If it were not for Towson State lacrosse coach Carl Runk, Dick Edell's career might have ended up in the gutter.
"He gave me my first job and let me do things my way," said Edell, 47, who coached at Towson for two years. "Without him, I'd probably be managing a bowling alley in Dundalk."
Instead, Edell will meet his former boss and alma mater in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Divi
sion I semifinals at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday at 3 p.m. Edell coaches No. 7 Maryland (10-4), and Runk still is coach at No. 11 Towson (11-3).
Runk, 55, remembers their first meeting.
"There was this kid, he was about 6-4 and just finished his playing career here," said Runk, who was entering his first season at Towson when they met in 1968. "He had long legs, long arms and a big head.
"We made him our freshman coach, and Dick did a great job for us. He has always been a real classy guy, and is a credit to the sport and to this university."
The two have more in common than their success. Both are consid
ered motivators more than strategists. Both stress fundamentals, hard work and physical playing styles.
And one can't help poking fun at the other.
"I love him, but I would like nothing better than to see his big, old butt flying home on a plane Saturday night," said Edell, who was named Division I Coach of the Year in 1978.
Edell stopped at Calvert Hall (1971-72), University of Baltimore (1973-76) and Army (1977-83) before coming to Maryland in 1984, while Runk has been at Towson for 24 years. The Runk-Edell relationship has survived a number of battles -- the teacher, Runk, has lost to the student, Edell, in six of seven meetings.
Wherever Edell has gone, he has been a winner. He won two Maryland Scholastic Association titles at Calvert Hall, took the University of Baltimore to the NCAA Division II-III playoffs three of four years and made the Division I playoffs four of seven seasons with Army and four of the past eight with Maryland.
And, each time, he has given credit to Runk.
"I'm not saying this to demean [the coaching ability of] Carl, but I learned more about real life from Carl than anything else," said Edell. "I've seen the work he has done outside of lacrosse with deaf, blind and handicapped kids. He taught me you can be successful in lacrosse, but you can be just as successful in the real world."
Edell and Runk motivate differently. Edell is more of a player's coach and gets involved in team pranks. At Army, the players got their ears pierced. Edell told the players that if they beat Johns Hopkins, he would get his pierced, too. Army upset Johns Hopkins, and Edell went home, got his ears pierced and walked into the dining room the next day wearing his wife's earrings.
"He fits right into the team concept," said Maryland attackman Mark Douglas. "He knows when to yell -- and he can be very loud -- and when to just pat you on the back."
Towson players say the same thing about Runk, but he keeps more distance than Edell. The Tigers often talk about Runk's intimidating stare and "the sausage."
"His index finger is as big as a sausage," said Towson attackman John Blatchley of Runk, a ruggedly built, 6 feet 4, 235 pounds. "I don't think he knows his own strength. When he's putting his finger in your chest, he's actually making a dent.
"Most of the times, he's very soft-spoken, but when we were losing to UMBC at halftime this year, he came in, turned over a couple of tables, threw a couple of coolers and we got the point. After 24 years in the business, you don't question the man."
Runk never has been one to rely much on finesse. The Tigers are known for their one-on-one offensive and physical defensive styles (76 penalty minutes this season). Runk's style apparently works. He has a 213-124 career record at Towson and is one of only a few active coaches with more than 200 victories. Runk won a Division II-III title in 1974 and also was named Coach of the Year.
Edell's teams play a similar defensive style, but he prefers a more versatile offense. His method works, too. Edell has a career record of 180-77.
This season, neither coach appeared to have an overly talented team. Towson had eight starters back, but three new players on defense. Edell, meanwhile, started the season with 12 freshmen, seven sophomores, 13 juniors and six seniors.
Preseason evaluation: Both teams had strong attacks, above-average midfields, average defenses and suspect goaltending.
Not exactly Final Four material.
"Dick has done a great coaching job at Maryland getting everything he could out of his team, and Carl has brought his team together at the end of the season," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "Both teams hustle and have worked for everything they get. It's going to be a tough, hard-fought game when they play."
Edell said he expects it to be an emotional game. He was a two-time All-American midfielder at Towson, from which he graduated in 1967. In 1980, he was selected to the Towson State Hall of Fame.
Last week, when Towson upset host and No. 6 Virginia, 14-13, to advance to the semifinals, Runk didn't get home until late at night.
Edell still made a congratulatory phone call.
Runk vs. Edell
Towson State vs. Maryland since Dick Edell became Terps coach in 1984:
1984 Maryland 18, Towson 12
1985 Maryland 9, Towson 3
1986 Maryland 18, Towson 12
1987 Maryland 16, Towson 10
1988 Maryland 12, Towson 7
1990 Towson 8, Maryland 7
1991 Maryland 17, Towson 16