Friday, August 20, 2010

Future of Football

Now that the University of Maryland has appointed a new president to take over from Dan Mote the search for a new athletic director can begin in earnest. Wallace Loh, provost at the University of Iowa was hired as the president earlier this week. Clearly Loh comes from a school where football is king and Kirk Ferentz gets paid more than any other state employee in Iowa at over $3 million per year. That doesn’t mean that Loh has that kind of commitment to the football program at Maryland and the money isn’t present to reach that level regardless. It is an open question just what level of interest Loh has in promoting the sports programs at Maryland. Either way at 65 years old it is unlikely that Loh will have a long tenure as president. My feeling is that Loh was hired for his skills in overseeing a budget at the University of Iowa that is over 40% larger than the one at Maryland (embarrassing). Iowa’s endowment is also larger than Maryland’s sad amount. From an academic perspective Iowa is a solid school but I doubt Loh was chosen to help improve the academics given that Maryland is ranked ahead of Iowa in most categories. The improvement of Maryland’s academic rankings has gone very well and continues to build momentum. The budget issues that Maryland is facing are more pressing. Until those are solved and a proper endowment is created it will be tough for the university to jump into the sphere of elite public colleges.

Even though Debbie Yow is now just an unpleasant memory in College Park the ultimatum that she gave football coach Ralph Friedgen at the end of last season probably still stands. If Friedgen goes 3-9, as projected by SI.com then I think he is almost certainly going to retire with a buyout or be fired. I think it would take a miracle for head-coach-in-waiting James Franklin to prove that he actually deserves to be a head coach given that he hasn’t formed a credible case to be offensive coordinator in the last two seasons. If the program suffers another pitiful season there could be drastic changes to the coaching staff regardless of who sits in the AD’s chair by the end of the season. I would assume a nationwide search for a replacement coach would be a near certainty. What is less clear is what resources the new AD would be armed with to lure a high caliber coach head coach.

 

If the team has a decent to good season then that muddies the water considerably. That makes the likelihood of Friedgen serving out his contract much higher. Franklin’s status as a replacement depends heavily on the success of his offense this season. His recruiting prowess is much more myth than reality so it isn’t as if he has a top recruiting class as a Paul Hewitt like ace in the hole. The future of Maryland football may be decided on the field this year.

 

Tough break that linebacker Ben Pooler tore a knee ligament and is done for the season. This is the second knee injury for Pooler and makes a strong position much weaker. Pooler was a valuable reserve last year when Demetrius Hartsfield broke his hand. Now the backups are largely untested.