Leach meets with top Maryland officials

Interview was extensive, but no offer made

December 31, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach met Thursday with the University of Maryland's president, its athletic director and the search committee tasked with finding Ralph Friedgen's successor as football coach, according to sources familiar with the process.

Maryland had not made an offer to Leach or any other candidate by late Thursday night, said the sources, who declined to speculate on whether an offer was forthcoming.

But Leach was interviewed extensively. University president Wallace Loh met with him apart from the search committee. AD Kevin Anderson also spoke with Leach independently. The search committee, headed by senior associate athletic director Randy Eaton, also interviewed Leach, who has been working in radio for Sirius XM.

Maryland has also expressed interest in Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, among others.

Former Maryland linebacker and NFL assistant Bobby DePaul -- now a consultant with the Philadelphia Eagles -- is being promoted for the job by a group of Maryland graduates and others from the Bobby Ross coaching era of the 1980s. The group has brought DePaul's name to the attention of the search committee.

DePaul has not been a head coach. He is the former director of pro personnel for the Chicago Bears and has been an NFL assistant with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals. Currently an a Philadelphia Eagles consultant, he could not be reached for comment through the team.

Maryland expects to end the search by Tuesday – the original target set by Anderson in announcing Friedgen's ouster Dec. 20.

If the search continued beyond that, the coaching uncertainty could cause orally committed recruits to waver during the opening of an important contact period. A contact period is when coaches are permitted to visit recruits.

With the self-imposed deadline looming, it is possible that the search process could produce news today or over New Year's weekend.

Leach was fired at the end of the 2009 season after leading the Red Raiders to 10 straight winning seasons and national prominence. Leach, a big name, has long been of interest to many boosters concerned about Maryland's dwindling fan base.

He was ousted after allegations he mistreated a player. Leach denied the claims and filed suit against the school over his firing and other issues. He has said he knew he would want to return to coaching.

Leach did not return text messages. Others -- including some at Maryland and one person close to Leach -- confirmed that he was at the school. The sources declined to be identified while the search process continues.

Friedgen won his last game -- the Military Bowl -- on Wednesday, ending a 10-year career at the school.

Using three vehicles, Friedgen moved his possessions out of his office Thursday in the Gossett Football Team House and drove home.

He plans to attend the annual football banquet next month at the urging of former players.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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