand-off between Friedgen and Leach will smooth out the transition among players, alumni, and donors. Whenever a good coach gets pushed out like this players, fans, and other people associated with the program are upset and that could generate ill feelings towards Leach before he ever even sets foot in College Park, despite having done nothing wrong himself.
Meanwhile, Friedgen could handle the administrative side of being a head coach while giving Leach total control over the offense, which will ensure that the Air Raid system gets installed quickly and effectively.
Installing the innovative “Air Raid” offensive system will take considerable time and effort to install, so why wouldn't Leach want to take a year to focus on training the the offensive unit, and particularly the quarterback and receivers? Further, Leach will need to train an assistant to help with offensive play calling.
Letting Friedgen finish will also allow Leach to take over Friedgen's considerable recruiting pipelines. Plus, Leach will have more time to spend on the road recruiting. That pay-off could be felt for years to come.
All in all, allowing the ACC Coach of the Year to finish his contract and end his career at Maryland honorably, instead of the current snafu that is brewing, is the best choice for the Terrapins and college football as a whole.
Both Maryland and Coach Leach can prove that they are different and have a higher sense of honor them the typical profit first football programs.
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