Friedgen says he'd be happy with raise

Terps coach says he's not seeking NFL opening, but he'd like more money

Gator Bowl notebook

Maryland 41, West Virginia 7

January 02, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With several NFL coaching positions open, Ralph Friedgen's name has come up repeatedly. Asked yesterday about the rumors, the Maryland coach repeatedly said that he was happy. He did say, however, that he wouldn't mind a raise.

Friedgen has eight years remaining on a 10-year, $12 million contract he signed in 2001.

"I'm happy at Maryland," Friedgen said. "I'm very happy here. I've been to the NFL. I like where I'm at. I would like some more money, though."

Friedgen hasn't directly asked for a raise, but Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow has made it clear she's willing to do what it takes to keep him happy at Maryland. She said Wednesday that Friedgen has told her that he is committed to Maryland.

Yesterday, Friedgen said he hasn't been contacted by any NFL organizations.

Terps all wet

Friedgen said about the only thing Maryland did wrong was miss him twice while trying to give him a celebratory post-game dousing.

"I don't know how you miss a guy like me," Friedgen said. "The third time, they finally got me."

Encore for Suter

After Steve Suter returned four punts for a touchdown his sophomore year, many wondered what the receiver/return specialist could possibly do for an encore.

Suter, riddled by numerous injuries and the pressure of high expectations, learned this season that he's a pretty tough act to follow. His sole punt return for a score in 2003 came against The Citadel, a Division I-AA opponent, in a 61-0 rout.

But the junior more than met even his own high standards in yesterday's Gator Bowl.

First, he returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown at the 13:55 mark in the second quarter, slicing through would-be tacklers and following a wall of blockers to stake the Terps to a 17-0 lead.

In doing so, he became the first player to return a punt for a score in the Gator Bowl since 1971. It was also Maryland's first punt return for a touchdown in the school's bowl history, which dates back to 1948.

"That was big for us when Steve returned the punt," Terps senior receiver Jafar Williams said. "That really changed things."

Then, midway through the third quarter, he made one of the more memorable catches of the college football season, batting the ball to himself - over a West Virginia defender - to set up another Maryland touchdown.

The 43-yard reception left the remaining fans at Alltel Stadium in a state of shock.

Suter finished the game with four catches for 84 yards. With the inclusion of his 114 return yards, he amassed 198 total yards over the course of the afternoon.

And he did it all despite being at about "85 percent" health, as estimated by coach Ralph Friedgen.

"Steve has really been sucking it up," Friedgen said. "He probably could have had the knee operated on before the North Carolina game [Nov. 1]."

Friedgen met with Suter after Monday's bowl practice and told him that he wanted to schedule surgery on his ailing left knee for sometime in early January.

"I know he has been hurting," Friedgen said. "We need to get that taken care of."

Records abound

It was a record-setting day in numerous ways for Maryland. Scott McBrien's 381 passing yards were a career high, and were the second most in Gator Bowl history behind Pittsburgh's Matt Cavanaugh (now the Ravens offensive coordinator), who threw for 381 in 1977. Maryland also set a team bowl records for first downs (26), passing yards, touchdown passes, total offense by one player (McBrien's 367, including minus-14 rushing) and touchdown receptions by one player (Williams two TDs).

Maryland junior kicker Nick Novak, who had two field goals and four extra points, is tied for second in ACC history in career scoring with 324 points. Florida State's Scott Bentley (326) is the only player with more.

Et cetera

Jessica Lynch, an Army private from West Virginia who was captured and subsequently rescued during the invasion of Iraq, was honored on the field before the game. ... Senior tailback Bruce Perry injured his shoulder in the third quarter but returned later. He led Maryland with 67 yards on 20 carries.

Travis Haney contributed to this article.

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