The dismissal of Ralph Friedgen comes at a curious time for Maryland. Yes, the Terrapins struggled to a 2-10 record last season under Friedgen, but they rebounded this year to finish 8-4. That six-win improvement was the second-best in all of FBS. Only Miami (OH) had a larger improvement -- and their coach, Michael Haywood, earned himself a promotion into a higher coaching position.
Largest Win Improvement
FBS Teams From Last Season
Plus, Friedgen is far from a new face in the ACC football world. Only one coach has a longer current tenure with his ACC team, and no one is likely to match that coach’s longevity. It’s Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who has been there for 24 seasons. Friedgen and Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe are next at 10 years each.
But maybe it’s the ever-changing coaching roster in the conference that leads to Maryland making a change.
Every ACC team (aside from previously mentioned Virginia Tech and Wake Forest) will have changed football coaches within the past five seasons. It’s to the point where Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien, both in their fourth seasons, are now the veterans of the conference and not the newbies.
Friedgen also will leave Maryland with this remarkable fact on his resume -- he bookended his coaching career with Coach of the Year awards in his first and last season.
So when was the last time the ACC Coach of the Year didn’t come back the next year?
You have to go back almost 20 years, to 1992, when Wake Forest’s Bill Dooley won the award. Dooley went out on his own terms. He announced he’d retire before the season and made good on his word after it ended. And in an interesting did-you-know, a coach named Jim Caldwell took over for Dooley at Wake Forest.
Yes, the same Jim Caldwell who now has a Super Bowl coaching appearance on his resume, the current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. At the time, Caldwell was the first black head coach in ACC history.
The two previous coaches who didn’t return after winning ACC Coach of the Year both left for jobs in greener pastures. Steve Spurrier won in 1989 with Duke and left for Florida the next year. Charley Pell won in 1978 at Clemson and also left for Florida.
Friedgen won’t be leaving for Florida. But he does leave with four Maryland bowl wins to his name and a chance for a fifth. That’s more than any coach in school history can claim.