Ralph Friedgen has filled the last vacancy on his coaching staff resulting from the departure of the tastily named Charlie Taaffe, hiring former Baltimore Ravens coach Phil Zacharias to coach running backs for the Terps this fall. (And no, Friedgen did NOT hire Taaffe solely because he sounded like candy or something tasty. We'd only be suspicious if the staff roster listed name like "John Porterhouse," "Wesley Donitz," or "Darius Pecanlog." Then you'd have a theory.)
We'll sure coach Baconchoklat will be a great addition to the Maryland staff. Hmm....
According to the Washington Post, this all but solidifies Friedgen's expanded role in calling plays this fall, a practice he'd ceded almost entirely to Taaffe with diminishing results over the past two seasons for Maryland.(HT: Ben Maller.) Friedgen calling plays remains one of college football's subtle, gentlemanly pleasures for the connoiseur: a fifteen yard dig here; a counter there; a quick screen followed up by an option capped off with a few pounding runs to set up an inevitable play-action pass for a touchdown to the tight end out of a goal-line set. Friedgen blends patience, sophistication, and almost witty playcalling so well in his offense you'd swear you should be wearing a smoking jacket and swirling a amber disk of Louis XIV cognac around in a snifter while watching it. (Actually, that's how we look most of the time. Just remember we're wearing jean shorts underneath the whole David Niven rig.)
The quintessential moment of Friedgen's Masterpiece Theater playcalling came against Georgia in 2000 in Tech's 27-15 victory over the 'Dawgs. Early in the game, facing UGA's fast and malicious defensive backfield, Friedgen calls an option, which the geologically fast George Godsey takes 33 yards for their first score. (Not many glaciers have had the success Godsey enjoyed at the collegiate level, ever further testimony to Friedgen's talent. Godsey graduated, and is now slowly grinding down a slope in Northern Greenland.) A cheeky, well-timed call with perfect execution, and essential Friedgen. Georgia was put on their heels and never seemed to recover from the sight of George Godsey running wild through a mob of stunned future NFL starters.
Godsey, seen here in his current job.
Never hurts that Maryland's had two losing seasons in a row thanks to crappy offense, either. Friedgen's return to string-pulling will make the ACC, already beating each other's brains in like the old Big 10, an even tougher run this fall for teams looking to make it into the beauty contest season of the BCS without a surplus of scratches and dents.