Maryland announced in January that former Terps football coach Ralph Friedgen would be the featured speaker this Friday at Coach DJ Durkin’s spring coaches clinic at the recently renovated Cole Field House. Durkin and Friedgen, who have never met, recently explained how the reunion came about, and Friedgen said it wouldn’t have happened if Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson, the man who fired him December 2010, weren’t in the midst of a six-month sabbatical.
“It was early on I decided to reach out to him,” Durkin — who was hired to replace Friedgen’s successor, Randy Edsall, after the 2015 season — told PressBox’s Glenn Clark. “I feel really strongly about in college football, the whole tradition of things and respect to those who came before you, both coaches, players alike. Coach Friedgen not only coached here, he went to school here. I think he’s a very important person in the history of this program, and so I just thought it was the right thing to do to reach out to him and really just more than anything just he and I to start a relationship. I did not know him or work with him any time previously.”
Friedgen was an offensive lineman at Maryland from 1966 to 1968. He served as the Terps’ offensive coordinator under Bobby Ross from 1982 to 1986 and then returned to College Park as the head coach in 2001 after stints at Georgia Tech and in the NFL. Friedgen led Maryland to 31 wins and an Orange Bowl berth in his first three seasons at Maryland but was fired after going 9-4 and leading the Terps to a win in the Military Bowl in 2010. In firing Friedgen, who went 75-50, including five bowl wins, during his decade in College Park, Anderson said he wanted to take the program from “good to great.” Edsall went 22-34 at Maryland and was fired six games into the 2015 season.
In 2011, Friedgen told Clark, “I could care less about Maryland. I’ve burned my diploma. I’m flying a Georgia Tech flag right now.” Friedgen maintains he was only joking, but after Rutgers came back to beat Maryland in College Park in November 2014, with Friedgen serving as the Scarlet Knights’ offensive coordinator, he described it as “a special win.” He made it clear that his appearance at Friday’s coaching clinic doesn’t mean he’s ready to move on from the way he was treated by his alma mater.
“I had reservations to whether I wanted to do it or not,” Friedgen told Clark. “I said, ‘Can you give me the weekend to kind of think about it?’ He said ‘sure.’ So then he kind of called me back and he said, ‘You know, if you’re not ready to do this, that’s fine, but I’m going to keep asking.’ So of course my wife wanted me to do it, so I told him I would do it. I don’t know how it’s going to go. I really questioned whether I’d ever set foot on Maryland’s campus again. Maybe after I talk it would be the last time. We’ll see.”
Friedgen said he wouldn’t have agreed to attend Friday’s event if Anderson were still in College Park. In October, about 48 hours after several media reports said Anderson had been fired, the school announced he would take a six-month sabbatical.
“I don’t know where Anderson is now. They say he’s on sabbatical,” Friedgen said. “I’ve never heard of an AD being on sabbatical. That might be the greatest secret kept in Maryland’s history.”
Friedgen, who stepped down as Rutgers’s offensive coordinator following the 2014 season, told Clark he texted Durkin after Maryland’s 38-13 loss at Wisconsin in October and told him he should reach out if there was anything Friedgen could do to help. Durkin called the 70-year-old Friedgen to ask for a critique of the game. Friedgen provided one, and the Terps beat Indiana the following week.
“You know, I had reached out to [Randy] Edsall when he was there, but he didn’t want to hear anything,” Friedgen told Clark.
Durkin said he hopes Friedgen’s involvement with Maryland continues after Friday’s event.
“Ralph’s supposed to be part of this program,” Durkin said. “He’s supposed to be still involved and engaged, and whatever happens, however you get to that, I’m just certainly happy that we’re moving back in that direction.”
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