His arms linked with his players', Ralph Friedgen entered RFK Stadium for the last time as coach of the University of Maryland Terrapins football team, giving the team extra incentive in its Military Bowl match-up with East Carolina.
For the fans who filled the Maryland section, it was a bitter sweet goodbye. Sandy Clinton said she wishes Friedgen's departure had been handled better.
For many Maryland fans, the day began with tailgating in the RFK parking lot, with some wearing a special homemade tribute to Friedgen. Mary Cromwell said the RF button "stands for Ralph Friedgen. He and his wife have done more for the school than anyone could expect."
Around RFK, some fans held signs saying goodbye to a great coach, a friend , a former player and an alum. They cheered every score and defensive stand and the band hearalded the final victory of the Friedgen years.
The official tailgate party was held at the D.C. Armory. It sold out at $20 per ticket, with proceeds from the event and the game going to a good cause. Erik Moses, of the Washington Convention & Sports Authority, said the former Eagle Bank Bowl's current name ties in its mission of providing support for the military through the USO and its sponsor, Northrop Grummond.