Correction to This Article
In some editions, the column mentioned statements by University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen that, because of budget cuts, he paid to fly his team to games at Wake Forest and North Carolina State, and for the team's banquet. In other editions, the column referred to that funding as not coming from the university's athletic department. The university says the road trips and the banquet were paid for with funds generated by the Maryland Gridiron Network, a University of Maryland Foundation account and the football team's official booster organization.
Page 2 of 2   <      

Mike Wise: Ralph Friedgen feels the heat, but should he be fired?

Do you know Friedgen said he used funds not from the athletic department's annual operating budget to fly his team to Wake Forest and North Carolina State this season because of budget cuts?

Do you know his Band-Aid roster, with the youth and injuries people accuse Friedgen of using for alibis, is so banged up that left tackle Bruce Campbell is playing with an ACL injury? Do you know another offensive lineman, Lamar Young, is at this moment a candidate for shoulder surgery?

Or that when classes and practice collide at Maryland, which uses the millions from basketball and football to fund many of its stellar athletic programs, alternatives in times are altogether scarce for student-athletes?

The idea that the latest "It" coaches in college football would jump at this gig -- say, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly or TCU's Gary Patterson -- is a flat-out fallacy. The same goes for sought-after assistants at USC and Florida. If a big-time MAC coach makes almost $300,000 in a cheap-eats town that doubles as his fiefdom, why would he throw that away for the pressure and pains of this job?

And don't come back with, "There's nowhere to go but up." Really? Maryland opens 2010 against Navy in Baltimore. Part of the nonconference schedule also includes an old rival, at West Virginia.

If an oily salesman came in tomorrow, it wouldn't change the fact Maryland is consistently out-recruited in its area by Penn State, Virginia Tech and recently Illinois. Rutgers and North Carolina have made inroads lately in the District and Maryland.

Does something have to give after this season, for not finishing in the top 25 the last six seasons? Probably. The entire staff has to take a hard look at itself, especially the chief recruiters.

But before the people at Maryland make any rash decisions and get rid of a guy who began with three 10-win seasons, they need to know that whomever they bring in will not just be trying to replace Ralph Friedgen; he also has to replace the coach who made football in College Park matter again.

Before any more budget cuts, good luck convincing that guy that this a great division I-A job.

<       2

© 2009 The Washington Post Company