Saturday, Nov 12, 2005,Page 19
Different coasts bring different reactions. Compare the responses from Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and USC coach Pete Carroll to off-field problems. Friedgen suspended three players for a game following a fight in a College Park, Maryland, bar on Tuesday morning. He also suspended another player for a game for underage drinking. Meanwhile, Carroll played freshman linebacker Rey Maualuga against Stanford last Saturday after Maualuga was arrested for punching another student at a Halloween party.
"It was probably one of the more difficult things I've done since I've been here," said Friedgen, who conducted his own investigation and interviewed several players and witnesses. "I took some time and some deliberation in making my decision. "Some of them weren't very popular with our players, but I did what I felt like had to be done. The message has to be sent that this type of action will not be tolerated."
Perhaps most surprisingly, Friedgen suspended the players even though two of them indicated they would press charges of their own and were acting in self-defense.
"I tell my players they're special people, whether they like it or not," Friedgen said. "There's a lot of things they get that the normal student doesn't have. ... But they have to be responsible for their actions. "They're not just responsible to themselves. They represent the University of Maryland, they represent our football team and they also represent themselves and their families. They need to act accordingly."
That's a harsher reaction than Carroll, who said he considers every incident "case-by-case" and bristled at criticism he was too lenient on Maualuga. "I'm not worried about it. People have opinions and can think anything they want," Carroll said. "I can't wait and see what everyone else will say. We did what we think we think is the right thing and I don't have any reservations. "There's no question he stepped out of character so we have to help him. We went through it the way that we do it. We considered all the circumstances and how remorseful the guy was." Friedgen's suspensions could hurt the Terrapins (4-4) who need two more victories to be bowl eligible. Whether you agree with Friedgen or Carroll's approach probably depends on whether you are a USC or Maryland fan. Or perhaps in Southern California whether you are an anti-USC fan. Allegiances tend to guide fans' thinking more than any sense of fairness or right-and-wrong.