Ralph Friedgen

Maryland fires Randy Edsall; Mike Locksley named interim head coach

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A day after losing on the road at Ohio State, Maryland has cut ties with head coach Randy Edsall. It was reported late last week the school was about to go in a different direction with its football program but there was no definitive timeline mapped out. Apparently that day was today. Maryland also relieved outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson of his coaching duties and let go of Director of Football Operations Fran Foley. Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will serve as Maryland’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Edsall was hired by Maryland in the 2010-2011 coaching carousel. After leading UConn to a 70-63 record and taking the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl in 2010, Maryland thought they made a quality hire in replacing Ralph Friedgen. Maryland went 22-34 in his four and a half seasons in College Park, which included a transition from the ACC to the Big Ten. Maryland went to two bowl games under Edsall, and lost both of them. Maryland went 6-18 in Edsall’s first two seasons and put together back-to-back 7-6 seasons the last two years. Despite that possible sign of progress, Edsall had seemed to lose the team, which was never more evident than last week when Edsall was informed of a players-only meeting that took place at least five hours before he learned about it on a conference call.

“We appreciate Randy’s tireless commitment to the University of Maryland,” Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said in a released statement. “This was a difficult decision, but ultimately this is the best course of action for our football program moving forward.”

Edsall stormed out of his postgame press conference yesterday in Columbus after being asked about shaking hands with his players before games. Accoridng to a report rom Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, Edsall is owed $3.1 million in a buyout.

Locksley coached three seasons at New Mexico, guiding the program to a 2-26 record from 2009 through 2011. Locksley was let go after four games in 2011.

Rutgers names Ben McDaniels OC after Ralph Friedgen steps down

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As suspected, Ralph Friedgen has stepped down from his position as offensive coordinator at Rutgers. Ben McDaniels has been promoted from wide receivers coach to succeed Friedgen as offensive coordinator.

Friedgen coached one year at Rutgers after a brief retirement. After being forced to resign as head coach at Maryland, paving the way for Randy Edsall to take over the program, Friedgen accepted a two-year contract offer from Rutgers to guide the offense into the Big Ten in 2014. But Friedgen lasted just one year on the new job despite having a positive effect on the Rutgers offense.

McDaniels, the younger brother of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, joined the Rutgers coaching staff last year as well. Before arriving at Rutgers, McDaniels had served as an offensive assistant in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His last offensive coordinator job was in 2012 with Columbia in the Ivy League. McDaniels also has some experience coaching in the Big Ten. He had previously coached as a graduate assistant at Minnesota, where he worked with wide receivers and defensive backs.

Report: OC Friedgen leaning toward not returning to Rutgers

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It appears the return of Ralph Friedgen to a college football sideline was a short-lived one. Friedgen is not expected to return to the Rutgers coaching staff as offensive coordinator in 2015, according to a report out of New Jersey Monday.

As reported by Keith Sargeant of NJ.com, Friedgen is leaning toward not returning to the program in 2015 and head coach Kyle Flood is hoping to name a new offensive coordinator at the same time the decision is made public. An update on the coaching situation could come as soon as Tuesday, according to the NJ.com report.

Rutgers managed to bring Friedgen out of a forced retirement after time off from the game. Friedgen had been forced out of his position as head coach at Maryland, where he was replaced by Randy Edsall. Friedgen signed a two-year contract with Rutgers to coach the offense last year. In a year that saw Rutgers move into the Big Ten, Rutgers saw minimal improvement in scoring average but solid improvements in rushing and passing averages and improved ball security overall.

Considering some of the headlines the past week regarding assistant coaching changes and recruiting, whether or not any incoming Rutgers recruits were aware of this possible coaching staff change as signing day approached is unknown.

Wisconsin shutout of Rutgers keeps Badgers ahead in B1G West

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Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) shut down Rutgers () 5-4, 1-4 Big Ten) every way possible in New Jersey this afternoon. With a dominating 37-0 victory, Wisconsin stays in a good spot in the Big Ten’s West Division with the season starting to wind down.

Melvin Gordon was a force for the Badgers with 132 yards and two touchdowns, perhaps something to give some Heisman voters something to think about. It might also give Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah something to shoot for, as the two seem to keep raising the bar during the season for each other. Wisconsin’s running game had another dominant player out of the backfield too, with Corey Clement adding 131 yards and two touchdowns. For Wisconsin, running the football is the best way to cure any issues in the passing game, which struggled to get much going in rainy New Jersey, no matter of Joel Stave or Tanner McEvoy was under center. The two Wisconsin quarterbacks combined to complete just eight of 20 pass attempts for 87 yards in the game. McEvoy was also intercepted once.

Wisconsin’s defense also got the job done against Rutgers. The Badgers held the Scarlet Knights to just 139 yards of total offense, which surely must be frustrating to offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen. Gary Nova started at quarterback but struggled leading the offense. Rutgers was held to just eight first downs and Nova was picked off once.

