COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland's dismal football season is over, yet one important question remains unanswered: Will Ralph Friedgen return as head coach?
The Terrapins finished with a seven-game losing streak and a school-record 10 defeats. A 19-17 loss to Boston College on Saturday concluded Friedgen's ninth season at his alma mater and left open the possibility he won't be asked back to make it an even 10, much less complete a contract that expires after the 2011 season.
Friedgen will soon meet with athletic director Debbie Yow to determine his fate. If he is dismissed, the school will have to fork over a $4 million buyout, and the 62-year-old coach won't get the opportunity to take this young team to a higher level.
Friedgen made it clear Saturday night that he wants nothing more than to come back.
"These kids never quit on me. Why would I want to quit on them?" Friedgen said. "I want to be there when they're good, so we can think about these times and laugh about them."
Friedgen took Maryland to the Atlantic Coast Conference title in his first season, has gone to six bowl games and is 66-46 overall. But the Terps have suffered through four losing seasons in the last six years.
This season, Maryland finished with the worst record in the ACC, had a minus-6 turnover differential, averaged over six penalties a game and was outscored 116-54 in the first quarter.
"I don't know what the problem is, or what's going on," junior linebacker Alex Wujciak said.
Some of the blame can be attributed to inexperience. Maryland had only 14 seniors, and 58 of the 85 scholarship players began the season with at least three years of eligibility remaining.
The defense, under first-year coordinator Don Brown, improved as players became more comfortable with his system. But the offense never really clicked.
Center Phil Costa was the lone senior on the line, and senior quarterback Chris Turner displayed a solid arm but very little mobility.
The unit was directed by coordinator James Franklin, who last February signed a contract that calls for him to succeed Friedgen after the 2011 season or receive a $1 million buyout.
If Friedgen has his way, he will work this offseason with Franklin to design an attack that will utilize the running skills of sophomore quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who ran for 129 yards against Virginia Tech after taking over the injured Turner.
"I talked to James earlier about some things," Friedgen said. "Personnel-wise, there are some things that really fit for us that we don't do now. Mainly we didn't do them because of Chris, because it wasn't his cup of tea.
"But I think with some of the quarterbacks we have in our program, it might make things easier for ourselves up front. I know from past experience it really helps you from a throwing standpoint, because it will keep people honest. But I don't want to get into that right now. We'll see what happens."