The Washington Times - February 6, 2009, 11:49AM

Maryland will officially announced James Franklin’s spot as Ralph Friedgen’s successor at a 3 p.m. press conference.

Call it head-coach-in-waiting. Call it head-coach designate. Call it appointed successor.

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Whatever the case, it’s official.

The timing is sort of curious, since this is a good time for coaches to get as far away from campus as possible. Signing day has just wrapped up, and the July-to-early-February grind is finally over.

For example, Wisconsin did this sort of thing in July. Texas did it in November, Florida State and Oregon in December, and Purdue and Kentucky in January.

Either way, it’s a smart move for the Terps. Franklin looks like he can be a promising program CEO, and he’s young and charismatic as well.

And not to get too political, but it ensures Maryland’s next man in the big chair will be its first minority head football coach. That makes Maryland a bit of a pacesetter, since Miami’s Randy Shannon is the only minority head football coach at a BCS conference school. Shannon and former Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell are only minority coaches in the ACC’s football history.

Overall, there’s a lot of winners in all of this. Maryland gets security and stability. Friedgen won’t have to worry about an ugly departure if the Terps are middling-or-worse this fall, and can comfortably ease into a role as the Grand Old Man of Maryland Football when his career ends. Franklin, who just turned 37 this week, is pretty much assured a major-college head coaching gig by the time he’s 40.

More to come later in the day.

Patrick Stevens