Maryland Press Conference Recap: Friedgen Fired and Bought Out

Ah, the joys of being without web access for the first half of the day: I come back home, and there's a press conference going on, in which Maryland's athletic director uncomfortably talked about the recently-spiraled-out-of-control coaching situation at Maryland. The big hitters:

  • Ralph Friedgen will not be the coach at Maryland. He "thank[ed] and commend[ed] Friedgen," and announced that his contract will be bought out as part of a "strategic business decision." It was thought that Friedgen was going to retire, but talks there died and he decided to make them fire him. His contract will still be bought out, because, as university president Wallace Loh said, it was the "accountable" thing to do (there was no mention of the fact that it was the only legal thing Maryland could do if they wanted him to stop coaching). The buyout will run Maryland about $2mil.
  • He claimed that a search committee will be found by this evening, but I'd be shocked if it hasn't already happened. I wonder if he's going to have trouble with it; normally they would include alumni of the program, but quite a few are unhappy. He wants a decision at least by the end of the dead period, which is Jan. 4. I'd be surprised if this carried over into the new year, but he did say it would be a "national search."
  • The coaching candidates list unsurprisingly came up. "Right now, there is no leading candidate," he claimed. "Now, I do have a list, and Mike Leach is on that list, I'll be truthful with that, but that's all we're doing because we have several other people on that list, too." He did say that no one had been contacted by himself or anyone on the staff. Yes, but Kevin Plank isn't a technical employee. I will say this isn't as big of a deal as it at first seemed; mentioning anyone else's name could be a legal problem, whereas Leach doesn't have a current employer in the field and thus can be mentioned freely.

  • Anderson also said that his hand was forced, in essence, after Franklin left. He said that after JF ended up at Vanderbilt it "became clear that we needed to make a well-thought out business decision." A lame duck year was never an option, and Anderson wasn't going to extend his contract. "I wasn't prepared and I wasn't willing [to extend Friedgen's contract]," he said. 
  • Interestingly enough, there was no shot of a Ralph extension even after next year, unless they presumably won the ACC or something similar. "I was willing to let Ralph run through the extent of his contract," Anderson said, "but I was looking to take the program in a different direction."
  • On Kevin Plank's involvement: "I have many people I get, uh [smiles], recommendations and advice from. Kevin and I do talk, but no more than any other supporter or booster. They talk and throw names at me every day, and I listen."
  • On why he didn't give James Franklin the job: "I told him I would not automatically give him the job [in 2012], but he would've been a candidate if he chose to stay, and that the decision was his."
  • There were two common themes throughout the entire thing. The first is that it was a "business decision." Anderson said it. Loh mentioned that they have a "fiduciary duty" to the university. Clearly, the ticket sales that Friedgen didn't bring in - and significant upgrade that a person like Leach would account for - played a part in this. So, too, did the lack of excitement around the program in general, which can only be a bad thing financially. Still, he talked long-term. "I'm looking long term. If we do the right thing long term, we're gonna have people come and support the University of Maryland's football program."
  • The other theme was essentially "raising the bar." Loh said he was searching for "transformative excellence," in all areas, football presumably included. Anderson said that this was a good football team capable of being a great one. He mentioned that phrase "good for great" multiple times. This has been said quite a bit around these parts: not settling for "mediocrity" and so on and so forth. Anderson's stated goal: "a top 25 program."
  • Quote of the day: when talking about how proud Loh was of Anderson making the honorable decision, he mentioned: "I don't know where he's going to get the money." Way to inspire confidence, big man. For the record, it was said earlier that all the money is coming from the Athletic Department, not taxpayers. But it doesn't inspire confidence in where that dough is going to come from within the athletic department.
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