Maryland is coming off a terrible loss to Rutgers last Saturday, and things look very down for the Terps. They are 1-3 heading into conference play, and with the way the ACC is looking, getting a .500 overall record in going to be very difficult. Many Maryland fans are calling for Ralph Friedgen's firing immediately due to the terrible start.
Before I make my argument, there is no doubt that this Ralph Friedgen's worst start as head coach at Maryland. 1-3 in non-conference is terrible, and certainly it should be suggested that his tenure end after this year. But through all of the problems, Ralph Friedgen should remain the head coach, at least through the end of the 2009 season.
Reason #1: Nobody behind him is better.
Because of Maryland's coach-in-waiting scenario, it would need to be James Franklin. Based on his play-calling, he is not ready for the job. He is set to takeover in 2012 once Fridge's contract runs out, and he'll need that time to get ready for the job. Franklin has never been a head coach, so you need to go with Friedgen for now.
Reason #2: The money cost is too much.
The solution of firing everyone and starting over would be a perilous one, and not a smart one in this economy. To buyout Friedgen's contract you would need a spend a few million. If the athletic department wanted to go further, firing Franklin would eventually cost another million dollars due to the coach-in-waiting contract. Plus another million of so would be needed to hire a new head coach after the season. That is at least five million dollars gone, which is money Maryland athletics can't afford to spend during this economy.
Reason #3: Hasn't he earned a chance to repair the season?
No one believes Ralph Friedgen is the best coach in the conference, but it can be said that he has done well with Maryland. This university is not one that can compete for a national championship in football, and some fans need to realize that. The last three years have seen three bowl appearances for Maryland, including two bowl wins and a combined 23-16 record before this season. Before that he won an ACC Championship, granted not with his recruits, but he still did. Most teams in the conference cannot say they have three bowl appearances in a row. Even though some of the seasons have seen terrible losses, Maryland has found a way to bounce back. I'm not saying Friedgen is a great coach, or even a good one, but Maryland has seen some decent success under his tenure, and he deserves at least a chance to repair the season.
Reason #4: The team is young.
A lot of us had high expectations for the season, and quickly they have come crashing down to earth. But take a close look at the team. Yes they have a senior quarterback and an All-ACC running back. But a number of new starters, especially on defense, are on the team. And they teams they have played with the exception of Rutgers were well-established with a number of veterans returning. Obvious Maryland needed to play better, but with new players they need to gel together to be effective.
Reason #5: Maryland is not playing the brunt of the conference.
If there is any chance for Maryland to comeback this season, they have a great conference schedule to play. The three teams they will not play in the ACC are very strong; Miami, UNC, and Georgia Tech. They will still need to play Virginia Tech, Florida State and the rest of the conference, but if Maryland has a chance to get a bowl appearance, this is the schedule to do it against. If Maryland fails, then that can be used against Friedgen. Maryland last year despite losing to MTSU shutout Wake, so you never know what can happen against the ACC.
It may be time after the season to get rid of Ralph Friedgen as Maryland head coach. But it is in Maryland's best interests to keep him in command for the rest of the year. He clearly is not happy with what has been happening and nor is his team. Let's see how Maryland bounces back before we start firing coaches.
(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun)