Pressure builds for Krivak to leave Losses erode support of alumni for coach

November 13, 1991|By Mike Preston

There seems to be a growing unrest among University of Maryland alumni and supporters of the school's football team.

Questions have resurfaced, the same ones of the past three years. Can he motivate and relate to players? Are his assistants capable? Is he nothing more than just a longtime assistant? Why can't his offense move the ball?

Now, the most important question: Will Joe Krivak, 56, return as Maryland's coach next season? The Terps are 2-7 and Krivak has compiled a 20-32-2 record in five years.

"It's a sad situation," said John Wright, a 1946 graduate of Maryland who has season tickets and is a member of the Terrapin Club. "Joe Krivak is a nice guy, got a nice wife, but the man is not a competent coach. They should get rid of him. Fans are screaming in the stands. Folks are unhappy."

How unhappy?

"I don't think the alumni will support him another year," said Emory Harman, who played at Maryland in 1944 and is a member of several campus organizations. "The alumni can take their money out of the Terrapin Club and put pressure on the department. I don't know if they will do that, but there has been talk."

Always talk.

"There has been a lot of [talk] about morale, innuendoes of where I'm going to be," Krivak said yesterday, at his weekly news conference, as the Terps began preparing for Saturday's game Clemson. "So whether I've got a four-year contract, or a five-year contract, or a one-year contract . . . there's always that's stuff out there about where's this guy going to be?

"It's like you've always got to continue to prove yourself. All we're trying to do is coach this team and do what we've got to do. Those are the kind of distractions that make it a little difficult sometimes."

Actually, Krivak and the program seemed to be headed for higher ground, after a 6-5-1 record last season and a 34-34 tie with Louisiana State in the Poulan/Weed-Eater Independence Bowl -- the team's first winning campaign and postseason appearance since 1985.

Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger even signed Krivak to a new four-year guaranteed contract worth $94,000 a season with a review after the third season.

But injuries and academic dismissals have cost seven players who started in the season-opening 17-6 win against Virginia. Since then, Maryland has lost seven of eight games, including four in which the Terps were blown out. The worst setbacks have been a 24-0 loss to North Carolina two weeks ago and a 47-7 loss to Penn State Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Geiger, who said yesterday there is no buyout clause in Krivak's contract, reiterated he won't comment on Krivak's status until they have had several meetings immediately after the season.

"I don't think they will be making a change at this time [for next year], but one will be made in the future," said Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Maryland Senate president and one of the leading supporters of state funds appropriated for the new athletic facilities at Maryland. "No one expected coach Krivak to be perfect, but we need a better performance than what we've seen against North Carolina and Penn State.

"Krivak has performed admirably as an assistant coach, with four quarterbacks currently in the NFL. But the university needs to find some who can spend time coaching, motivating and recruiting. Too many of us remembers the days when winning ACC games were common under [former coach Bobby] Ross."

Wright recommends that the Terps buy out Krivak.

"Everybody was excited about last year when they went to a bowl and tied Louisiana Tech, which was a joke," said Wright. "Who is kidding who? Geiger got snowed and said he wanted to keep stability and continuity. I say they bring in a new coach, which will bring in about an additional 1,500 people a game. They sell those tickets for about $20 each, and that pays off Krivak."

Harman said: "I consider Joe Krivak a friend, and it's tough for me to say this, but it looks like he will have a 2-9 record. He forces himself out."

Krivak has said tighter academic guidelines after the death of Maryland basketball player Len Bias in 1986 have cost him recruits. He has also pointed to the injuries this season as well as Maryland's schedule, which was recently rated by the NCAA as one of the top five during the past decade.

"The program is in a transition state, and it's trying to come out of the difficult times in the 1980s," said Charles J. Ryan, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who also lobbied for funds for new facilities. "I think the program is on target. Once Bias died, they couldn't get the kids and some transferred out. I very much support coach Krivak, and I like the concern and confidence he and his staff has for the kids."

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