The Washington Times - August 4, 2008, 05:48PM

Well, give Ralph Friedgen credit for his never-ending paranoia. He’s consistent.

It might seem like I’m giving him a hard time for closing the calisthenics portion of practice. It’s certainly his right to do so, and it’s within his rights to close things completely.


But it’s also worth pointing out Friedgen belongs to the species known as Paranoidius footballcoachicus, an affliction that is all too common throughout his chosen vocation. So it’s not like I’m trying to pick on Ralph in particular.

It’s just that it’s tough to tell precisely what this move is supposed to accomplish. It’s not like reporters actually can talk to players even during stretching without a lecture from the big fella. About the only thing it does is deter people from showing up early and watching people enter the practice field.

Oh, wait, that’s almost exactly what it’s supposed to accomplish. Because if you’re a reporter, really what else is there to do at practice other than take attendance and make sure all the boys are getting their exercise.

Ralph’s no dummy. He’s not going to show off anything in the first five (open) periods of practice that could come back and bit him. Hey, look, wide receivers are working on precision routes. Quarterbacks are performing the Sesame drill (a nickname for trying to hit a red square borrowed from the Official Dot-Com Diva). No surprises.

The new edict isn’t going to make much of an impact on a guy out there every day. It took less than four periods to complete an attendance sweep, and the only scholarship guys not on the field were precisely the ones Ralph said wouldn’t be there. If the point is to either discourage folks from taking attendance or just to make it difficult, well, that ignores what reporters would want to see at practice. But in its current form, it’s still manageable.

But for a guy who has recently complained about the lack of coverage his team receives, the one day a bunch of photographers and cameramen are literally standing by the gate waiting to get in might not be the right time to enact such a policy. It is Media Day, and there’s a bigger crowd here than at any other time in a typical season.

Chances are, they probably won’t be back soon anyway, but why antagonize the people who could actually help increase something you seem to want?

It seems like a mixed signal at best. But there’s nothing mixed about the paranoia already on display in College Park on Day One of camp.

 —- Patrick Stevens