BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, who returned the program to relevance in the early 2000s, going to the Orange Bowl in his first season at the helm, is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame’s 2023 class, the school said.

Under “The Fridge,” the Terrapins went 75-50 from 2001 to 2010, winning five of the seven bowl games they appeared in, including victories over the Tennessee Volunteers in the 2002 Peach Bowl and West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2003 Gator Bowl.

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Following his 10-2 debut in 2001 and the school’s first ACC title in 16 years, after which he received national coach of the year honors, Friedgen guided the Terps to 12 wins over top-25 teams and 18 weeks in the AP Top-25.

He ranks ranks fifth all-time in ACC history in bowl victories, 15th all-time in wins (75), tied for 14th in conference victories (43) and 12th in games coached (125).

A former offensive guard for Maryland from 1966-69, Friedgen started his coaching career as a graduate assistant as his alma mater before heading off to stints at The Citadel (1973-79), William & Mary (1980) and Murray State (1981). He returned to join the staff of head coach Bobby Ross in 1982 as offensive coordinator. During his five-year tenure, he worked with future pro quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich and Stan Gelbaugh.

He followed Ross to Georgia Tech and, eventually, the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

Following a second stint with the Yellowjackets, Friedgen was tapped to replace Ron Vanderlinden in College Park following a 5-6 campaign in 2000.

With steady quarterback play from Shaun Hill and 1,601 all-purpose yards from  running back Bruce Perry, Maryland won its first seven games in a row, including a 20-17 victory over Friedgen’s former team, No. 15 Georgia Tech.

The only blemish during the regular season came in a 52-31 loss to No. 19 Florida State in Tallahassee, and Maryland suffered a similar defeat to the Rex Grossman-led Florida Gators in the Orange Bowl, 56-23.

Friedgen found continued success on the recruiting trail, brining the likes of E.J. Henderson, D’Qwell Jackson, Shawne Merriman, Vernon Davis and Torrey Smith to campus.

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Under Friedgen, 80 players received All-ACC honors, 37 were named All-Americans, 27 were NFL draft picks and seven were named ACC Players of the Year.

Although Maryland recovered from a 2-9 mark in 2009 to go 9-4 the following season and make yet another bowl game, the university bought out Friedgen’s contract at the end of 2010 and eventually brought on Connecticut’s Randy Edsall.

Edsall never found the same level of success, going 22-34 in five seasons with Maryland.

Feeling betrayed by his alma mater, Friedgen once claimed he had burned his diploma and shifted his allegiances to Georgia Tech.

After several years away from football, he spent two seasons with Rutgers in 2014 and 2015, the first two years the university spent in the Big 10 along with another new conference member, the University of Maryland. In that first season, with Friedgen as offensive coordinator, the Scarlet Knights came to College Park on the final game of the regular season and bested the Terrapins, 41-38.

Friedgen stepped down from his coordinator duties and served as a special assistant the following season, before ultimately retiring.

Maryland has since made amends with the coach, honoring Friedgen in 2019 and his 2001 team on the 20th anniversary of its magical run.

The school’s current coach, Michael Locksley, started his career at Maryland as an assistant from Maryland from 1997-2002.

The College Football Hall of Fame’s ballot has been mailed to the to the more than 12,000 members of the National Football Foundation and all current inductees.

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An announcement of the 2023 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be made in early 2023, and the inductees will officially be enshrined at the he 65th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 5, 2023.

Brandon Weigel