COLLEGE PARK -- Several high school coaches who have become regulars on the University of Maryland football team's recruiting list say the program has lost prospects because of the uncertainty and publicity surrounding the status of head coach Joe Krivak.
"Maryland needs to realize how critical of a time this is," said Loyola High coach Joe Brune, who has a running back/defensive back, Brad Hoag, being recruited by Maryland. "They keep having these will-he-or-won't-he-return sessions year after year. This stuff has been going on even when Bobby Ross was coach. You start saying, 'What the devil is going on?' "
Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger is in the second week of evaluating the program after a 2-9 season, Maryland's worst since 1971. Krivak, who two weeks ago completed the first year of a four-year contract worth $94,000 per season, has a 20-34-2 record in five seasons at Maryland.
James Easterly, a 6-foot-5, 288-pound offensive tackle from Wilde Lake in Columbia, and one of the most recruited players in the state, said the evaluation had caused him to move Maryland down on his list.
"At one time, Maryland was in my top five. Now, I've had other schools pass them," said Easterly. "The uncertainty about Coach Krivak played about a 50 percent part in helping me make my decision. But I'm still looking at them in general. I know other players who won't go there because of what is going on."
Senior Eric Henry of Cherry Hill (N.J.) East High is one of the best H-backs in the country. He is 6-4, weighs 220 pounds and has scheduled recruiting visits to Boston College, North Carolina and Syracuse.
Henry wants to visit Maryland, but he won't because he is also waiting for Geiger's decision on Krivak. The Terps already have two Cherry Hill East players on the team, and the coach at Cherry Hill East is Charles Wood, whose son Erick is a redshirt freshman linebacker for the Terps.
"Maryland has been on him [Henry], but once their season was over we didn't know what Krivak's status was," said Charles Wood. "We heard they were going to let him go, then recently we heard he was coming back. That school better make a decision real quick. The recruiting wars are already hot and heavy."
Several coaches said Penn State, North Carolina and Syracuse recruiters were in the area yesterday making first visits. They said these universities are selling stability and tradition.
"Look at Penn State: They have Joe Paterno and are as solid as a rock," said Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall, who has four major college prospects, including linebacker Brent Guyton, who seems to be heading to Penn State. "Look at Syracuse and North Carolina, both are upcoming programs again. Look at Maryland and you see a tough situation. I love to see in-state kids stay here and play at Maryland, but I don't see many doing that this year."
Bob Milloy, coach at Springbrook High in Silver Spring, said: "This evaluation is detrimental to Maryland, especially after they signed Krivak to a four-year contract last year. Geiger should just say, 'He's my coach and he's here for three more years.' Recruits and their parents look for stability in a program and the kids want to go to a place where they have the same coaches and can build a rapport. At Maryland, it has never been settled."
DuVall and Dunbar High coach Pete Pompey said the program suffered damage in recent weeks because of negative comments from players about Krivak.
"Statements like some of those coming from the players has to hurt the program," said Pompey. "You can always find 15 to 20 players who don't like the coach, but all of this should have been kept in-house where the athletic director deals with the players and then talks to the coach. If anything is publicized, it should only be the result."
Maryland coaches have complained in the past that academic standards at the university, higher than those of the NCAA, have hurt recruiting. Several high school coaches agree, and said the problem has now been compounded.
"Krivak's recruiting has got to be very, very difficult," said Milloy. "It's a fact, one that a lot of area high school coaches know about, that Virginia and Duke are getting players in that Maryland can't. With this stuff going on, Maryland's recruiting is like a man in a fight with one hand tied behind his back."
Fred Shepherd of Winston Churchill said: "Maryland is slowly falling to the rank of a Wake Forest. The standards are too high, and the program hasn't been up to par since Ross left."
Well, there is one recruiting stop that has adjusted to the situation at Maryland over the years.
"Every year at this time he's getting hired or fired, or someone is getting hired and fired," said Mickey Sullivan, coach at Fork Union Military Academy, in Virginia.