Leach Enters, Friedgen Walks the Plank
By Paul Myerberg // Dec 18, 2010
He’s coming. Prepare yourself. Swab the deck. Raise the sail. Make for open waters. Sharpen your favorite pirate metaphors: Mike Leach might soon be returning to college football, at Maryland of all places, meaning college football is about to get a little more interesting. The big winners here, of course, are the print reporters for The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, who will soon have enough copy to fill columns and columns of space. The big loser: Ralph Friedgen and, in a strange way, the University of Maryland. All’s well that ends well, but the administration should be a little chagrined by how quickly things fell apart.
At the same time, the university should be proud of how it made the best of a bad situation, as well as applauded for not deviating from its chosen path. It’s rare that a coach is forced out after making a six-win improvement over the previous season; it’s rarer still that the conference coach of the year is let loose.
The lesson we take from Friedgen’s departure: it’s not just about wins and losses. That may be the bottom line, but several other factors determine a coach’s success, such as ticket sales, fan support and local interest — the latter manifests itself in money from luxury suite sales and advertising, the lifeblood of any program.
When it came to drumming up interest, Friedgen fell short. He supplied the Maryland program with a much-needed boost earlier in the last decade and brought the team back into the A.C.C. picture after a disastrous 2009 campaign, but it wasn’t quite good enough.
Maryland looks at Leach and pictures a full stadium, packed luxury suites, increased fan support and full coffers. They might also see a more consistent product on the field, which would be nice.
If Maryland does make Leach’s hiring official in the next few days — Leach’s relationship with Under Armour will help the recruitment process — take a look at how Maryland has changed in less than a week: James Franklin, the offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting, leaves for Vanderbilt; after voicing his desire to return in 2011 and beyond, Friedgen is not even given the dreaded vote of confidence before being pushed aside; and the seemingly untouchable Mike Leach may soon join the fold.
Man the torpedoes! I think my pirate metaphors need work.
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Tags: Maryland, Mike Leach, Ralph Friedgen
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