The Washington Times - February 10, 2009, 10:14AM

The question keeps coming up, so it’s probably worth addressing in some detail: Was Maryland’s decision to appoint a head coaching in waiting a good idea.

Some would say no. Others would say yes.

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In all honesty, it’ll be tough to tell until a few years into James Franklin’s tenure (if it indeed comes as expected) whether it was smart or not. But one thing that probably shouldn’t be criticized is Maryland’s willingness to hire an untested young assistant rather than trolling for retreads.

It’s an example of the Terrapins acknowledging their place on the college football food chain, and doing their best to make the most of things.

Yes, the job in College Park is better than it was a decade ago. That doesn’t make it elite. So to go out and lock up a guy other people seem to want a bit – not a bad move.

Plus, it’s not like Maryland hasn’t gone the assistant route (for better or worse) before. Here’s the full rundown of the Terps’ hires since World War II. For purposes of simplicity, let’s say Franklin takes over for Ralph Friedgen in 2012 when the Fridge’s contract is up:

Coach Age Last job
Years Record Next job
Bear Bryant
32 N.C. Pre-Flight
1945 6-2-1 Kentucky HC
C. Shaughnessy
54 Pittsburgh HC
1946 3-6 Rams HC
Jim Tatum
34 Oklahoma HC
1947-55 73-15-4 UNC HC
Tommy Mont
34 Maryland ass’t
1956-58 11-18-1 DePauw HC
Tom Nugent
46 Fla. State HC
1959-65 36-34 Broadcasting
Lou Saban
44 Bills HC
1966 4-6 Broncos HC
Bob Ward
39 Army ass’t
1967-68 2-17 Ottawa ass’t
Roy Lester
46 R. Montgomery HS
1969-71 7-25 Paint Branch HS
Jerry Claiborne
44 Virginia Tech HC
1972-81 77-37-3 Kentucky HC
Bobby Ross
45 Chiefs ass’t
1982-86 39-19-1 Ga. Tech HC
Joe Krivak
51 Maryland OC
1987-91 20-34-2 Virginia QBs (‘95) 
Mark Duffner
39 Holy Cross HC
1992-96 20-35 Bengals LBs
Ron Vanderlinden
41 Northwestern DC
1997-00 15-29 Penn State LB
Ralph Friedgen
54 Georgia Tech OC
2001- 64-36 NA
James Franklin
40 Maryland OC
2012?- 0-0 NA

So let’s see. Maryland has hired one major-college head coach among its last eight football hires (not including Franklin). Only two of the last 12 hires were older than 50.

Is Franklin a sure thing? No, but very few people are. Ralph Friedgen wasn’t and he’s produced six bowl appearances. Ron Vanderlinden wasn’t and he’s now churning out great linebackers in Happy Valley. Nick Saban isn’t walking through those doors.

In this case, Maryland identified someone who could thrive in College Park. It also happened to be someone who wanted to be at Maryland, which historically hasn’t always been the easiest combination to unearth.

Sure, there’s no way to know if it work out. But Maryland probably made the best of its situation, and that’s just being realistic.

Patrick Stevens