With the win, Wisconsin remains in first place in the Big Ten West Division, although it is crowed at the top with Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota all still in the running in the division.

Wisconsin will be back on the road next week at Purdue. The schedule ends with three games against Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. All three of those games look to be critical in the division.

Rutgers still needs one more win to become bowl eligible. Rutgers will host Indiana after a week off, but ends the road at Michigan State and Maryland.

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Big Ten Predictions

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As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

BIG TEN EAST

1. Michigan State (Last year: 13-1; beat Stanford in Rose Bowl)
Michigan State will have the best defense in the Big Ten, despite losing some key players from 2013. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will figure out how to get the most out of his defense and players like defensive end Shilque Calhoun and safety Kurtis Drummond will help make that task easier. The defending champs will be unlikely to start so slow on offense this season, as they did in 2013, with quarterback Connor Cook back and seasoned (and most importantly, confident). Michigan State’s offense should be balanced and reliant on the run with Jeremy Langford coming off 1,422 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Getting Ohio State at home is key as far as Big Ten play is concerned, but a week two trip to Oregon could keep the Spartans playing catch-up in the playoff discussion from the start.

2. Ohio State (Last year: 12-2; lost to Clemson in Orange Bowl)
Here’s the thing with Ohio State. With or without quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State may still be the best team in the Big Ten this season, but with Miller lost for the entire season the idea of Ohio State running through the regular season unscathed becomes much less likely. In a season that was expected to be layoff or bust, the Buckeyes may have already gone bust, but this is still a talented team that could be favored in every game of the season, with the likely exception of a road trip to East Lansing in early November. JT Barrett will take over under center, lacking much experience and with a fraction of the potential of a healthy Miller, but the Buckeyes will find some ways to make it work. Afterall it is not as though the rest of the roster is lacking for players ready to leave their mark. Look for Ohio State to get a bit tougher on defense this season, with Michael Bennett anchoring the defensive line and Noah Spence on the edge after serving a suspension.

3. Michigan (Last year: 7-6; lost to Kansas State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
Is this the year Brady Hoke turns the Michigan trends back in his favor? Only a handful of players on the roster now were not recruited by his staff, so his stamp is officially on this Michigan football program. The addition of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier comes with high expectations for improving the offense, which was dismal at times in protecting quarterback Devin Gardner and protecting the football. This was a team on the brink of losing at home to Akron but a play away from taking out Ohio State. You try figuring this Michigan team out. Moving tight end Devin Funchess to wide receiver was needed to improve the receiving position and should work well, and the running backs look to improve as well. Michigan’s defense is in the most in need of improving, cutting down on big plays allowed being the biggest concern. Adding star recruit Jabrill Peppers at defensive back could give a boost in that area.

4. Penn State (Last year: 7-5)
The James Franklin era gets underway with great enthusiasm but lingering concerns over roster depth. Penn State will have the talent at positions to do some good things and win a game they probably shouldn’t along the way (Ohio State and Michigan State at home?), but the depth concerns to lose a game they probably should not (Indiana in Bloomington, again?). The light at the end of the tunnel is there for Penn State, which is good news. Penn State also has one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation with sophomore Christian Hackenberg. Offensive line concerns are legitimate of course, as they have been for years, but if Hackenberg stays healthy the offense can be effective. The defense on the other hand, could use some playmakers and some more brute force up front to bring pressure on opposing QBs and close down running lanes.

5. Maryland (Last year: 7-6; lost to Marshall in Military Bowl as ACC member)
Maryland receives no favors on the schedule in their debut season as a member of the Big Ten, but the Terrapins join the new conference with possibly the best wide receiver unit in the conference. Stefon Diggs has the ability to break open a big play at any moment, and he plays in a division that sees some weaknesses in secondaries all over (except Michigan State). And do not forget about Levern Jacobs and Deon Long. Maryland’s biggest concern is keeping quarterback C.J. Brown upright to be able to get those receivers the football. The defense hit walls against explosive offenses in 2013 but returns a good number of upperclassmen, which is usually nice. A fourth-place finish is not all that unrealistic, but probably a reach for Maryland in 2014.

6. Indiana (Last year: 5-7)
The Hoosiers have an offense that is capable of giving every team in the Big Ten some fits. Credit head coach Kevin Wilson for making that happen since he arrived in Bloomington, but the defense is not a unit that will cause much fear on a weekly basis. The Hoosiers averaged 38.4 points per game last season, but the defense allowed 38.8 points per game. If the defense can just improve a little bit, then the Hoosiers should be seriously thinking about making plans for a postseason bowl game. It could be a rough start with the schedule though with road games at Bowling Green and Missouri. Getting to six wins may be a reach for Indiana unless they can get off to a good start. Running back Tevin Coleman could become one of the top running backs int he Big Ten.

