- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. | Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen will return next season, even after the Terrapins set a school record for losses this fall.

The school made the announcement Tuesday after Friedgen spent parts of the previous two days meeting with athletic director Debbie Yow.

“I just talked about the future,” Friedgen said during an afternoon teleconference. “We sat down and talked about the positives and negatives and where we can get better.”

That would seem to be in many places since Saturday’s 19-17 loss to Boston College wrapped up a 2-10 season. It was the worst year in Friedgen’s tenure, which began with a 31-8 mark in his first three seasons but slumped to 35-38 in the six years since.

Yow said she made the decision Monday night. She informed Friedgen he would return Tuesday morning during a phone call from Bloomington, where Maryland’s basketball team played Indiana on Tuesday night.

Yow said she took several factors into account while making the decision, including her cash-strapped department’s financial situation. Friedgen is owed $4 million in the final two seasons of his contract. Yow also said Friedgen demonstrated “willingness to enthusiastically help us sell tickets, knowing it won’t be easy.”

As the losses piled up last season, attendance at Byrd Stadium plummeted. Maryland’s average home crowd was 44,452, the lowest since Friedgen’s first season, and Maryland’s ticket revenue fell $600,000 this season.

Last week’s finale was the smallest single-game crowd since the last game of Ron Vanderlinden’s tenure in 2000. Yow said Friedgen planned to send a letter to season-ticket holders this week.

There were other factors, including the Terps’ rash of injuries and youth nearly everywhere but quarterback. She also said she was impressed with Friedgen’s plan to turn things around, but Yow declined to elaborate on that plan.

“I don’t think Coach Friedgen wants to be a coach who is remembered for trailing off in his career,” she said. “I respect that.”

Maryland has 29 players who started at least one game and can return next season. One is quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who started two games in November and played extensively in two more after senior Chris Turner was injured.

With that in mind, Yow said she believes it is possible for the Terps to produce a winning season next fall.

“In 2010, I think what would be reasonable would be to have a winning record in the regular season,” Yow said. “I think 7-5, that would be reasonable at this point. That doesn’t necessarily likely lead us to the top-25 status, but I think it is reasonable… to anticipate seven wins.”

Yow’s decision ensures a 10th season for Friedgen, who ranks fourth in program history in victories (66) and winning percentage (.589). The fate of Friedgen’s staff remains uncertain. Only offensive coordinator James Franklin - who will receive $1 million if he is not named head coach by January 2012 - and defensive coordinator Don Brown are under contract for next season.

Maryland’s assistants were on the road recruiting Tuesday, and Friedgen said he hasn’t had time to assess what - if any - staff changes might be made.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down,” he said. “I don’t want to say offhand right now. I’ve been busy recruiting, telling recruits what the situation is here. Then when I have some time, I’ll sit back and evaluate everything and decide what we’re going to do.”

Friedgen said he and Yow agreed to move forward and acknowledged that while lots of people - fans, alumni, administrators and himself - were far from pleased with the just-completed season, he was thankful to have a chance to revive the program.

“Obviously, when you’re 2-10, you’re going to get evaluated,” he said. “She’s my supervisor, and she was waiting for all the information to be in. So we sat down [and] talked, and she decided to stay the course.”

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