I'll admit it, after a blowout loss to California and a close win over James Madison, it's not hard to think Ralph Friedgen's job is in jeopardy. Honestly, I kind of wish there was some pressure on the big man - it could help in the Ws and Ls category (not saying he's unmotivated, but it's a possibility.
But before Maryland sneaks out a win over MTSU and the national media begins to discuss how Fridge's chair happens to be quite toasty (Fox didn't even wait that long - this is actually the article that made me write this), I'd like to issue a clarification: it isn't. Unless Maryland loses every game from here on out, it won't be. Fridge decides when Fridge leaves...as long as it's within three years.
That's not to say he's earned it, per se - as a matter of philosophy, I don't believe anyone's earned the right to pick when they leave, not even HOF Gary (let's not get into that debate again, though). With that said, he's not getting fired anytime soon, for one simple reason: economics.
Maryland's athletic department isn't swimming in cash, and paying a large buyout isn't feasible, now or any time soon. Even if they could afford the buyout, James Franklin is guaranteed to be the replacement, who has been named Coach-In-Waiting, and legally has to be the coach by 2012 (ie, three years) or he gets a $1mil buyout.
It's doubtful that Franklin, the current OC, would change much - it wouldn't be a massive alteration, only slight adjustment. The offense would remain the same. The recruiting would remain the same. The defense would likely remain the same, as long as Don Brown can pull the crew together enough to hold his job for another few seasons. The only thing that would change would be energy level and certain, minor philosophical changes - nothing to spend a huge amount over so it arrives two years earlier.
It might be fun conjecture for bloggers and national writers, but no, Fridge isn't on the hot seat, and won't be. Now, if I can just figure out a way to get this to ESPN to preempt any attempt to say contrary, I'd be fine.