Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, whose job was on the line entering this season after a 2-10 finish in 2009, will return to coach the program in 2011, the school announced Thursday evening.
“Based largely on the improved performance of our team and student-athletes this season, Coach Friedgen will be our head football coach next year,” athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a prepared statement. “Once this season is complete, Ralph and I will sit down to discuss the current state and future of the program. Right now, the team’s focus will be on winning the 2010 ACC championship and a bowl game, which our coaching staff and student-athletes have put themselves in position to do. We hope our fans, students and alums will come out and support us in the effort.”
This shouldn't come as any surprise, considering Maryland has made the biggest turnaround of any team in the ACC this year. Maryland was 2-7 at this point last year and is now 7-3 heading into Saturday's home game against Florida State. No other team’s win total has increased by more than three (NC State) from its 2009 record through 10 games.
Not only did Friedgen have the Terps bowl-eligible before November, he has them in position to win the Atlantic Division and play for the ACC title on Dec. 4 in Charlotte, N.C. Maryland needs to win its final two games, against FSU and NC State, to win the division.
“I’m excited about the direction of our program,” Friedgen said in the release. “We have a great of bunch of kids and a tremendous staff. I’m thankful for all the hard work they have put into this season. Right now we’re just concentrating on Florida State.”
This is also a smart move for Anderson, as it wouldn't make much economic sense to pay Friedgen's buyout after such a successful season. This will instead buy him some time to figure out which direction the program is headed and if the coach-in-waiting plan with offensive coordinator James Franklin is still the best option.