UM job interests Sandusky Penn State assistant ready to make a move

November 27, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Five years ago, Jerry Sandusky wasn't ready to leave Penn State for Maryland.

He would be now.

Sandusky, in his 29th year as an assistant coach at Penn State, verified his interest in the vacant football coaching position at Maryland, which fired Mark Duffner on Monday. Before they hired Duffner in December 1991, the Terps requested an interview with Sandusky, but he decided not to take that step.

"I put forward a plan a few years ago for Maryland," Sandusky said. "Andy Geiger [then the athletic director] called to see if I would interview for the job. I debated and debated, and even though I had put together that plan, I didn't follow through.

"Being a head coach is something I'd like to do. I've been at that stage for a long time. I look at Maryland as a great opportunity, and I would be interested."

Sandusky, 52, is the defensive coordinator in a program that nationally is known as Linebacker U., and locally was Maryland's longtime nemesis until their series ended in 1993.

Sandusky is one of several assistant coaches whose names have been mentioned as possible successors to Duffner. Some of the others include Florida State assistant head coach Chuck Amato and Ohio State quarterback coach Walt Harris.

Their current programs' participation in New Year's Day bowls could affect their availability next month. This will be Sandusky's 26th bowl game as one of Joe Paterno's assistants.

Yesterday Maryland called Florida State for permission to interview Amato, who recruits Miami and the Northeast for the No. 2 Seminoles. Harris, meanwhile, is also in the running for the job at Fresno State.

Another candidate who figures to be interviewed is San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen, a former Maryland player and coach. Others mentioned as possibilities include Kansas' Glen Mason, Colorado State's Sonny Lubick and New England Patriots assistant Al Groh.

As of yesterday, Maryland had not requested the permission of the Kansas athletic director to talk to Mason.

A source at Maryland said that the list of candidates is still being pared down.

Whoever wins the job will have to start recruiting from scratch. The Terps reportedly had three oral commitments in midseason, but Craig Pfaff, a fullback from Honesdale, Pa., said last week that said he instead would attend West Virginia, and Maurice Jackson, a wide receiver from Rochester, N.Y., is now leaning to Syracuse.

Albert Surman, a linebacker from Pittsburgh whose brother Anthony is already at Maryland, orally committed to the Terps last year. His high school coach said that his "options are open, but he wouldn't rule out Maryland."

Arundel's Erik Lipton, a quarterback targeted by Duffner's staff, took a wait-and-see approach to the Terps in September.

"Erik told me he would have committed to Maryland after the second game except for his concern with Duffner's situation," said Bernie Walter, the Arundel athletic director. "Now his concern is whether the new coach will continue the recruitment."

Athletic director Debbie Yow was highly critical of Duffner and his staff Monday, when she discussed her decision to dismiss him after five seasons and a 20-35 overall record. Duffner turned down Yow's offer of a forced resignation. He and his staff were ordered to have their offices at the football team house cleared out by 5 p.m. yesterday.

The university, meanwhile, announced the makeup of its seven-person screening committee for candidates. Besides Yow and associate athletic director R.D. Helt, who was the assistant A.D. in charge of football operations in 1994, the committee includes five faculty members.

They are Michelle Dudash, of the department of plant biology; Irwin Goldstein, of the college of behavioral and social sciences; Robert Hampton, the associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies; Paul Mazzocchi, dean of the college of life sciences; and Charles Wellford of the department of criminology and justice.

Wellford is also Maryland's faculty representative to the NCAA.

This will be the second major hire by Yow, and Maryland fans can only hope that it will be as successful as the first.

Yow was the athletic director at Saint Louis in 1992, when the Billikens fired basketball coach Rich Grauer and hired Charlie Spoonhour from Southwest Missouri State. Spoonhour immediately turned Saint Louis around, and has made the Billikens a fixture in postseason play.

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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