7. Rutgers (Last year: 6-7; lost to Notre Dame in Pinstripe Bowl)
Rutgers is going to have a tall mountain to climb in year one in the Big Ten. Rutgers must go on the road to Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State and hosts Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Getting to six wins to return to the postseason is a reach for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers does add Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator, which should result in some better scheming and preparation, but Gary Nova is still the best option at quarterback and Rutgers has lost some key players over the last couple of years. Experience is thin. The defense could be picked apart by most teams n the schedule, which should be a constant area of focus for Rutgers.

BIG TEN WEST

1. Wisconsin (Last year: 9-4; lost to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl)
The Badgers fell shy of playing for yet another Big Ten championship last season, but now in a new division it looks as though Wisconsin has the easiest road to travel back to Indianapolis this fall. The Badgers will be led by one of the top running backs in the country, Melvin Gordon, and have a schedule worthy of legitimate playoff consideration if things go their way. A season-opening game against LSU in Cowboys Stadium is far from impossible and a home game against Bowling green should deserve more respect than it may get. Avoiding Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State in crossover games is nice too. On offense there is a need to see some players step up to support Gordon and quarterback Joel Stave needs to be a bit more consistent. The defense will be good, not great, but needs to find a way to create more turnovers in 2014.

2. Iowa (Last year: 8-5; lost to LSU in Outback Bowl)
The Hawkeyes may not dazzle with their style of play, but it should be effective enough to make a realistic run to an appearance in the Big Ten championship game. The Hawkeyes are anchored on the offensive line by left tackle Brandon Scherff and the rest of the line should do well in creating space for running back Mark Weisman. Iowa’s offense is designed to win some ugly games, and the defense should be capable of allowing for that to happen. Defensive tackle Carl Davis will lead the way up front along with defensive end Drew Ott. Iowa allowed just 18.9 points per game last season. The most challenging game on the schedule before late November may be a road game at Pittsburgh, but Iowa ends the regular season with Wisconsin and Nebraska at home on back-to-back weeks, with the division potentially on the line and Iowa in control of its own path.

3. Nebraska (Last year: 9-4; beat Georgia in Gator Bowl)
Nebraska will also have one of the top running backs in the Big Ten and the nation with Ameer Abdullah, but the Cornhuskers have some work to do in improving the supporting cast to become a top contender in the Big Ten. The Huskers will have some help on the defense with Randy Gregory entering the season as one of the top defensive ends in the conference, but Nebraska’s defense is a long time removed from the great defenses of the past. Bo Pelini‘s team has been consistent with the win total, but inconsistent on a game-to-game basis at times. With road games at Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa, it looks like Nebraska could be staring at another nine-win season.

4. Minnesota (Last year: 8-5; lost to Syracuse in Texas Bowl)
Head coach Jerry Kill has done a tremendous job with building something at Minnesota, but the bar may have been reached by the Gophers for now. Minnesota needs to see big leaps from multiple positions in order to make a run at a top three finish in the west division. Minnesota needs consistency out of the quarterback position from Mitch Leidner. Running back David Cobb should help take some pressure off Leidner, but there will be a time when Minnesota needs a big third-down completion. The schedule is a challenge as well, with a road game at TCU and back-to-back road games in conference play at Nebraska and Wisconsin to end the regular season.

5. Northwestern (Last year: 5-7)
The Wildcats were a trendy pick by many in the west division throughout the offseason, but the late departure of Venric Mark and the loss of wide receiver Christian Jones will take a big toll on Northwestern’s offense, which was to be the strength of the team for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. That is a lot of offensive production lost by the Wildcats, and that does not even account for a new full-time starting quarterback in Trevor Siemian. Fortunately, Siemian is not without some experience in this offense without Mark, with Treyvon Green playing a solid role last fall. On defense, linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo will rack up the tackle numbers but the rest of the defense can be exposed and the special teams break in a new kicker and punter.

6. Illinois (Last year: 4-8)
What will save head coach Tim Beckman? Three years in, Illinois needs to make a push for a postseason game if the heat is going to be turned down on Beckman’s job security. To get there, the Illini defense needs to improve in a hurry. The Illinois defense was shredded routinely last season and the offense was unable to keep up. Adding quarterback Wes Lunt after sitting out the 2013 season should help stabilize the offense, and should help the Illini keep up with the opposition, but the defense needs to find away to come up with some turnovers after not being able to last fall. re there six wins on the schedule? Yes, but it will be a battle to get there until the defense starts showing signs of improvement.

7. Purdue (Last year: 1-11)
There is nowhere to go but up for Purdue, hopefully. A trip to the postseason is a dream at this point, but the Boilermakers should make some improvements this fall. Head coach Darrell Hazell is in year two and the team should be starting to find its identity. On offense, Purdue managed just 14.9 points per game last season and the defense allowed 38.0 points per game. What should the realistic goal for Purdue be in 2014? Getting an extra touchdown per game and cutting one on defense would be a nice way to go. It still will not result in a winning season, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION
Michigan State over Wisconsin

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)