An interesting e-mail was sent today to members of the Baltimore-Washington media covering Maryland athletics.
It came from former Terps football coach Ralph Friedgen, who wrote about the accomplishments of his program during his 10-year tenure. But the most interesting part of the e-mail was the last sentence.
“We would appreciate the current administration looking forward to the future and dedicating their energies to continue to forge ahead as a world class University and successful football program without demeaning the accomplishments of those who came before,” Friedgen wrote.
Friedgen, who had opened the statement by saying he was “mostly silent” since he was fired in December of 2010, would have been better served to write this last fall when Randy Edsall and, to a lesser extent, athletic director Kevin Anderson, took some not-so-veiled shots at the previous staff.
The only verbal dagger I can remember recently came in Sun colleague Jeff Barker’s feature on Edsall’s wife, Eileen. Toward the end of the story, Eileen Edsall made a comment about how she was not going to take after Gloria Friedgen by providing snacks for the players. “This is not youth soccer,” Eileen Edsall said.
As much as I defended Friedgen last fall when Edsall questioned how much accountability there had been by Maryland football players under the former staff, and as much as I criticized Edsall for what I thought was making excuses for his team’s 2-10 record, this is a case of Friedgen picking the wrong time for going after Edsall and Anderson.
First of all, Edsall has finally learned, with the help of a newly-hired PR firm, to keep his mouth shut. Even at this week’s ACC media gathering in North Carolina, Edsall said that it’s time for Maryland to do it on the field and for him to be judged by what the Terps do this season. Had he done that last season, he wouldn’t have become the “punching bag,” as wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said this week, for media and fans.
Secondly, the timing of Friedgen’s statement is a little odd, given what is going on right now with the NCAA sanctioning Penn State. I’m not sure if Friedgen was trying to show what kind of balance he had in College Park, compared to Joe Paterno, but whatever Friedgen has to say about Maryland is going to get lost – even in the local media – with the Ravens and Redskins opening training camp, with the Olympics starting, with the Orioles and Nationals both in the hunt for the Major League Baseball playoffs.
I don’t think Friedgen was treated well at the end, but the truth is that he was fortunate to survive his own 2-10 season in 2009. I feel badly for a guy who gave 10 years to his alma mater and was fired, but that’s the nature of the coaching business. I had hoped that Friedgen would find his way back to the sidelines, if that was his wish, but there was a part of me who hoped he would enjoy what he accomplished and enjoy a well-deserved retirement like Gary Williams apparently has.
Ralph, it’s time to listen to the advice you offered Maryland.
It’s time to move on.
RALPH FRIEDGEN PREPARED STATEMENT
July 24, 2012
After being mostly silent since my departure from the University, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my players, coaches and staff and their families, as well as our loyal Terps fans that had supported us over the decade in which I was privileged to coach at my alma mater. Having coached football for over 40 years at both the collegiate and professional level, I can say without reservation that the players and coaches who had been a part of our program are some of the best individuals with whom I had ever worked.