COLLEGE PARK -- Despite Maryland's football success this season, athletic director Andy Geiger still maintains he and Joe Krivak won't discuss the coach's job status until after the season.
And yet, Geiger points out, "The numbers speak for themselves." That is the only hint he provides as to which way he may be leaning.
With three games remaining, Maryland has a 5-3 record and needs only one more victory to compile its first winning season since 1985. The Terps were 9-3 that year, captured the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 6-0 record and beat Syracuse in the Cherry Bowl.
On the job barely three weeks, Geiger refuses to answer questions on the subject of Krivak, who is in the final year of a four-year contract.
"We'll talk about Maryland football, Joe's feelings and recommendations, and mine, when the season is over," Geiger said. "I need to get grounded here.
"Now all we're focusing on is the game Saturday at North Carolina. We don't want any distractions. There's an opportunity for the kids to get something done."
Krivak spoke yesterday, as he has before, as if he could easily get on with life without a contract extension.
In August, he said, "I enjoy coaching. But there are too many other things to life than that."
Yesterday, when told he seemed to be raising the possibility he might not return even if asked, Krivak smiled. At his age, 55, he says he likes to take stock every year.
"I assess where the program is going, where I'm going, where I want to be," he said.
He would not elaborate, but did say, "I'll decide after the season and Andy will decide. We're not going to jump the gun. In fairness to Andy, we have to wait until he gets a feel for things."
Krivak entered the season with a three-year record of 12-20-1. He is playing what is generally considered one of the 10 toughest schedules in the country. The teams that have beaten the Terps -- Clemson, Michigan and Georgia Tech -- are in the Top 20 this week.
Yet, at this late stage of the season, people broach the subject of bowl game to Krivak.
"If we continue to win, we'll be in position for one," he said. "But we play on the road at North Carolina, then play a team [Penn State] we haven't beaten since 1961, then go to Virginia, the No. 1 team in the country. To look beyond North Carolina is ludicrous."
Rick Fleece, Maryland's co-captain and nose guard, feels HTC strongly that Krivak should be invited back.
"He's come a long way with the program," Fleece said of Krivak, who was a Maryland assistant from 1974-76 and 1982-86. "He couldn't have gotten the head job at a worse time, when the athletic department was changing and they were getting rid of the bad seeds.
"Coach Krivak is the honest type. A school needs that type in this age when you're always reading about corruption in college athletics."
"He has grown into the role as head coach," said senior linebacker Jack Bradford.
"He is positive and he has motivated us," said junior kicker Dan DeArmas. "There were a few tough losses, but he got us through those, making sure we didn't give up. We want to play for him."
Offensive coordinator Tony Whittlesey first coached with Krivak when both were on George Welsh's staff at Navy from 1978-81. Whittlesey is in his fourth year under Krivak. What kind of job has Krivak done?
"All I can tell you is that we were picked to be in the bottom three in the ACC," Whittlesey said. "We've surprised most people, and in some cases we've surprised ourselves. I mean, we're playing one of the top 10 schedules in the country, and of our eight games, we've only been out of two."
In back-to-back games, Maryland lost to Michigan, 45-17, and Georgia Tech, 31-3. The Terps' other loss was to Clemson, 18-17.
"We knew coming in this was the last year of our contracts," Whittlesey said. "We realize the danger of our profession: We had to win to be considered for extensions.
"There have been no hints, no clues, as to what's going to happen. These things are usually taken care of after the season. Right now we're simply coaching for 1990."