Friday, September 30, 2011

Edsall stumbles Friedgen piles on

After the debacle against Temple head coach Randy Edsall made his first major gaffe by suggesting that the football program was undergoing a major restructuring that would take time. To be fair he never said the words "rebuilding" as some had suggested but it was a foolish thing to say on the heels of such a shambolic performance by his team in losing 38-7 at home. Edsall has taken some thinly veiled shots at his predecessor since he took over the job earlier this year. It seems fairly obvious that if the program was in great shape then Ralph Friedgen would still be the head coach. The ongoing academic problems that have resulted in a loss of scholarships due to low graduation rates and the careless violations of NCAA rules that resulted in lost practice time this season are just two examples of some of the problems at the end of Friedgen's tenure at Maryland. In the last two bowl games under Friedgen there were multiple players suspended for either a violation of team rules or academic ineligibility. The graduation rates were declining steadily and a significant number of players had to leave the team due to academic problems. To be fair the erstwhile AD Debbie Yow didn't help by slashing the academic support staff but Friedgen was the head coach and the failings are ultimately his responsibility.

The massive marketing campaign centered around the new uniforms probably inflated expectations too much for a squad with some talent but lacking the depth to contend for an ACC title. The play of stars like QB Danny O'Brien and LB Kenny Tate has been disappointing and certainly not good enough to overcome a lack of quality backups and mediocre starters who are playing because there is no talent behind them. To some extent Edsall is right, this program was in need of more repair than the smoke-and-mirrors 9 win season last year would indicate. While there are legitimate questions regarding Edsall's choice of coaching assistants and skepticism as to his ability to recruit elite players he will need time to institute his brand of football at Maryland. It appears the journey will be more tumultuous than Edsall and some fans would like. Even if the program is in worse shape than Edsall is letting on it was a misstep to characterize a loss, even as bad a stumble as the trouncing by Temple, as indicative of more systematic problems in the program as Edsall clearly suggested in his comments earlier this week. Getting past Edsall's law and order demeanor I thought he was more media savvy than to make such a blunder and he has taken a public relations beating as a result.

About the only person who came off worse in the media this week was Ralph Friedgen. On a Baltimore radio show the former coach just couldn't help himself and once again decided to take the low road while still collecting money from his eight year contract extension he signed in 2004. He said that he "burned" his Maryland diploma and "could[sec] care less about Maryland" while flying his Georgia Tech flag outside his house. His petty comments were reminder of the significant negatives of Ralph Friedgen. The petulance and arrogance of those statements are exhibits as to how he ended up alienating large segments of fans and local high school coaches before he was let go. Maryland did well by Friedgen but Friedgen did even better by Maryland. There were no schools offering head coaching jobs before he arrived in College Park. Since signing his eight year extension in 2004 and collecting over $12 million in salary and benefits Friedgen coached Maryland to a 44-42 overall record and an abysmal 24-32 record in the ACC. The Terps never finished better than tied for second place in the Atlantic division and finished in the top 25 just once. For that performance I think Friedgen was paid handsomely. I can understand Fridge being prickly about the implications of Edsall's comments but he has done himself no favors by making crass comments about his alma mater. He has the right to be bitter if he wants but he could have at least shown some dignity. Pity he couldn't even do that.

1 comment:

Mike Aburachis said...

Edsall isn't media savvy. He insulted most of the parents in America when he explained his no-hats in the team house rule by saying "his parents raised him right."

I think many alumni agreed it was time for a change in the program with Fridge's end of contract status and age. That said, we were seduced by the possibilities of Mike Leach and our administration pulled a bait-and-switch and delivered Agent Van Alden.