Maryland Fires Football Coach Ralph Friedgen, Begins Search for Successor

The University of Maryland fired football coach Ralph Friedgen after an 8-4 campaign and a bowl invitation in his 10th season leading his alma mater.

Friedgen will be paid about $2 million in guaranteed compensation and benefits remaining on his contract, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said. Friedgen will coach the Terrapins Dec. 29 in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington.

The College Park, Maryland, school will begin a national search for Friedgen’s successor, Anderson said today at a news conference broadcast on the Terrapins’ website.

“I no longer believe allowing a head coach to enter the final year of his contract was the best financial decision for our department or for moving our football program from good to great,” Anderson said.

Friedgen, 63, is 74-50 since becoming the Terrapins’ coach in 2001.

His only Atlantic Coast Conference championship came during his first season, when Maryland went 10-2 before falling 56-23 to Florida in the Orange Bowl. He was named the consensus national coach of the year that season, and earned ACC coaching honors both that season and for the current one.

Military Bowl Invite

After a 2-10 finish a year ago, Maryland rebounded this season to earn an invitation to the Military Bowl, where the Terrapins will take on East Carolina. Friedgen has taken the team to a bowl game seven times, going 4-2 heading into this year’s contest.

James Franklin, who in February 2009 was named the eventual successor to Friedgen, on Dec. 18 accepted a job as the head coach at Vanderbilt, eliminating a $1 million payment that would have been owed to Franklin if Maryland did not promote him by January 2012.

“We wish James well in that new challenge, but that decision changed our coaching and recruiting infrastructure,” Anderson said today. “With no offensive coordinator and chief recruiter, and the likelihood that several more assistant coaches would be leaving our staff, and with coach Friedgen’s contract coming to an end, it became clear that we needed to make a well-thought-out business decision.”

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is considered a top candidate for the job, several news organizations, including the Baltimore Sun, reported.

“No candidate has been contacted by either me or my staff,” Anderson said.

Leach was fired by Texas Tech in December 2009 following allegations that he mistreated a player who was diagnosed with a concussion.

Leach’s Suspension

The school initially suspended Leach after a complaint by the family of wide receiver Adam James, who twice was allegedly kept in small, dark spaces because Leach thought he was faking a concussion. James is the son of Craig James, a former National Football League player who is a college football analyst for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN.

Texas Tech said the event led to “irreconcilable differences” with Leach that prompted his firing. He left the school with an 84-43 record, 10 straight winning seasons and five bowl victories.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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