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Emerald Bowl Preview: Riley vs. "The Fridge"

There's been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about the game that will transpire Friday night in San Francisco, and although some are actually talking about the game, some are talking about the coaches.

Mike Riley and Ralph Friedgen had never met until the Emerald Bowl press conference a couple weeks ago, but according to Coach Friedgen, it felt like they had known each other forever.

In fact, the two coaches are similar in many ways, except that one coaches a Pac-10 team on the west coast, and one coaches a ACC team on the east coast.

And believe it or not, although the pictures are deceiving, both were high school quarterbacks back in their day.

However, after high school, Coach Friedgen became more of the lineman prototype.

In fact, both coaches turned around their respective programs. Coach Friegen, who is known simply as the "Fridge" around Maryland's campus, came to Maryland in the 2001 season. In that 2001 season, he led the Terps to a 10-1 season and a trip to the Orange Bowl. They ended up losing to Florida by the score of 56-23, but the Fridge had changed Maryland football for years to come.

And as we know, Coach Riley turned around a team that was painful to watch, starting with his first season in 1997.

That 2001 season wasn't Coach Friedgen's first year in a red and black polo. Prior to '01, he had spent 31 years in the assistant coaching ranks. Those 31 years included a five year stint in the 80's as offensive coordinator at Maryland, and before the Terrapins hired him back as head coach in 2001, he feared he may be an assistant coach for life.

The Oregonian's Paul Buker has more on the story:

He is considered to have one of the game's great offensive minds and has been anointed "best offensive coach in the country" by ESPN, but until he got the job at Maryland, his alma mater, he worried about being a lifetime assistant coach.

Friedgen was in his 50s, was noticeably overweight and didn't fit the polished image of a Nick Saban or an Urban Meyer. He had been passed over once at Maryland, been given a token interview and then a polite no thanks, and it crushed him.

Friedgen's name was always brought up when schools were looking for a head coach because his resume stood out like a neon sign. He was Bobby Ross' top assistant and offensive coordinator when Georgia Tech shared the national championship in 1990.

He was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator (under Ross) for the San Diego Chargers in 1994, when they played in Super Bowl XXIX and lost to the San Francisco 49ers.

Meanwhile, Riley took notice of what Friedgen did at Georgia Tech, and how he ran his offense. And Riley heard his share of Friedgen stories when he got his own shot with the Chargers -- in this case as head coach -- in 1999.

Although the similarities are obvious, there are still some differences between the two coaches. Coach Friedgen takes pride in being an "old school" coach. Maryland arrived Saturday and practiced. Oregon State arrived Sunday, and attended an NFL game. Maryland didn't go to the Bucs/49ers game, because they were too busy practicing and holding a team meeting at their hotel. The Beavers practiced for the first time on Monday.

A brief profile of the two coaches: