- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen declined to address his future - and rumors of his possible ouster at season’s end - on Sunday.

The ninth-year coach is mired in the roughest season of his tenure and is arguably coming off the season’s most difficult setback, a 29-26 loss at Florida State in which the Seminoles scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute.

The nature of the defeat only amplified chatter Friedgen could coach the Terps (2-9, 1-6 ACC) for the final time Saturday against Boston College.

“I don’t even want to get into that,” Friedgen said. “I want to keep the focus on Boston College right now.”

Athletic director Debbie Yow declined to comment on Friedgen’s status Saturday, citing a long-established policy of not speaking about any coach’s performance until after a season.

Maryland is in the midst of its worst season since 1997, when the Terps went 2-9 in Ron Vanderlinden’s debut. The Terps have never lost 10 games in a season, a distinct possibility with bowl-bound Boston College (7-4, 4-3) coming to Byrd Stadium on Saturday.

Friedgen has two years remaining on a contract extension he signed in 2004 after leading Maryland to a 31-8 record in his first three seasons. The Terps are 35-37 with three bowl appearances in the six seasons since the new contract was announced.

Friedgen is due about $4 million over the final two seasons of the deal. A source familiar with the program said funding for a buyout is secure, eliminating what was long considered the greatest obstacle to any coaching change for the cash-strapped athletic department.

It is uncertain what offensive coordinator James Franklin’s future would be if a change occurred. Franklin’s head-coach-in-waiting contract stipulates he is due $1 million within 90 days if Maryland opts not to offer him the job whenever Friedgen departs.

If Maryland does not want to pay the $1 million, it is required to offer Franklin a five-year deal worth the average of ACC coaches. That is believed to be about $1.8 million annually after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s salary more than doubled when the Tigers secured the Atlantic Division on Saturday to trigger an escalation clause in his incentive-laden deal.

Such quandaries, however, might not be faced for at least another week, if at all.

In the interim, Maryland still has a game to play. Friedgen said senior quarterback Chris Turner, who missed the past two weeks with a sprained ligament in his left knee, “has a chance” to return for the final game of his career. Friedgen does not expect Turner to practice until Tuesday at the earliest.

Backup Jamarr Robinson played well at Florida State, completing 20 of 27 passes for 214 yards and his first career touchdown pass. He also rushed for 58 yards, and he has run for 215 yards since Turner was injured.

Nevertheless, the latest loss fit in well with the long season’s narrative. Maryland played as well as it has during its six-game losing streak but squandered multiple chances to lock up its first road victory against the one-time national titan.

“To me, the effort my kids gave yesterday, I couldn’t have been prouder of them,” Friedgen said. “Not many 2-8 teams would go and play Florida State and really should have won the game. I’m just appreciative and proud of them [for] the way they play so hard. That’s not going to change. I’m proud to be their coach and proud to be associated with them.”

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