Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Notes on Fridge

The Baltimore Sun has an article that undermines the Washington Post story that money will not be an issue in buying out Ralph Friedgen's $4 million contract. According to Tom McMillen who is on the Board of Regents there would have to be an "awfully compelling case" to spend over $5 million on a coaching change in this economic climate. With the University suffering painful budget cuts it might not be politically viable to have the athletic department borrow money from the University endowment. Taking money from the endowment during lean economic times because the athletic director has made decisions that have blown up in her face is absurd, especially if that person gets to keep her job in the process.

Another interesting tidbit in the article is that after last season's 8-5 record a number of football assistant coaches felt like they were owed bonuses based on their contracts. The athletic department apparently disagreed and refused to pay them the bonus they claimed they were owed. I have not seen the contracts so it is impossible for me to say who was right but it is another indication of how poorly the athletic department runs things that coaches feel the need to hire a lawyer.

The Baltimore Sun article seems to have better sources than the usual anonymous source that the Washington Post seems to be using with regularity these days. If the Sun has a better handle on this story, and I suspect they do, then Friedgen might not be as close to getting fired as it seemed on Sunday. My guess at the moment is that Friedgen will have to make numerous staff changes to appease Debbie Yow but that in the end he'll probably keep his job for another season. I would guess in that scenario that offensive coordinator James Franklin would also keep his job.

Borrowing money to buyout Friedgen and Franklin, who are becoming the Abbot and Costello of Maryland football, presents problems from an economic standpoint but then also requires the AD to hire a whole new staff that will probably make just as much as this one. Keeping both Friedgen and Franklin would also present its challenges because you have a head coach who is in effect a lame duck and a coach-in-waiting who seems to be on his way out. What recruit would sign with Maryland given all the uncertainty. The irony is that the Franklin deal was supposed to address those continuity issues but now seems to have only clouded the issue.

I'll add John Feinstein's comments on the coaching situations at Maryland and Virginia in the Washington Post:

And yet, in the euphoria that came with moderate success, both schools spent much too much money expanding stadiums that are much too big with far more luxury boxes than they can reasonably hope to sell on a regular basis. You don't build stadiums or arenas based on how many tickets you expect to sell in your best season; you build them based on how many you expect to sell in an average season....

Remarkably, athletic directors rarely take any criticism when specific teams falter under their watch. Yow hired Ron Vanderlinden, who was a bust. She was just about ordered to hire Friedgen and took every bow possible for his success. Then, when the program slipped, she went out of the way to commit $1 million to undermining Friedgen.

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