Maryland football's classless courtship of Mike Leach on day of Ralph Friedgen's final game

The Terrapins run over the Pirates at RFK Stadium and deliver a 51-20 victory in Ralph Friedgen's final game as coach at Maryland.
Thursday, December 30, 2010; 12:19 AM

In this decrepit stadium, they began chanting a college coach's name on Wednesday evening.

Over and over, the words tumbled from the mouths of a throaty crowd at RFK Stadium, until they reached the same crescendo as Maryland's turnaround season had under that coach - until the emotional Terrapins players had blown the doors off their opponents and won one for the big lug who cried with them, won with them and cried some more.

They weren't chanting "Mike Leach."

"Thank you, Friedgen! Thank you, Friedgen!"

Ralph Friedgen choked back more tears as his players embraced him on the last night of his Maryland career, after this 51-20 demolition of East Carolina paved the way for the new young thing to spice up the university's dying marriage with its boosters.

Indeed, at the exact same time a 63-year-old football lifer was coaching his final game at his alma mater, Leach, the former Texas Tech coach who has been accused of ordering a kid complaining of a concussion to be locked in a shed, was touring Maryland's campus.

Let's give the administration and Kevin Anderson, the neophyte Maryland athletic director who fired Friedgen, at least this: They will stop at nothing when it comes to finding their bottom.

People of Terrapin Nation, please: The body wasn't even cold. You couldn't have at least waited until he cleaned out his office at Gossett Team House on Thursday? It was just too much to let the ACC coach of the year have one more day before the mail-order bride from Texas arrived?

"I have three daughters and 120 sons," Friedgen said amid the postgame celebration as his 120-player extended family encircled the patriarch of Maryland football for one more night. "I am going to miss these kids."

Maryland didn't merely fire Friedgen; it took the only job the Class of '70 alum ever wanted. As he spoke forlornly after the game, you didn't feel Friedgen was losing his job as much as his essence, who he is beyond a father and a husband.

His ultra-supportive wife, Gloria, and his daughters sat in the back, but not like the proud family of the man who somehow made the Terrapins count in college football again, 10 years after Maryland was nowhere.

No, they and every one of Friedgen's supporters looked like the losers in a family-court custody case. The state took away all 120 of his adopted children.

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