Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fridgegate: Is Kevin Plank The Man Behind The Curtain?

Here’s how the rumor goes: Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is the man behind the curtain when it comes to the University of Maryland firing Ralph Friedgen and pursuing former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

Plank attended Maryland in the early '90s and joined the football team as a walk-on, ultimately becoming a special teams captain. Plank wasn't the best player on the team, but he was a fan favorite, which is a great way to build allegiance to a program.

Under Armour was born while Plank was still a Terp. He was tired of having to change his t-shirts during practice when they were soaked with sweat. After he graduated in '96, he eventually found a material that would wick the sweat away from the body, and could withstand hours of intense activity.

It worked and Under Armour is a huge success. It has become a major part of the athletic-wear market dominated by Nike and Reebok, and in the process Plank has become very wealthy and diversified. (He has purchased the historic Sagamore Farm in Maryland and his filly Shared Account won a $1 million Breeders Cup race back in November.)

Every Maryland team wears Under Armour at this point, and Plank is a very influential voice from the UM Board of Trustees. It's very similar to the relationship Oregon athletics has with Nike. In all likelihood, you, loyal reader, have an Under Armour garment in your wardrobe.

So the rumors say it’s Plank who is wielding his resources and influence to steer his favorite football program. His involvement in this process usually is a one-line mention in Fridge and/or Leach related stories.

Leach’s former squad, Texas Tech, also wears Under Armour. Prevailing opinion is that Mike Leach would be a Kevin Plank hire. Or, at the very least, that Maryland is a much more attractive opportunity for Leach given its ties to Plank. Either way, Plank is arguably the single biggest grape on the vine when it comes to rumors about Ralph’s departure and Leach’s possible hiring.

According to University officials, buying out Ralph’s contract will strap the Athletic Department financially (Jeez, ANOTHER reason not to do it), so if they plan on hiring a “name” coach (read that “expensive”), some boosters with deep pockets will need to play a major role.

Maybe the Terps plan on seeing an Under Armour(ed) truck parked outside Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium sometime in the near future…?

1 comment:

  1. Mike leach possess incredible integrity and would be a superb choice for any D-1 school interested in winning with INTEGRITY.

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