NCAA FB, Terps

Saying thank you to The Fridge

Coach Ralph Friedgen intensely monitors pregame workouts at Byrd Stadium before the Terps played NC State on November 27, 2010, in College Park, MD. Photo by Patrick Duffy.

Today will most definitely be an emotional day at RFK Stadium. Personally, I’d like to thank Ralph Friedgen for bringing Maryland football back from the dead, and leading us to our 7th bowl appearance in his 10 years as head coach. In the many, many years before he took over the program, the Terps had been to one bowl game. Under Friedgen, the program’s expectations have gone through the roof as Maryland has experienced a success we haven’t seen since the 1980’s. Bobby Ross was the head coach back then, and Maryland football won all the time. Ross’s offensive coordinator was who else, but Ralph Friedgen. When both of those men left, Maryland football spiraled out of control, and a black cloud hovered above Byrd Stadium. Fridge brought the Terps back to relevance, and has set the bar high for football in College Park.

It’s truly sad to see the way Ralph’s departure was handled. We won’t get into AD Kevin Anderson’s ridiculous overreaction to OC James Franklin taking the Vanderbilt job – in my opinion James was a great recruiter but the worst OC in the country. We won’t talk about Mr. Anderson’s lack of integrity as he broke his word when he said back in November that Coach Friedgen would be back to finish his contract in 2011. We also won’t talk about how pitifully disloyal, unprofessional, and how ill prepared both he and new University President Wallace Loh appear, as they dropped the ball on this dismissal. (I know if I were a head coach at Maryland, I’d feel confident about working for those two gentlemen… not really.) No, today is about the Fridge and what he’s done for Maryland. He has run his program the right way, and without controversy. His kids go to class. His kids graduate, and leave as productive members of the community. It’s a credit to the head coach and his staff. While some schools sell their souls to be great, Maryland football did not follow them and fall for the temptation of cheating. Kentucky basketball hired Calipari, a known cheater, just to get back to the top of college basketball, and North Carolina hired John Blake, a known cheater, as an assistant football coach to help them get to the top of the ACC. Both of those men left every job they had in disgrace, and with penalties for their former employers to deal with. Any success either of those two programs experiences is cheap, and extremely hollow. When they win, it doesn’t even count in the eyes of true competitors.

There is great honor in how Ralph handled his program. He won games, awards, and graduated players. He was accessible to the media, to the fans, and to every member of the Terrapin football community. He was a larger than life figure, and he brought back pride, and tradition to the school. A true professional through and through, and ultimately he deserved better treatment from the new administration.

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About Patrick C. Duffy

Patrick Duffy is a Communications/Journalism student at the University of Maryland, University College. I also teach sixth grade English, high school Journalism, and Physical Education. Additionally, I’m the school’s Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach. My work is featured on the Maryland page of Bleacher Report, and has been redistributed by the University of Maryland football and baseball teams.

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