Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ralph Friedgen's Extra Large Hot Seat

If you had asked Maryland alums or fans entering the 2004 season about head coach Ralph Friedgen, most would have told you what a God in fat pants the man was turning out to be. Here was lowly Maryland, the team with one winning season and no bowl appearances in nearly 14 years. We're talking Duke bad.

Enter Friedgen through the room's wall (no confirmation of a loud "Oh yeah!!"), and all of a sudden, the Terps became relevant again. Three straight 10+ win seasons and an Orange Bowl appearance, to go along with a Gator Bowl and Peach Bowl bid, had the fans thinking that the love affair between The Fridge and his alma mater was a storybook romance ready to unfold. Metaphorically, and we hope that's all, Friedgen was making slow sweet love to the boosters, students, and fans, while getting them drunk on wins, bowl games, and Top 20 rankings.

Somewhere along the way, though, When Harry Met Sally turned into A Nightmare on Elm Street. Friedgen has never been awful. He isn't posting Al Groh type of seasons. Though he is getting beat by Al Groh, and that's the problem.

Maryland has always been good for an upset or two per year. Look at this year... the pouncing of Cal. Beating Clemson at Clemson (though not nearly as impressive as it normally would have been). Last season the Terps downed two Top 10 opponents in Rutgers and Boston College. In 2004, it was a defeat of #5 Florida State. All in all, an impressive resume on the good column.

Then there's the bad column. The befuddling sort of football that no sane man would even attempt to explain. If I hadn't watched dozens of these meltdowns in person, I would never believe it. Take 2008. A shutout against Virginia. A loss to Middle Tennessee State. 2007? A 6-7 finish despite upsetting 2 Top 10 teams. 2006? The Terps were outgained by every single 1-A opponent they played.

Is Friedgen on the hotseat? According to us and MS Paint, absolutely!
Everything's better when it's crudely illustrated

In reality, Friedgen and Phil Fulmer of Tennessee have a lot in common this season, aside from needing to shop at the local Big and Tall. They both are great coaches, who had great successes, and are failing to continue succeeding. Luckily for Fridge, but unluckily for Phil, the UT fanbase is a bit louder and the seat a bit hotter. Though the pants are significantly looser.

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