QUARTERBACK Scott Zolak is as glad as anyone on the Maryland football team to be playing in the Independence Bowl tomorrow night. Though this game against Louisiana Tech will end Zolak's Maryland career, he has been a starter for only one year. He welcomes an extra chance to showcase his talent before pro scouts, especially because this is the only bowl game being played that day.
"I want to play in the NFL," says Zolak, who has the size (6 feet 5, 221 pounds) and the strong arm pro scouts like. "I'm hoping to have a good game here. Then I'll play in the Blue-Gray game. They say at that game what you do in practice means more to the scouts than what you do in the game."
Though coach Joe Krivak is not in Zolak's future after tomorrow, Zolak is pleased Maryland has retained the veteran coach.
"Joe works harder than anybody," Zolak says. "He's here until 10 o'clock at night working. It's good for the young guys that Coach Krivak's coming back. They don't have to prove themselves all over again."
Incidentally, I wish Krivak or athletic director Andy Geiger would talk to their players and tell them to stop complaining about things such as the long plane ride to Shreveport and having to dress in the hotel, as some have done publicly this week. As long as Maryland has waited and as hard as the Terps have worked to get to a bowl game, they should keep their petty gripes to themselves. Nobody wants to hear it from a bunch of kids who've been flown to Louisiana to play in a nationally televised bowl game.
* The two new books I'd recommend for Christmas giving are "God, Country, Notre Dame" by Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., and "Ever Green" by Dan Shaughnessy.
Father Hesburgh, who retired in 1987 after 35 years as president of Notre Dame, has written an autobiography that will fascinate anyone who genuinely cares about excellence. The chapter entitled "On the Playing Field" provides a rare insight to Leahy, Parseghian, Faust, Holtz, Phelps, etc.
Shaughnessy, now a Boston Globe columnist, once of The Evening Sun, has written a history of the Boston Celtics. What makes the book -- besides learning some interesting things about Auerbach, Cousy, Russell, Bird, etc. -- is the writing. There's no better sportswriter in the country today than Dan Shaughnessy.
* Importing hockey players from the Soviet Union is no longer new, but bringing in the kind the Washington Caps do -- young ones with a future -- is. Mikhail Tatarinov, 22, has played a dozen games with the Caps. Dimitri Khristich, 21, has signed to play with the Caps and will have quite a weekend of it, beginning tonight, with their Skipjack farm club here.
With Khristich in the lineup, the Jacks will play Rochester tonight and Moncton tomorrow at the Arena. After an expected day off Sunday as the Jacks again face Moncton, Khristich will move up to the Caps on Monday. He'll play against the Rangers that night at Madison Square Garden.
* The Blast, which won't be playing at the Arena again until Dec. 22 against San Diego, wonders why home attendance is averaging a mere 6,348 for nine games. What turns off a lot of sports traditionalists like me, frankly, is the frenzied atmosphere the Blast creates -- the music blaring, even during the action; smoke-bomb entrances; continual announcements over the public address system. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and the players in this league are great athletes. I don't think they need all the extra baloney.
Ed Hale, the second-year owner of the Blast, understands all that. He has had his people conduct surveys. What they have learned is there are as many fans who do like the hoopla as do not. So what does he do now?
* Hale, incidentally, is doing a generous and admirable thing to help budget-plagued Towson State football. Hale and a group of local businessmen granted an audience to Towson coach Phil Albert, who explained his school's need for funds. As a result, Hale has agreed to "donate a buck or two" to Towson State football from every ticket sold for an upcoming Blast game.
Says Hale: "I don't know why more businessmen don't do that. I'm going to start going to Towson games."