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Ralph Friedgen
Position: Head Coach
  • Terp Highlights Under Friedgen

    Ralph Friedgen spent 10 years (2001-10) as head coach at the University of Maryland with a reputation as one of the top offensive minds in college football.

    Friedgen lifted the Terrapins to unprecedented heights in his tenure, taking the team to seven bowl games, including a pair of New Year's Day appearances, and a school record five bowl victories. Prior to Friedgen's arrival, Maryland had just one bowl game appearance in the previous 15 seasons.

    He was the 33rd head coach in school history and ranks third in school history in career victories (75-50) and fourth in winning percentage (.600). Friedgen's 75 wins rank 10th on the Atlantic Coast Conference all-time list and are more than the Terps had (60) in the 15 years prior to his arrival.

    The consensus national coach of the year in 2001 when he led Maryland to its first ACC title in 16 years, Friedgen ranks third in ACC history with five bowl wins and is one of eight coaches with seven or more bowl game appearances. He became the 13th coach in ACC history to amass 70 wins with the victory over Duke (10/2/10).

    He was voted ACC Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2010, the final one coming when he engineered the second-best turnaround in the FBS. Maryland improved its win total by seven games in 2010 from the previous season and posted the 14th nine-win campaign in school history after finishing 9-4, including a victory in the Military Bowl. Three of those nine-win seasons came under Friedgen.

    Ralph Friedgen was the second-ever alum to serve as Maryland head football coach.

    He drew on his nearly 40 years of collegiate coaching experience in 2010 to rebound from an uncharacteristic losing year in 2009.

    The 2009 season began with promise, but injuries forced 24 freshmen into action, many at key positions, and that inexperience led to five losses by four points or less. The 2010 campaign featured a still young, but gritty bunch who won by making big plays, holding onto the football and coming up with a key stop with the game on the line.

    The offense scored 10 times on plays of 40 yards or more, the defense scored four times (tied for sixth in the FBS) and the Terps ranked tied for fourth in the country in turnover margin.

    All that led to the Terps being in the hunt for the ACC's Atlantic Division title a year after they had just two victories.

    However, being in the mix for conference titles was not new to Friedgen-led teams. The Terps were in the hunt for the ACC title in two of the previous three seasons prior to 2009.

    In 2008, the Terrapins finished 8-5, marking the fifth time in the previous eight years Maryland reached the eight-win plateau, and came within a game of reaching the ACC title game. The Terps also collected their fourth bowl win under Friedgen with a 42-35 triumph over Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.

    The 2008 team was at its best playing against the top competition, winning four of five games versus Top 25 teams (Associated Press poll).

    Maryland was one of just five teams in the country to defeat at least four ranked teams in 2008. The other four programs (Florida, USC, Oklahoma and Texas) all ended the year ranked in the Top 5 of the final AP poll.

    In 2006, his first season as offensive coordinator since becoming head coach, Friedgen directed the team to a 9-4 record, marking the fourth nine-win campaign in the previous six seasons and 13th in school history. The Terps culminated the 2006 season with a convincing 24-7 victory over Purdue in the Champs Sports Bowl.

    Friedgen led the team to another bowl appearance in 2007 despite having to persevere through numerous injuries as only three offensive players started all 13 games. In all there were 17 members of the two-deep which missed at least one game.

    In spite of the injuries, Friedgen had the Terps at their best against the toughest competition as Maryland defeated a pair of top 10 teams in 2007. In the previous 115 years of football, the Terps had never defeated two Top 10 teams in the same season.

    The wins over No. 10 Rutgers and No. 8 Boston College put the Terps among elite company nationally as well. Maryland was one of only four teams in the country (also LSU, Kentucky and Illinois) to defeat two Top 10 teams during the 2007 campaign.

    The 2006 team started 3-2 before reeling off a five-game winning streak, which placed them in the midst of the ACC Atlantic Division race. The Terps lost to eventual champion Wake Forest in the final game of the regular season, however, Maryland was a force in the league race throughout the year, enabling it to earn the fourth slot among ACC postseason bids and a trip to Orlando, Fla., for the Champs Sports Bowl.

    A long-time successful assistant coach at Georgia Tech, where he was credited with overseeing one of the nation's most potent offensive attacks, Friedgen had one of the best starts for a head coach in ACC history.

