COLLEGE PARK — - Ralph Friedgen said Saturday that he hopes and expects to return next year as Maryland's football coach so he can try to guide the program from a miserable season in which the Terrapins lost 10 games for the first time.
Friedgen had an emotional meeting with his players after Maryland's season-ending, 19-17 loss to Boston College - its seventh straight defeat.
"I told them that I expected to be back and that if I'm not, that I wanted to tell them how much I love them and appreciate them," the coach said in a halting voice.
A handful of players expressed support for Friedgen after the game. Some said there were tears in the post-game locker room because of the emotions surrounding Friedgen's status and the fact that the loss coincided with the final game for 14 seniors.
Friedgen said he will meet with athletic director Deborah Yow over the next few days, "and we're going to talk about some things - some ideas that I have both from an offensive and a defensive standpoint that I think could help us. We'll sit down and talk about the whole program."
Friedgen indicated nothing has been decided yet. Yow sat at a table listening as the coach, who completed his ninth season at his alma mater Saturday, addressed media members in the cafeteria of the Gossett Football Team House. She declined comment on his status.
It was the first 10-loss season for Maryland (2-10, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) but not its worst record. The 1967 team finished 0-9. Friedgen has led the Terps to six bowl games, but his teams have had losing records four times in the past six years.
Friedgen said his players "never quit on me. I want to be there when they're good so we can think about these times and laugh about them."
Defensive lineman Travis Ivey, a junior, said of Friedgen: "I feel like he deserves to be here. I feel like he deserves to leave on his own terms."
Ivey said Friedgen was clear in his pronouncement that he didn't believe Saturday was his final game as coach. "He made sure he clarified that he didn't think anything was going to happen [to his job]."
Yow signed a contract with offensive coordinator James Franklin in February promising to pay him $1 million if he is not named to succeed Friedgen by Jan. 2, 2012.
Friedgen's post-game comments completed a day that began when he greeted waiting fans as he walked down Terp Alley to Byrd Stadium with the players - a pre-game tradition begun by Friedgen after he was hired before the 2001 season. The coach, wearing a blue blazer and slacks, stopped nearly a dozen times to hug well-wishers and acknowledge fans carrying signs directed at him. "Thanks for the Memories," one sign said.
Two hours later, Friedgen walked onto the field clutching his playbook as his players bolted from the tunnel to a smattering of applause. The game drew a relatively sparse crowd (an announced 35,042) on a blustery day with many students still away on Thanksgiving weekend.
Maryland lost because it struggled to run the ball, committed eight penalties and allowed Boston College to control the clock. Boston College running back Montel Harris carried 41 times for 142 yards.
Trailing 19-10, the Terps made it interesting at the end. A 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jamarr Robinson to Torrey Smith made it 19-17 with 1:34 left. But an onside kick attempt failed, and the Eagles ran out the clock.
Maryland played two quarterbacks, and each was under heavy pressure from Boston College, which recorded four sacks.
Senior Chris Turner, returning from a knee sprain suffered against North Carolina State on Nov. 7., started and played the first three series - and part of the second half - for the Terps in his last college game.
Robinson, a redshirt sophomore, entered on Maryland's fourth series with the Terps trailing 10-3. Robinson led a 69-yard touchdown drive, completed when tailback Da'Rel Scott ran it in from 6 yards to tie the score at 10.
The Eagles took a 16-10 lead on field goals of 36 yards and 23 yards by Steve Aponavicius on Boston College's last two drives of the second half.
The Terps got a break when Aponavicius missed a 31-yard attempt midway through the third quarter and the Eagles still up by six points. But Maryland could not take advantage.
Trailing 16-10, the Terps drove to the Boston College 37-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But running back Davin Meggett was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one.
Maryland failed to convert another fourth-and-one - this time from its own 29 - in the final moments. Robinson was stopped for no gain.
Said Friedgen: "If I had to do it over again, I probably would have punted the ball. We were in a hurry-up offense, and James [Franklin] called the quarterback sneak."
Aponavicius added another field goal, this one from 42 yards, to make it 19-10 with 3:59 left.
Smith, whose 2,192 all-purpose yards this season was second in the ACC to Clemson's C.J. Spiller, called the Terps "probably the best losing team I've ever seen."