Maryland followed one of Ralph Friedgen’s toughest months as a head coach with a rewarding 24-21 victory over Clemson at Byrd Stadium on Saturday. When he entered his postgame news conference, a few tables filled with supporters in the team’s dining hall broke into applause.
For at least a week, any grumblings about the ninth-year coach’s performance will be quieted, if not entirely muted.
Friedgen, though, remained unconcerned about such sentiment after the Terrapins (2-3, 1-0 ACC) snapped a two-game skid and avoided their worst start since 1993.
“I don’t feel pressure. If they don’t want me here, I’ll go somewhere else,” Friedgen said. “I think I’m pretty well-respected in the profession. I had a bunch of Clemson coaches come up to me afterward and talked to me and wished me the best. So as long as I’ve got my kids, that’s all I’m [worried about].”
Friedgen has taken Maryland to bowl games in six of the past eight seasons after the Terps managed just one in the 15 years prior to his arrival. His worst record in that span was 5-6 - a mark topped only twice by his three immediate predecessors.
At the same time, Maryland was 34-31 in the last five-plus seasons before Saturday’s victory. That included a turnover-riddled 1-3 start last month, the Terps’ worst September since 1997.
Even since the start of camp, Friedgen acknowledged the inexperience of his current team and professed his enjoyment of his current team. He also has withstood some boos the past two weeks, though the crowd of 46,243 took a far greater liking to the outcome against Clemson.
“You know, I don’t worry about what you say or what you write,” said Friedgen, who has two years and about $4 million left on his contract after this season. “I’ve been at this 41 years. It comes with the territory, know what I’m saying? But I like winning. I’ve won most of my career. I haven’t had many bad seasons. And I’m a competitor. So that bothers me.”
A minute after he finished speaking, he was excused from the podium and promptly was showered with more cheers from one corner of the room.