COLLEGE PARK -- Mitch Suplee stood outside Maryland's football building and spoke about Joe Krivak, the man who coached him for five years.
The senior co-captain was grim, yet philosophical after Krivak told the players during a 12-minute meeting yesterday he was resigning.
"It kind of saddened me a bit," said Suplee. "But that's the way it is in this business. Coaches come and go every day. There's no job security.
"There are some talented athletes here. Players win games, so it's up to this group to play. Now they're getting a new coach. I hope people realize no one short of Houdini can come in and work a miracle."
Most of the players declined to comment, apparently unwilling to take a cheap shot at Krivak or to further castigate an already reeling football program.
"At the players' meeting after Krivak spoke to us, we wanted to be on the same page and not say anything injurious," Suplee said. "The man's been through enough."
Suplee felt no need to go through the familiar litany, that Krivak was, in part, a victim of high academic standards, a testy schedule and, this season, injuries to key players. For better than a month, Krivak was criticized by alumni and other supporters.
"I'm not saying he got a raw deal," Suplee said, "but it could have been handled better."
Larry Webster, a senior defensive tackle, wanted to keep his feelings to himself. His mind, he said, is on playing in the Hula Bowl on Jan. 11 and the East-West Shrine Classic on Jan. 18.
"My years here are done," he said. "I'm going back to my room and chill out for a week. This happens everywhere in the country. Coach wished us the best of luck and said he was going to get on with his life."
Suplee appreciated that Krivak told the team he would be in his office here for at least a week and that the door was open to the players.
"That speaks for his character," Suplee said. "He's a good man.
"To tell you the truth, he seemed relieved. No tears, just relief. It was like he was glad to be done with it."
John Kaleo, the No. 2 quarterback, was shooting pool in the football building with wide receiver Gene Thomas after the meeting with Krivak.
"It was tough for him to stand up and talk about it," Kaleo said. "He didn't want to leave; he'd been involved here 14 years. But he seemed relieved. And the team is relieved now that the decision has been made."
Krivak's assistant coaches have one-year contracts that extend through June 30. Athletic director Andy Geiger said they will continue to recruit, work with players on weight training and, when a new coach is selected, have interviews if they're interested in remaining.
Just back from a recruiting trip to Jacksonville, Fla., quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman will head for Tampa and St. Petersburg next week. At the same time, he will keep his eye open for other coaching opportunities.
"You start checking the avenues," he said. "Call people you know. Look for job vacancies. Then, if you want to throw your hat in the ring, you do it."