CFN Bowl Analysis ...
Maryland 51 ... East Carolina 20
And that’s what a BCS conference team is supposed to do to a non-BCS conference team.
East Carolina’s defense was the worst in the nation coming into the game, and Maryland took advantage as the offense showed its explosiveness and its balance as it ripped through the Pirates at will. Throw in the four turnovers and the 15 penalties and East Carolina got its doors blown off.
No, a win like this doesn’t mean that Ralph Friedgen really does deserve to stick around, and no, a win like this over a Conference USA team isn’t going to pack the stands, sell the luxury boxes, increase the season ticket base, or, basically fix the economy, to generate more of a football buzz at a basketball school.
Maryland football needs a kick in the pants, and merely winning under Friedgen wasn’t enough. Mike Leach will stir the pot. Gus Malzahn will generate the excitement needed. The program didn’t get stale under Friedgen, but as this year showed, if 9-4 doesn’t move the needle, it’s time to make a change. However, Friedgen has left the cupboards stocked.
Led by QB Danny O’Brien, there are plenty of young talents on both sides of the ball, there’s good athleticism, and there’s a good enough foundation to win with right away. This is a good job that can be molded into a great job, and while Friedgen did wonders for the program, there’s nothing wrong with an athletic department wanting to go from Point B to Point C. This win over East Carolina was another step in the right direction, and it was a fitting way for the Friedgen era to end.
Now it’s time for the new head man to have the same bowl success in something other than the Military Bowl.
26 penalties. Six turnovers. This wasn't exactly
- Knock, knock, Who's there? An East Carolina
defensive line. Ruffin, the sales pitch is easy to
recruits. If you can play, there's a spot for you
- Da'Rel Scott had a lot of room to run through, but
he also showed off the skills that made him so
feared when he was 100% The miserable ECU defensive
front seven had a lot to do with this, but averaging
7.8 yards per carry was impressive no matter who it
- Next year, it'll be interesting to see what ECU QB
Dominique Davis can do when he's not asked to hang
50 points on the board to keep the team competitive.
He has to force throws to try to keep the offense
pressing, but he's not going to have Dwayne Harris
to go to.
Ralph Friedgen still wants to work. He’s given prospective employers a lot to think about over the past few months.
While the Fridge is on the latter end of his coaching career and isn’t the most lovable bloke to be around, there’s no denying that he’s leaving Maryland on a high note. Heck, the guy was named ACC Coach of the Year and just got done wrapping up an improbable nine-win season by blowing up overmatched East Carolina in the Military Bowl. That’s quite a turnaround for a man who won two games in 2009 and was clinging to his job before getting a reprieve. At 63, he’s unlikely to get promoted or go back to being a coordinator, which makes you wonder if he’d consider an FCS opening with, say, a Big South, CAA, or Southern Conference school.
- From the whispers about Friedgen’s possible replacements, talented redshirt freshman QB Danny O’Brien ought to permanently dismiss any notions of transferring. He’ll be in great hands if Maryland is able to land free agent Mike Leach or Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
- No bowl berth can mask all of the problems facing an East Carolina squad that finished 1-5 and has holes just about everywhere. The Pirates got a break that Lincoln Riley’s high-octane passing attack clicked early, but the precocious coordinator has been the subject of interest for larger schools hoping to fill the same slot.
- A healthy Da’Rel Scott is a scary Da’Rel Scott. He’s had a checkered career in College Park that’s been marred by injuries, but has the size-speed combo to make NFL scouts give him a long, hard look in the spring.
By Matt Zemek
1) The mediocre crowd at RFK Stadium was partly due to Ralph Friedgen’s inability to move the needle at Maryland in his final years on the job; that’s a fair point. However, the paltry attendance numbers were more a product of East Carolina’s presence as a (6-6 Conference USA) opponent. Please take note of that fact. If we didn’t have so many bowl tie-ins, bowl directors could mix and match teams with much more freedom and leeway. A Maryland-Kentucky or Maryland-Pittsburgh game would have delivered a bigger crowd and more buzz.
2) After all the carping and chirping and woofing East Carolina did in the first half, the Pirates are in no position to be angry at Maryland’s fourth-quarter deep balls. Besides, one can allow Ralph Friedgen to go out with an extra bang, right? This should be a non-issue, but especially because ECU talked and hollered far more than it had a right to in the first half, when it was playing some low-grade football.
3) Once again, another 6-6 team stinks it up in a bowl game. Once again, a team plays in a bowl and leaves the stadium with a losing (6-7) record. Rewarding mediocrity is just not American, noble or valuable to student athletes. Be 7-5 if you want a bowl game. Is that a tired point? Yes. Does that mean the point should be withheld after a dog-with-fleas game such as this one? Definitely not.
4) A really good program (Texas) or a big-name program (UCLA) should think about hiring Ralph Friedgen. This is an elite play caller, just not an elite head coach (but a solid one).
5) Dominique Davis was supposed to be motivated to play against an ACC opponent, since he played at Boston College a few years ago. Guess not.
6) Did Maryland need to fire Friedgen to get a ticket-selling magnet into College Park? The short answer: maybe. The longer answer: after last year’s 2-10 season, not after Friedgen made improvements and delivered a quality 9-4 campaign. Frank Solich of Nebraska could have been fired when he went 7-7 in 2002, but he got axed only after going 9-3 in 2003. There’s a right way and a right time to fire somebody. Maryland should have done the deed at the end of 2009.