- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

Maryland's Ralph Friedgen was unanimously named ACC Coach of the Year in football yesterday by 69 members of the Atlantic Coast Sportswriters Association, becoming the first Terrapin coach to receive the honor since Bobby Ross in 1982.

"Extra special," Friedgen said of winning the award in his first year back at his alma mater. "I wanted to be a head coach for some time. It gives me credibility. It gives us credibility here."

Friedgen, 54, spent 32 seasons as an assistant before getting a top job. The No. 7 Terrapins improved their record from 5-6 in 2000 to 10-1 this season, won the ACC title and earned their highest ranking since 1985. They also gained a BCS berth and are waiting to learn their destination, with the Orange Bowl as the leading candidate.

Friedgen took over a program that had five consecutive losing seasons and hadn't won more than six games since 1985, and immediately turned it into the kind winner that hadn't been seen around College Park since he was an assistant to Ross in the early '80s. Maryland became the first school other than Florida State to win the ACC championship outright since 1992.

"He made us believe stuff we never thought was possible," linebacker E.J. Henderson said. "He made dreams become reality."

Henderson, an All-ACC selection and Butkus Award finalist, could become the league's overall or defensive player of the year when that announcement is made today. Bruce Perry, Maryland's All-ACC tailback, is a leading contender for conference offensive player of the year.

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