    Not only were his 50 wins after six seasons more than those of Terps legend Jerry Claiborne, they also fell just shy of the all-time ACC mark of 51, set by Clemson's Danny Ford in the early 1980s. In addition, in his first three seasons at the helm of the Terrapin program, Friedgen became the first coach in conference lore to lead a team to three-straight seasons of 10 wins or more. His 36 wins in his first four years ranked him in the top 10 in NCAA history, surpassing the fourth-year marks of coaches such as Frank Leahy and Joe Paterno.

    Friedgen led the Terps to eight bowl game appearances as head coach.

    The consensus national coach of the year in 2001 after leading Maryland to its first ACC Championship since 1985, Friedgen and company returned Maryland to prominence on the national scene.

    Long overlooked as a head-coaching candidate, the Maryland alum was tapped as the Terps' top man following the 2000 season, and he wasted no time in returning the program to the glory days it achieved when Friedgen was an assistant to Bobby Ross in the 1980s.

    Nine years ago, in his first season as the Terps' grid boss, Maryland won its first seven games and eventually halted Florida State's reign as perennial ACC champion, earning the league's automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series' FedEx Orange Bowl. By winning the ACC title that season, Friedgen became the first mentor in league history to win the championship in his first year as a head coach.

    In 2002, despite a 1-2 start and without 19 seniors from the previous year, the Terps made their way back to a major bowl game, winning 10 of their last 11 games and finishing tied for second in the ACC. The 2003 campaign provided a bit of déjà vu for Friedgen and the Terrapins as they again started 1-2, and once more ran off 10 wins in their final 11 games to earn a second New Year's Day bowl bid in three years.

    By winning 11 games in 2002, Friedgen became just the second coach in school history to hit that mark, matching Claiborne's 11-win campaign in 1976.

    Friedgen's teams had some impressive performances in their last six bowl appearances. The Terps posted lopsided victories over Tennessee (30-3) in the 2002 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and over West Virginia (41-7) in the 2004 Toyota Gator Bowl. In all, Maryland has out-scored its last six bowl opponents, 202-94.

    His offensive success notwithstanding, Friedgen's teams at Maryland have been solid on defense, ranking among the nation's leaders annually while producing the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year in three of the last 10 seasons (E.J. Henderson in 2001 and 2002; D'Qwell Jackson in 2005).

    Named the winner of the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country in 1999 while at Tech, Friedgen brought 32 years of assistant coaching experience (including 21 as an offensive coordinator either in college or the NFL) with him in his return to College Park.

    Friedgen (pronounced FREE-jun) owns the rare distinction of coordinating the offense for both a collegiate national champion (Georgia Tech in 1990) and a Super Bowl team (San Diego in 1994).

    Friedgen spent 20 seasons with the aforementioned Ross in coaching stops at The Citadel, Maryland, Georgia Tech and the NFL's San Diego Chargers. He returned to Tech in 1997, where he served another successful stint as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under good friend George O'Leary, now the head coach at the University of Central Florida.

    A 1970 graduate of Maryland, where he earned a degree in physical education, Friedgen launched his coaching career as a graduate assistant before heading off to a series of jobs that included The Citadel (1973-79), William & Mary (1980) and Murray State (1981).

    In 1982, he returned to Maryland as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach under Ross, with Friedgen's tenure lasting until 1986. During that stretch, the Terps captured three consecutive ACC championships (1983-85) and played in four bowl games. All told, the Terrapins were 39-15-1 from 1982-86 and won two bowl games (the Sun Bowl in 1984 and the Cherry Bowl in 1985). It is that type of success Friedgen has reinstilled in his current group of Terrapins.

    The Ross-Friedgen connection began in 1973, when Ross hired the former Maryland offensive guard as defensive line coach at The Citadel. Friedgen spent seven seasons at The Citadel, the last three as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. He then worked one season (1980) as offensive coordinator at William & Mary and one season (1981) as assistant head coach at Murray State before Ross tapped him to be his offensive coordinator at Maryland in 1982.

    During his five-year stay at Maryland under Ross, Friedgen was instrumental in the development of future pro quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich and Stan Gelbaugh, all of whom spent at least 10 seasons in the National Football League. Esiason played professionally from 1984-97, Reich from 1985-98 and Gelbaugh from 1986-95.

    Friedgen followed Ross to Georgia Tech in 1987, becoming the Yellow Jackets' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the next five seasons, including the 1990 campaign when Tech, unranked in the preseason, captured the National Championship with an 11-0-1 record. The national title came just two years after the Jackets had posted back-to-back seasons of three wins or less.

    When Ross was named head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 1992, he tapped Friedgen to serve as running game coordinator for two seasons (1992-93) before elevating him to offensive coordinator in 1994, when the Chargers advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. During his time with the Chargers, Friedgen helped a club that had not made the playoffs in a decade reach postseason play three times in five seasons.

