Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson made it official, Ralph Friedgen has been bought out of his final year of his contract. That buyout is approximately two million dollars in guaranteed compensation and benefits.
“I sincerely thank and commend Ralph for his decade of good work as Maryland’s Head Football Coach as well as his and his wife Gloria’s efforts on behalf of his alma mater over the last ten years,” said Anderson said in a statement released by the University. “The decision to honor the financial terms of Ralph’s current contract, while moving immediately forward with a national search for the best coach to lead Maryland football into the future was not an easy one. I am confident it was the right business decision for our long term strategy to move Maryland Athletics from good to great.”
Anderson said in a press conference that the tipping point of the coaching change was James Franklin becoming the head coach at Vanderbilt. Anderson said that Friedgen would still be the head coach if Franklin stayed at Maryland.
Neither Anderson nor Friedgen felt a lame duck season was in the best interest of either party but a contract extension for Friedgen and bringing in a new coaching staff wasn’t happening.
“I wasn’t prepared and I wasn’t willing to do that.” Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said at a news conference. “I was looking to move the program in a different direction but I wasn’t willing to give him [Friedgen] a contract extension.”
Throughout the press conference Anderson kept referring to this as a business decision and for the most part business was good on the field but the bottom line was suffering. The Terps played to less than capacity at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday's and their were empty and unsold suites which is a cash cow to football programs.
“We are all concerned about that but the thing is is that I’m looking long term.” Anderson said. “If we do the right thing long term we are going to have people come and support the University of Maryland’s football program. A person in my position would take that into account but there were many things taken into account.”
Mike Leach has been rumored to already be in line to be the next head coach of the Terrapins. During the press conference the only thing about Leach the Maryland A.D. would admit is that he's on the list of candidates. Anderson wouldn't reveal who else is in play but hopes to have a coach in place by January 4th.
Friedgen will coach the Terps in the Military Bowl December 29th in Washsington, D.C.
Here's video of today's press conference. (Thanks CSN Washington)