The Washington Times - October 31, 2008, 09:04AM

Happy Halloween, everybody.

The Great Pumpkin isn’t rising (especially in Knoxville), and Ralph Friedgen isn’t planning on making his way into College Park for a surprise appearance in the wee hours of the morning.

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The latter, of course, is for the best.

In today’s dead-tree edition, I looked back at Maryland’s Halloween melee from three years ago. I had multiple people in the program insist in the last few weeks it was football players who were first assaulted, but rehashing that night isn’t the reason for the story.

The point is that it is extremely difficult to believe it will happen again, particularly this year. Part of that is because guys like Edwin Williams and Danny Oquendo (who I talked to for this story) saw a season go down the drain because of the circus-like conditions around the program that November.

But a more significant factor is that it seems like it’s a well-behaved group. Friedgen constantly says it’s a good group, praising everything from a rock-solid senior class to a group of true freshmen he often says is both talented and rarely on his infamous “lists” for missing class and the like.

My day-to-day experiences in College Park confirm Ralph’s claims, and that probably gets lost in the shuffle of things. I’m not saying everyone in the program is a saint. But if you take 100 people from any group in any walk of life – football team, U.S. Senate, software engineers, hockey moms, whatever – the odds are very good two or three of them won’t be exemplary examples of the greatness of humanity.

On to other matters …

* Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun writes that alcohol will be permitted in the new Byrd Stadium suites. Joe the Fan will still have to get drunk in the parking lot – all while cursing the calamity of noon kickoffs – but those cutting five-figure checks to see seven football games will have the right to imbibe.

* That stunt Kentucky and few others pulled by moving Midnight Madness up a week? There’s another loophole Billy Gillispiewon’t be able to exploit next year.

Patrick Stevens