Bottom line puts Chaump, Duffner in hurry-up mode

November 17, 1994|By BILL TANTON

A football coach can be smart, he can be a good PR man, he can be a great guy.

But in the end, none of that matters as much as one thing: Did he win?

In light of that, the football coaches at Maryland and Navy would appear to be in danger of losing their jobs.

Both men -- Mark Duffner at Maryland, George Chaump at Navy -- have strengths.

Duffner takes a back seat to no one when it comes to energy and enthusiasm. For some, he has a little too much energy and enthusiasm.

Chaump, at 59, is a soft-spoken, fatherly type who is rich in experience. He coached at Ohio State under Woody Hayes (and with Lou Holtz). He was a coach for the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs.

But neither Duffner nor Chaump is winning, and both, it appears to me, are beginning to scramble to save their jobs.

Because there is a widespread belief that no coach can win at Navy anyway, the pressure is greater on Duffner.

At his news conference this week, Duffner spoke about his team's "togetherness." He said "the confidence level is up." He told how "progress is in motion."

"We're twice as good as we were last year," he said.

Duffner gets 100 for math. He's reaching, though, when he calls this team twice as good as last year's.

Maryland won two games last year. This season it has won four with one to go Saturday at Syracuse.

Maryland hasn't beaten a single team with a winning record, although West Virginia comes close at 5-5. Tulane is 1-9. Georgia Tech is 1-8. Wake Forest is 2-8.

Winning at Syracuse would mean a lot for Duffner and his Terps, who are 9 1/2 -point underdogs.

In his third year at Maryland, Duffner has a record of 9-23. Nobody said his predecessor, Joe Krivak, was a great head coach, but in five years Krivak was 20-34-1 (the tie was with Penn State) with one appearance in a minor bowl.

Duffner's winning percentage is .281; Krivak's was .364. Neither is enough to bring a smile to the face of a Terrapin Clubber.

Maryland's progress under Duffner has been minimal. The defense, worst in the country last year, has been better at times, just as poor at other times.

Mark's supporters say you can't judge him yet. They say the cupboard was bare when he got to College Park, that he had to "start from scratch." I can't buy that. Recruiting was not Krivak's strength, but he is too good a man to have left Maryland with nothing. It was Krivak, remember, who recruited quarterback Scott Milanovich, the star of Duffner's team today.

Will Maryland buy out the remaining two years of Duffner's contract?

Would the school's first female athletic director, Debbie Yow, have the nerve to fire the football coach three months after her arrival at College Park?

I think Yow is gutsy enough to do that. But when you ask how her athletic department got itself $7 million in debt, the first word out of her mouth is: "Buyouts."

Maryland has spent a lot of money paying fired coaches such as Krivak and basketball's Bob Wade. It is still sending checks to Lefty Driesell at James Madison.

The last thing Yow wants to do is add to the buyout debt. I think she'll bring back Duffner for another year, and for longer if there's genuine improvement in '95.

Many Terps followers lack that sort of patience. They think Duffner's program should be further along.

They have seen how a coach, Fred Goldsmith, took over a hapless Duke team this year and overnight made it a winner. Duke is 8-2 and bowl-bound. Goldsmith should be national Coach of the Year.

Those who are really eager to get rid of Duffner say it won't cost anything to buy him out if his successor should win and put people in Byrd Stadium's empty seats. The team averaged 28,762 at home this year -- and 42,000-seat Byrd is being enlarged.

The catch is -- how can you be sure you're hiring a new coach who's going to win?

Duffner came here with a great resume and a dynamic personality. He hasn't won. And Duffner wasn't even then-AD Andy Geiger's first choice; Bill Lewis, from East Carolina, was. Lewis accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Tech instead -- and was fired at midseason this year.

That's Navy's dilemma, too. Where are you going to find a coach who can win there? What coach can recruit top talent at a school that sends graduates not to the NFL but to a six-year obligation in the Navy?

Navy football is feeble, indeed. The Middies have two wins this year -- over Lafayette, which is 4-6, and good ol' Tulane.

Naturally Naval Academy grads and enthusiasts are unhappy. The unhappiest are those who remember the glory days of Roger Staubach and wins over Notre Dame, the last of which occurred in 1963.

Some of the old guard are embarrassed. The Middies haven't had a winning season since 1982. The current team is 2-7 with Rice and Army left.

Chaump, in five seasons, has a record of 13-40. His win percentage of .245 is worse than Duffner's.

I keep hearing that Virginia assistant coach Tom O'Brien will be Navy's next head coach. O'Brien graduated from Navy in 1971 and has been coaching with George Welsh since 1975 at both Navy and Virginia.

Another thing you hear from those who are sick of the losing is that Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel, who hired Chaump, also should go.

Meanwhile, Chaump is complaining in the Oct. 24 NCAA News that other schools have "$30 million from civilian alumni, but we're not civilian."

No, Navy is not civilian, and because it's not it doesn't have to raise millions to pay for scholarships, the way a Maryland does. Every one of the academy's 4,000 midshipmen and women goes there for free and draws a salary.

George is reaching, too. Who wouldn't with a record like his?

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