    Known for developing balanced offensive attacks with multiple looks, Tech was one of only two teams in the country in 1999 to average at least 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Tech also accomplished the feat under Friedgen's guidance in 1990, '91 and '98. The 1999 team, with Joe Hamilton at quarterback, set 59 school records, rewriting many marks established by the 1990 national championship team, which was led by another Friedgen pupil, Shawn Jones (1989-92). Friedgen was a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach in 1998 when the Ramblin' Wreck set a then-school record with 50 touchdowns.

    The first Maryland alum since Bob Ward (1967-68) to serve as the Terps' head football coach, Friedgen originally came to Maryland as a quarterback in the mid-`60s and spent most of his career as an offensive lineman, lettering in 1966 and `68 and capturing Academic All-ACC honors. He was a two-time winner of the George C. Cook Memorial Award (1968-69) for having the highest academic average on the football team.

    Friedgen was a high school quarterback in Harrison, N.Y.

    Friedgen's coaching roots run deep. His father, also named Ralph (though not a "Sr."), was a high school coach for more than 30 years and masterminded, among other teams, the 1964 Westchester County (N.Y.) High School team that went undefeated and averaged 44 points per game running what was then an unusual multiple offense. It was an offense run by a 190-pound quarterback later recruited by Maryland who shared his name. Maybe as a sign of things to come, the younger Ralph called all of his team's offensive plays from his junior year on.

    Friedgen and his wife, the former Gloria Spina, have three daughters: Kelley, Kristina and Katie. Gloria is the Coordinator of Alumni Affairs and Outreach for the School of Public Health at Maryland. Kelley is in her third year as an in-house attorney at Merck and Co.; Kristina graduated from Maryland in 2008 after majoring in theater (she is also a certified massage therapist); and Katie completed her undergraduate studies in the honors art program in May, 2010.

    Friedgen was honored for his dedication to his family in June of 2007 when he was named father of the year by the Washington D.C. Father's Day Council.



    The Friedgen File

    Full Name - Ralph Harry Friedgen
    Pronunciation - FREE-jun
    Date of Birth - April 4, 1947
    Hometown - Harrison, N.Y.
    Alma Mater - Maryland, '70
    Family - Wife, Gloria; daughters, Kelley, Kristina, Katie
    Playing Exp. - Guard, two letters at Maryland ('66 and `68)
    Years as Coach - 42 (37 in college)

    Coaching Experience

    Maryland
    2008-10: Head Coach
    2006-07: Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
    2001-05: Head Coach
    Georgia Tech
    1997-2000: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    San Diego Chargers
    1994-96: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator
    1992-93: Assistant Coach - Running Game Coordinator/H-Backs/Tight Ends
    Georgia Tech
    1987-91: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
    Maryland
    1982-86: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
    Murray State
    1981: Assistant Head Coach
    William & Mary
    1980: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator
    The Citadel
    1977-79: Assistant Coach - Offensive Coordinator
    1973-76: Assistant Coach - Defensive Line
    Maryland
    1969-72: Graduate Assistant

    Ralph Friedgen's Bowl History

    11-5 Overall, 5-2 as a head coach (years as head coach in bold)

    1982 -- Aloha Bowl (Washington 21, Maryland 20)
    1983 -- Citrus Bowl (Tennessee 30, Maryland 23)
    1984 -- Sun Bowl (Maryland 28, Tennessee 27)
    1985 -- Cherry Bowl (Maryland 35, Syracuse 18)
    1990 -- Citrus Bowl (Georgia Tech 45, Nebraska 21)
    1991 -- Aloha Bowl (Georgia Tech 18, Stanford 17)
    1997 -- Carquest Bowl (Georgia Tech 35, West Virginia 30)
    1998 -- Gator Bowl (Georgia Tech 35, Notre Dame 28)
    1999 -- Gator Bowl (Miami 28, Georgia Tech 13)
    2001 -- Orange Bowl (Florida 56, Maryland 23)
    2002 - Peach Bowl (Maryland 31, Tennessee 3)
    2003 - Gator Bowl (Maryland 41, West Virginia 7)
    2006 - Champs Sports Bowl (Maryland 24, Purdue 7)
    2007 - Emerald Bowl (Oregon State 21, Maryland 14)
    2008 - Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (Maryland 42, Nevada 35)
    2010 - Military Bowl (Maryland 51, East Carolina 21)


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