Saturday, February 7, 2009

NCAA football to get one more Black coach... at some unknown point in time

In the past few weeks, all the talk surrounding coaches at the University of Maryland involved whether or not Gary Williams would lose his job as the men's basketball coach (oh wait, apparently the answer is no).

So to take some of the heat off of that situation, I guess U-Md. officials decided now was the best time to name offensive coordinator James Franklin as Ralph Friedgen's successor as head football coach. This is significant for many reasons, none larger than the fact that an abysmally low number of head coaches in NCAA Division I-A (or FBS, as it's now known) are Black. As it stands, seven out of 120 schools had Black head coaches. Of that group, only Randy Shannon at the University of Miami coaches at a BCS conference school (read: a premier football program).

So, in a sense, this is fantastic news. Not only will another Black coach get a job at a decent school, but it's going to be at Maryland. A few minutes up Rhode Island Avenue from here. Sweet.

However, there are also some things about naming a successor this far in advance that cause me some concern, so I'll outline some of the pros and cons.

  • Aside from the diversity angle which I discussed above, Franklin has plenty of college and NFL coaching experience for a 37 year-old and had coached at Maryland before.
  • He was lauded as a top recruiter by, as evidenced by the team's success in landing several talented local recruits this season upon Franklin's return.
  • Franklin is also said to be very enthusiastic and passionate about coaching and seems to get along well with the current players and administration. Perhaps this offensive mind is the breath of fresh air that is needed in College Park to get the Terps to that next level.
  • For starters, his offensive mind wasn't enough of a breath of fresh air in his first season as Maryland's offensive coordinator. Maybe this was down to the players learning a new system and once all of his recruits are in to fit with that system, the offense will mesh better. Either way, season one under Franklin was not a good showing.
  • My main gripe with this move is that there no timetable of any kind as to when exactly Friedgen will retire. The Fridge gave a three-to-five year window, speaking hypothetically, as a possible time-frame. The Post article said that if Friedgen's contract is extended beyond 2012 (when his current deal expires), Franklin would be free to leave. But with Ralph being 61 and reports of his health being on the decline, I seriously doubt that would happen. Plus, the team's performance as of late hasn't warranted another contract extension for him, so anything short of an appearance in a BCS bowl wouldn't cut it either.

Multiple articles mention that Franklin had received offers to join more NFL coaching staffs (namely, from the Tampa bay Buccaneers) and that Maryland was doing this to get him to stay. If true, then it's going out on quite a limb to hand him the reigns, no matter how far down the road it is. However, as risky as the move is, the school seems justified in wanting to keep him.

Many other Maryland fans (myself included) would have rather seen us go after another former assistant, Mike Locksley, who just became the head coach at the University of New Mexico. Locksley is also an African American and has ties to the Washington D.C. area. While he was the offesnive coordinator at Illinois, he was able to successfully recruit the DMV area, landing Dunbar's Arrellious Benn and Vontae Davis (take my word for it, two future superstars).

The truth may be that Locksley was out of our league. In order to make a play for him, the school would have to dump Friedgen and though the team has been infuriatingly inconsistent, they have stayed afloat and won bowl games in a competitive (if not mediocre) BCS conference.

All in all, kudos to Maryland for thinking progressively and I will sincerely be rooting for this to work when he takes over. For now, let's just focus on not losing to GODDAMN MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE!!! Sorry, almost lost it there (wouldn't be the first time).


  1. Both Pro And Con: His shades and expression look like something out of the matrix- this is a good thing? or maybe a bad thing? i'm not very good at watching sports so i don't know.

  2. Franklin does look very matrix-y in that picture, and like JN can't decided if that's good or bad for his coaching prospects.

  3. if he can train Maryland players to transcend time and space & teach them kickass martial arts moves, then definitely a good thing. i predict lots of 100-0 victories in the years to come