The media looks at a Maryland team with mediocre talent that went 8-4 all while: (1) missing Virginia Tech; (2) not beating a single ranked opponent during the season; (3) going 4-1 in games decided by one score, including squeakers over Duke and Boston College; and (4) being outgained by nine yards per game and says “Coach of the Year!” Maryland’s athletic director looks at the same evidence, combined with the fact that coach-in-waiting James Franklin decided to stop waiting and took the Vandy job, and says “You’re fired.” Is there a better illustration of the uselessness of coach of the year awards than that? They’re a nicer way of saying “you haven’t recruited that well, but you managed to win a pile of close games so your record flatters your team. Here’s a plaque!”
For the record, I like Ralph Friedgen a lot. To the extent that one can tell anything from an interview, Friedgen sounds like a good guy. His work at Georgia Tech under George O’Leary was outstanding, as were his first several years at Maryland. However, the Terps’ slide since 2004 – Friedgen was 31-8 in his first three seasons and 43-42 over the next seven – leads to the conclusion that Friedgen is a great coach when someone else is recruiting for him. Friedgen’s record illustrates the potential downside for hiring guys like Dana Holgorsen or Gus Malzahn: you know that these guys know how to scheme on offense, but can they handle the other aspects of being a head coach?