U-Md. Assistant Rychleski Takes Job at S. Carolina

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maryland assistant coach Ray Rychleski, who has presided over the Terrapins' special teams the past seven seasons, has been hired as the special teams coordinator at South Carolina. Rychleski will coach the Terrapins in the Dec. 28 Emerald Bowl before moving to his new role as an assistant to Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier.

"I had to do it," said Rychleski, who came to Maryland as part of Ralph Friedgen's original staff in 2001 and also coached tight ends and H-backs. "It's a great opportunity. I've never coached in the SEC, and I wanted to see what's out there."

Through a mutual friend, Spurrier contacted Rychleski on Monday. Rychleski, 50, said he hopes the job leads to a head coaching position.

Rychleski's move could have an impact on another critical staff decision -- whether Friedgen will hire an offensive coordinator. Friedgen, who has handled play-calling duties the past two seasons, has said that creating a staff opening has been one hurdle in hiring an offensive coordinator.

"I really haven't addressed that yet," said Friedgen, who isn't expected to make a decision until after the Terrapins' bowl game. "But it does leave a spot open for me now."

During Rychleski's tenure at Maryland, special teams has been one of the program's strongest areas. Former Terrapins kick returner Steve Suter set an ACC record with 1,271 career punt return yards, a mark that stood until this season. Rychleski also coached Nick Novak, Maryland's career leader in field goals made.

Between Brooks Barnard and Adam Podlesh, Terrapins punters have earned all-ACC honors in six consecutive seasons beginning in 2001. In Rychleski's time, the Terrapins never have allowed a punt to be blocked.

"We've been very sound on special teams," Friedgen said. "He's done a phenomenal job with it. We're going to miss him. It's a great opportunity for him. They've paid him a lot of money, and I'm happy for him."

Rychleski, who made nearly $117,000 in guaranteed salary this season, will be receiving a pay raise to join the Gamecocks, though he refused to disclose the terms of the deal.

Special teams were a question for the Terrapins entering this season, but Obi Egekeze made 17 of 22 field goal attempts and Travis Baltz averaged 41.3 yards per punt. Maryland also was second nationally in kickoff return defense.

Rychleski praised Friedgen for his emphasis on special teams and outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson, who doubled as a special teams assistant.

"When you have a head coach thinking like that, and you have very good assistants helping you, and you have outstanding players in the special teams area, it's hard not to be good," he said.

Friedgen said he already has spoken with Seamonson about taking over as special teams coordinator and plans to speak with running backs coach Phil Zacharias, who has a background in coaching special teams.

Terrapins Notes: Friedgen said guard Jaimie Thomas (broken fibula) is a long shot to play in the Emerald Bowl, and wide receiver LaQuan Williams (knee) and defensive back Nolan Carroll (hamstring) are questionable for the game. . . . Maryland has sold nearly 5,200 tickets for the Emerald Bowl. According to Gary Cavalli, the game's executive director, that's the second-most tickets sold by an East Coast school in the game's history, behind only Virginia Tech in the inaugural game in 2002.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company