Spurrier to Friedgen: `Hang in there'

Ex-Redskins coach calls UM coach with kind words

ACC notebook

College Football

October 28, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen readily admits that he doesn't have much free time to talk his friends, especially those in the coaching profession, during the football season. He follows Frank Beamer, George O'Leary, Sylvester Croom, Bobby Ross and numerous others from afar, but on a daily basis, he and his friends are usually too busy to pick up the phone and chat with one another.

Steve Spurrier, on the other hand, doesn't have quite as much to attend to on a daily basis - at least for the moment - so recently the "Old Ball Coach" decided to pick up the phone after a round of golf and give Friedgen a call of support.

"He just told me to hang in there," Friedgen said of Spurrier, the former Washington Redskins coach who is rumored to be mulling over a return to the University of Florida. "He said, `Ralph, for three years it's bounced your way. You're going through a bad streak right now. Hang in there.'

"He also said, `When I had trouble running the ball, I just ran the draw play,' " Friedgen said, laughing.

Friedgen, whose team is preparing to play Florida State on Saturday, said he doesn't know whether Spurrier will return to coach the Gators but that he wouldn't be surprised if he did.

"It seems like a logical move," Friedgen said. "But sometimes it's tough to go back to where you've been. ... He told me he just played 18 holes, then went and watched his son practice. That's not a bad way to live."

Friedgen scoffed at the question when he was asked if he would be interested in the Gators' job. SI.com recently threw Friedgen's name out as someone Florida might want to try to pursue.

"I don't think anybody's going to be offering me jobs right now," said Friedgen, whose team is trying to end a three-game losing streak.

Getting political

With less than a week to go before the presidential election, politics seems to be on everyone's mind, even a few football coaches. Friedgen said yesterday he plans to vote for the first time ever in this election, but declined to say whether he'll be supporting Sen. John Kerry or President Bush.

"First election I'm voting in," Friedgen said. "That's how serious I think it is."

Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden also declined to say whom he's voting for next week, and said he has never had political aspirations, but that he really admires what former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne has done since he got out of coaching.

Osborne, who was the Cornhuskers' coach for 25 years, ran for Congress as a Republican and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.

"I was so glad to see him go into politics, because to see him do nothing would have been a tremendous waste of talent," Bowden said."

Around the league

Florida State: Bowden said he's not quite sure what he plans to do at running back against Maryland. The Seminoles will be without Leon Washington, who injured his right shoulder against Wake Forest. Washington has more rushing yards (689) than any running back in the league this year. Backup Lorenzo Booker isn't a bad replacement by any means, though. Booker is one of the fastest players in the ACC, and he has rushed for 562 yards in seven games. Florida State will probably also be without Chauncey Stovall, the team's best blocking wide receiver.

Miami: There are plenty of people up in arms about what might happen with six teams possibly able to finish the regular season undefeated, but Hurricanes coach Larry Coker isn't one of them.

"I think those things tend to work themselves out," Coker said. "I'd be totally shocked if we had five or six teams go undefeated. Since we started the [Bowl Championship Series], there haven't been too many undefeated teams. There are a lot of teams in the mix right now, and we're one of them, but we've got to play well to keep winning."

Georgia Tech: It's hard to believe that one of the best receivers in the ACC this year is only a freshman, but that's certainly been the case with Yellow Jackets wide-out Calvin Johnson. Through six games, Johnson has caught 23 passes for 395 yards. He's tied for the ACC lead in touchdown catches with five, and his 65.8 yards a game are second to Clemson's Airese Currie.

"He's an extraordinary talent, and he's got deceptive speed," said Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey. "What people don't see is his work ethic. It's tremendous. He never takes a snap off in practice."

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