Vanderlinden goes slow on hiring his Terps staff New coach must wait on Tepper, others

December 13, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Maryland football coach Ron Vanderlinden had hoped to have several assistant coaches on board by now, but he has made only one hire, and his staff probably won't be completed until after the bowl games are played.

"There's a lot of interest, and the pool of candidates is impressive, but I'm not going to be impulsive about putting together a staff," Vanderlinden said. "I talked to three or four longtime head coaches, and they told me to take my time, that the mistakes you make in hiring last a long time."

Vanderlinden said he'll know by tomorrow if former Illinois coach Lou Tepper will accept his offer of the defensive coordinator's job. Dismissed by the Big Ten school last month, Tepper visited College Park on Dec. 4, the day Vanderlinden was introduced as Maryland's successor to Mark Duffner.

"Lou wanted to take some time off before he made a decision, and I'm going to respect that," said Vanderlinden, formerly the assistant head coach at Northwestern. "We made an agreement to talk Saturday. If he decides not to come, I've got another plan already in the works."

Chris Cosh, who spent the last five seasons with Tepper at Illinois, became the first assistant to join Vanderlinden on Monday. The defensive coordinator with the Fighting Illini, Cosh is expected to work with the linebackers. Cosh recruited the Chicago area for the Terps on Tuesday, and Wednesday was his first day at the Maryland football complex.

Including Cosh and Tepper, Vanderlinden said that five prospective assistants have visited College Park.

The first was Craig Johnson, the Northwestern quarterbacks coach, who joined Vanderlinden and their wives on a tour of the area Nov. 30. Johnson is leaning toward taking the job of offensive coordinator at Maryland, but wouldn't do so until after the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.

"My family and I would be very comfortable at Maryland," Johnson said. "It's hard in my mind to serve two masters, and right now my first concern is the Citrus Bowl."

Vanderlinden is willing to wait until after that game to hire Johnson, and it's conceivable that his staff might not be filled until the American Football Coaches Association convention, Jan. 5-8 in Orlando, Fla.

Vanderlinden could spend as much as $100,000 more for his nine-man staff than did Duffner. Four of Duffner's assistants, who had no previous full-time experience in Division I-A, made less than $65,000. His coordinators made $85,729 and $82,368, and the lone position coach with an extensive major-college background made $74,681.

"Debbie [Yow, athletic director] has let me know that whatever we need to hire good people and be successful, we'll have," Vanderlinden said. "Nothing's standing in my way from that regard, but equally important to me, I want guys who want to be here."

On the recruiting front, Vanderlinden said that he has made his first home visit, had two recruits in for official visits last weekend, and that 12 in-state prospects were expected for last night's men's basketball game against Georgia Tech at Cole Field House.

Two of The Sun's All-Metro first-team choices, Arundel quarterback Erik Lipton and Dunbar running back Ali Culpepper, are among the in-state prospects being asked to take a wait-and-see approach toward Maryland.

"We're going to make a big push and ask them to hold off until January," Vanderlinden said. "I think we'll still end up with a good lTC recruiting year, but I'm very conscious of not going too fast. I could commit to a quarterback, for instance, but is he the quarterback the offensive coordinator wants? I don't want to be impulsive."

Vanderlinden, who recruited California, Detroit and an area of Illinois for Northwestern, isn't restricting himself to the areas in which Maryland has traditionally recruited.

"I've already gone through stacks and stacks of video," Vanderlinden said, "some that was already here and some that I brought with me, with Coach [Gary] Barnett's blessing."

NOTES: Three Maryland seniors will play in postseason all-star games. Cornerbacks A. J. Johnson and Chad Scott have been selected for the Senior Bowl, the premier all-star game, Jan. 18 in Mobile, Ala. Wide receiver Geroy Simon will play in the Blue-Gray Classic on Christmas Day in Montgomery, Ala.

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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