Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim…)
Ralph Friedgen and Ken Niumatalolo are at different stages of their college coaching careers, and their teams head into their 2010 season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 6 from different directions than the last time the schools met. But the veteran Maryland football coach and the third-year Navy head coach are of the same mind-set when it comes to the rivalry between the Terps and the Midshipmen.
Both coaches agree that the schools have to play more often than once every five years, or once every 40.
The Labor Day game marks the first time since 2005 that the only Football Bowl Subdivision (former Division I-A) teams in the state have met; they had not played before that since 1965. Maryland won the last meeting, also at M&T Bank Stadium, 26-23.
"To have an in-state rivalry, I think it just helps the whole state," Friedgen said Tuesday at McDaniel College in Westminster, where he, Niumatalolo and their staffs were guests of the Ravens. "People can rally behind each school. It just brings the whole state together. Having it in Baltimore just accentuates that."
Asked whether he would like to see the teams play more regularly, or even annually, Friedgen said: " I would like to see it happen on a yearly basis. It's good for both schools. I like playing the first game, too. I'd rather play them in the first game or the last game than in the [middle] of the season. It's something that we really should try to strive for."
Said Niumatalolo: "We need to play more. You have two great institutions so close together, there's a history involved. Hopefully, we can continue this series. I know we're looking forward to it and Maryland is looking forward to it."
While Friedgen tries to have his team rebound from a 2-10 season and prepare for a team ranked by many in the Top25 with a quarterback, senior Ricky Dobbs, who is being mentioned on many early-season Heisman Trophy lists, Niumatalolo has to make sure the Midshipmen are not too cocky coming off a 10-4 season against a team picked to finish at the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division.
Niumatalolo will also have to do a little work on the home front when it comes to his oldest child, Alexcia, a junior lacrosse player in College Park.
"I still haven't coached my daughter up as to where her allegiances are during the game, what section she's going to sit at during the game," Niumatalolo joked.