Leach is U-Md.'s top target to lead football program
Monday, December 20, 2010
Maryland is expected to try to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach as head football coach once the school announces Ralph Friedgen's departure after a 10-year tenure, according to three sources familiar with the situation.
The announcement about Friedgen, who led Maryland to a combined 31 wins his first three seasons and seven bowl games overall, is expected early this week. The Web site OrangeBloods.com, which covers the University of Texas and the Big 12 Conference, reported Saturday that Leach would be Maryland's next head football coach, according to a "key Big 12 source."
On Sunday, Friedgen told his players to expect him to lead the team in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on Dec. 29, according to two team sources. The Terrapins will face East Carolina.
Friedgen was asked by the school to accept a buyout, though the 63-year-old coach has not yet agreed to do so, according to a source close to Friedgen. Maryland finished the regular season 8-4 and Friedgen earned ACC Coach of the Year honors after turning around a program that went 2-10 in 2009.
If Friedgen refuses to retire - he has repeatedly said he wants to continue coaching beyond 2011 - the school would have to pay him about $2 million to buy out the remaining year of his contract.
Athletic Director Kevin Anderson met with the team's assistant coaches at 6 p.m. Saturday and told them the school will honor the full extent of their contracts, even if they are not retained by the team's next head coach, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The source said Anderson asked the assistants to coach the team through the Military Bowl.
As for the search for Friedgen's replacement, there is mutual interest between Leach and Maryland, according to three sources, two of whom are close to Maryland and one of whom is close to Leach. Leach is said to be very interested in the job. He has a strong relationship with Kevin Plank, a former Maryland football player who sits on the school's board of trustees and whose apparel company, Under Armour, is the outfitter for the school's athletic teams.
When reached by phone Friday, Leach said he had yet to be contacted by Maryland.
Leach, 49, had an 84-43 record in 10 seasons at Texas Tech, including an 11-2 finish in 2008. His prolific "Air Raid" offense made for high-scoring games and an exciting brand of football.
Barnes blasts Anderson
Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes, who played under Friedgen for five seasons at Maryland, said the way Anderson has handled the coaching situation is "completely terrible."
"You can put it on the record: I think it's complete [expletive]," Barnes said Sunday after the Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Tex. "I don't know this new AD, but to treat an alumni like Coach Friedgen like that, who turned that program around, is completely terrible. I feel bad for those guys.
"I mean Leach, he might be a good coach. But we don't need to lose somebody like [Friedgen]. . . . My year, two years ago, we lost 30 seniors, so definitely last year you're going to expect some downfall. But from 2-10 [Maryland's record in 2009] to 8-4 [this season's record], it's really sad. I really feel bad for those guys."
Staff writer Barry Svrluga in Arlington, Tex., contributed to this report.