In College Park, they might like to burn the occasional couch, but they won't be firing the Fridge anytime soon. Well, at least this year. Ralph Friedgen is staying on as head coach of the UMd. football team.
Recently, the Fridge's job security was about as thin as... Wait, that's probably not the word we meant to use.
The Terps were 2-10 this season, and have had losing seasons in four of their last six. That's the bad. But the good: he's 66-48 and has taken the Terps to six bowl games. Considering where the program was before he took it over -- the name "Ron Vanderlinden" still gives College Parkians hives -- that's no tiny feat.
But he can't rest on those big early laurels forever. (Insert your own crushing joke here).
Friedgen had been meeting with UMd.'s Athletic Director, giving her a plan for next year and an explanation and accounting of what went wrong this year. Reportedly, he's going to institute a more option-style offense next year, which will suit the team's personnel. And in his defense, the Terps did lose a number of key personnel to injuries this year.
Fridge told reporters:
"Keep the faith. We have a lot of guys coming back next year and I believe in this team very much. I think the future's pretty bright. We have three impressive young quarterbacks that are pretty good. We have all our running backs returning, as well as our wide receivers. All of our offensive linemen are back, except one, with a full year of experience under their belts. We had a very young team this season. We took our lumps this year, but we won't be taking our lumps next year."
While everyone's playing nice now, the biggest reason Fridge is back is likely because of his contract. Were the Terps to have rolled his carcass out of town, it would've cost them $4 million, on top of whatever big bucks they'd have to throw at the new coach to rebuild the program.
With those funds coming out of the UMd. system at a time that the system is already scaling back, the idea of dropping $5-6 million on the football program wasn't too appealing. Maryland's governor had, while not directly saying "no," hinted that he believed that it would have been a poor use of public money.
So whether he's back because they couldn't afford to dump him, or he's back because the plan he presented and his suggestions really will help, Fridge gets at least one more go-around. Terps fans just better hope that he's right about his plan.