Maryland AD Kevin Anderson made it official on Monday, announcing that the school will buy out the final year of Ralph Friedgen's contract for about $2 million. The school attempted to negotiate Friedgen's "resignation," but he refused. As a result, the school will be forced to fire him and pay him $2 million.
Anderson added that the contract buyout was part of a "strategic business decision," and that his hand was pretty much forced after James Franklin took the head coaching position at Vanderbilt (and took a bunch of Friedgen's key assistant coaches with him).
Fridge will, however, coach in the Military Bowl against East Carolina (adjust your bowl confidence picks accordingly).
If the whole DeFilippo-Jagodzinski melodrama wasn't proof enough of the cutthroat nature of college football, Maryland's buyout / firing of Friedgen is your latest example. An offensive guard for the Terrapins from 1966-1968, Friedgen took a perennial 2-3 win team and got the Terps to double digit wins in each of his first three seasons, including an ACC Co-Championship in 2001. But there wasn't enough winning the last few years (22-10 in the ACC pre-expansion, 21-27 post-expansion) and fans and alumni responded with some poor showings at the Byrd Stadium gate.
Firing one of your own, a coach that went 74-49 in 10 seasons is pretty brutal, but it's just the nature of college football today. Chalk this one up to a "strategic business decision."
A nationwide search for Friedgen's successor will begin immediately, but really, this seems like it's Mike Leach's for the taking. While Anderson shied away from the notion that Mike Leach would be the next coach, Leach has to be on a short-list of candidates. Former Terrapin assistant Mike Locksley is likely also on that short list (he's a Towson grad and knows the area well) as well as former Notre Dame and Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. Even "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" Randy Edsall has shown interest in the ACC's most recent head coaching vacancy.
If Leach isn't coach of the Terps before the new year, I'll be VERY surprised.