Thoughts on Ralph Friedgen, Melo Trimble starting next year and the odds Damian Prince picks Maryland
Jan 31, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.
What's your take on having not only James Franklin -- but now perhaps Ralph Friedgen -- in the Big Ten next season with Maryland?
Jeff Barker: Can the conference accommodate all these large personalities and their complex, intertwined histories? It might be a bit awkward, right? Like a cordial but strained family reunion.
Since sportswriters adore personality-driven stories, the media will probably feast next season on chronicling how Franklin and Friedgen comport themselves when they face their former team.
Friedgen – said to be close to becoming Rutgers' offensive coordinator – was Maryland's head coach for 10 seasons and played for the school. Like most coaches, he's uber-competitive and took his 2010 dismissal hard. He'd certainly like to return to beat the Terps. Rutgers has not confirmed his hiring, so we can't say it's been finalized.
The Scarlet Knights play at Byrd Stadium on Nov. 29.
Franklin, who was Friedgen's offensive coordinator and Maryland's "coach-in-waiting," is the new head coach at Penn State, which hosts the Terps on Nov. 1. He left Maryland for Vanderbilt when Maryland got a new athletic director – Kevin Anderson – who was not enamored of "coach-in-waiting" arrangements.
I expect Friedgen, Franklin and Anderson to be politic and polished next season when the subject of their Maryland departures is raised.
But I'm certain Maryland would have simply wanted to turn the page. After the turbulence of the coaching and conference changes, Maryland wants its fans looking forward, not back.
With Melo Trimble being named to a McDonald's All-American team, will that put pressure on Mark Turgeon to start him as a freshman?
Don Markus: There was some discussion of that possibility even before the 6-foot-3 point guard from Upper Marlboro became the first future Terp selected to the McDonald's All-American Game since Mike Jones in 2003.
Now there will be even more.
Many believe that Trimble is better right now than current freshman Roddy Peters. Though not nearly as athletic as either Peters or Seth Allen, those who have followed Trimble closely say he's a much better shooter than Peters and has more natural point guard instincts than Allen.
Still, I think he would have to show Turgeon in summer workouts that he is significantly better than either to get a shot at strarting – at least right away. Turgeon has said that Allen was playing at a very high level before his injury. Despite not playing him much recently, Turgeon still is high on Peters.
An NBA scout who I talk with regularly said that Peters is the only true point guard currently in the program. There are still questions about whether Trimble is a point or a combo guard, though Trimble told me the night he was named to the McDonald's team that he considered a point guard who can score.
Being named a McDonald's All-American will certainly raise the expectations on Trimble, as they did with Jones. Considered the second best shooting guard in the country behind some kid named LeBron, Jones never was much more than a 3-point shooter for most of his career in College Park.
I think the way Maryland finishes the current season will determine how open the competition is at point guard.
If Allen continues to get stronger and get to the form he showed in the preseason, he will likely go into the summer as the incumbent. Peters, who showed some flashes in Wednesday's win over Miami after playing limited minutes the previous three games, has to keep contributing to stay in a backcourt rotation that is going to deeper with the addition of Trimble and Dion Wiley.
Either way, Trimble is likely going to be playing more minutes than any of the incoming freshman next season with the possible exception of Trayvon Reed, the 7-2 center who is currently playing in South Jersey. I can't see Turgeon starting two freshman next year -- one might even be a stretch with the move to the Big Ten.
So, is it Damian Prince or bust for Maryland as it closes out its recruiting class?
Jonas Shaffer: This is your annual reminder that many 17- and 18-year-old football recruits are fickle and insecure man-children, so, no, there are other things to watch besides Prince's announcement. Until the fax comes in, nothing is guaranteed. That's what makes the day so fun and silly and inimitable.
With that said, I'd wager that Maryland is more likely to add a recruit than lose one Wednesday.
The casual college football fan sees Maryland versus Florida for a recruit, as is the case with Prince, and assumes it's as one-sided as Maryland versus Florida State in football. (Or, let's be honest, basketball.)
But according to 247Sports.com's "Crystal Ball" predictions, 70 percent of the field sees Prince as College Park-bound. That jibes with the tea leaves of some other national experts.
In an interview Monday with ESPN that, amazingly, already feels a little dated, Prince explained his Terps interest this way: "I like what Maryland has to offer academically. Them being the Under Armour school, there's a lot of possible after-football business opportunities that could definitely present itself. And even though they weren't in the top of their conference last year, and they may not be next year, but that's neither here nor there. Thy have a great coaching staff. They have a great nucleus of players as well. They aren't going to do anything but just get better and just keep on getting better. Them making that jump, of course, to the Big Ten Conference, they're going to play up against some top, top players, and that opportunity to play in that conference, where … the most offensive linemen are drafted from [is valuable]. So them playing in that conference, it's really just nothing but a great promotion for me."
He was then asked about his visit to Florida this weekend.
"I'm going to be looking forward to really seeing it for myself, because I've just heard great things about it," Prince said. "But really, firsthand, there's no type of source like firsthand experience. So, really, I just want to get down there, see it. If I love it, I love it. If I don't, I don't, but [I] just get the opportunity just to see what the Gators have to offer, really."