IT MAY NOT have been the wisest thing for Maryland to have scheduled 21 1/2 -point favorite Michigan, which the Terps visit Saturday, but it's hard to beat as a money maker. Maryland will take home $320,000 from Ann Arbor. The series, which ends with this game, was arranged when Carl James was Maryland's athletic director -- and he has been gone for 11 years. The Wolverines won't be back on the schedule for a while. Maryland already has some opponents signed for 2007.
* New York Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, son of longtime Navy coaching aide Steve Belichick, is still taking bows for the job his unit did last Sunday in holding Miami and dangerous Dan Marino without a touchdown, winning 20-3. Of course, Belichick's job was made easier because the Giants had the ball for 40 of the game's 60 minutes, leaving Marino to watch helplessly from the sideline.
* Bruce Hoffman, the Maryland Stadium Authority's nuts-and-bolts guy in the construction of the new baseball-only park in Camden Yards, is Mr. Efficiency. He reports that despite the excessive rains of August, the project is "on budget and on time." That means it'll be ready as planned for the Orioles' Opening Day in '92 -- a mere 18 months away. Hoffman says the Authority is starting to focus on the proposed football stadium adjacent to the ballpark.
* By the way, isn't it about time they gave the baseball park a name? Since it's being built solely for the Orioles, and since the Orioles are going to call the shots anyway (don't tell me Herb Belgrad is going to overrule Eli Jacobs), look for it to be named Oriole Park. Gordon Beard, retired AP sportswriter, says he can still recall the excitement he felt as a kid when he took the No. 8 streetcar to the old minor-league park here and heard the conductor call out, "Twenty-ninth Street, Oriole Park."
* Maryland -- and everyone else on Michigan's schedule -- will have its hands full with running back Jon Vaughn. With 288 yards in the win over UCLA last week, Vaughn became the first Wolverine in history to gain 200-plus yards in back-to-back games. Not even the immortal Tom Harmon did that.
* With our state enjoying its most glorious weather of the year, there can't be many sports events as pleasing to the senses as the horse races coming up Saturday at Fair Hill near Elkton. This is the only steeplechase card in the country with pari-mutuel betting. Visit the tea barn while you're there.
* If you drive down University Parkway on your way to work in the morning and wonder about the commotion at Homewood Field, it's the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team holding fall practice under new coach Tony Seaman. You think the Blue Jays are serious about getting back in title contention, holding practices at 7:45 a.m. in September?
* For the life of me I can't understand why Blast coach Kenny Cooper is always on Timmy Wittman's case. Wittman is a 10-year pro, team captain, local favorite. Nobody plays harder. Cooper should wish he had 10 more like Wittman.
* It still may be September but the Gilman-Poly football game tomorrow (3 p.m.) at Lumsden Field may be the game of the year. I'm picking Gilman, which is a little more experienced than coach Augie Waibel's Engineers.