Maryland, which plays Houston in the Cotton Bowl New Year's Day, more or less celebrated New Year's Eve Monday night and into the early hours Tuesday. Many missed the 1 a.m. curfew imposed by coach Jerry Claiborne.

Maryland assistant coaches knew of the infractions, but they did not tell Claiboren. Instead, they made their points to the players at meetings Tuesday. The Hilton Inn, team head-quarters in North Dallas, is across the street from the SMU campus and within walking distance of college-type temptations.

"Let 'em have a blowout, see the town and thet's it," said quarterback coach Jerry Eisaman. "They did the same thing in Jacksonville (at the Gator Bowl) last year. We've been checking them good since. We'd probably send anyone back to College Park if we caught him now, because it would be obvious that winning the Cotton Bowl doesn't mean that much to him."

Claiborne eventually found out about "the blowout" when a radio interviewer asked him, "Coach, when did you drop the curfew?"

The Maryland players had been told of the Cotton Bowl's reputation for taking care of the participants better than any of the other major bowls. They found it hard to disagree.

The Terrapins were given belt buckles and bought Texas-style stetsons at whole sale. They were taken to a dude ranch one day, a swank restaurant the next night and a dinner theater the following night, all courtesy of the Cotton Bowl.

One day, defensive back Ken Roy needed a car and his Cotton Bowl host lent Roy his own.

"A lot of guys are talking about transferring to SMU or somewhere down here," defensive and Chip Garber deadpanned. "The people here are so nice; you don't get that in Washington."

Maryland will gross about $468 5,000 from the game, after splitting the $975,000 purse with other Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The Terps will clear about $325,000 after expenses a preliminary estimate showed.

The biggest expense is transportation. Maryland chartered four planes at approximately $13,200 each, according to athletic director Jim Kenoe, who drove here with his family.

One plane brought the team, two more carried the band and the fourth brought the official party, coacnes' wives, graduate assistances and some players who missed the season with injuries, Gov. Marvin Mandel, and wives, children and friends who filled the vacant seats for $132 each, around trip.

As in the past, the athletic department picked up airfare for the official party, six members of the University's board of regents and their wives. They also were allowed $12 per diem for food.

Kehoe said the athletic department also paid fares for eight members of the athletic council, Kenhoe's administrative support staff and for football coaches' wives. Each of these is also allowed $12 a day for meals.

Kehoe said that all other spouses have paid their own airfares.

Also, every player eligible to make the trip here - other than unused freshmen and redshirts - was brought along. The included 73 active players and all players injured prior to this season and still on scholarship. Claiborne also included Chuck Moss, toot-ball career was ended in a construction accident last summer.

Party Department: The Terrapin Club, Maryland's booster club, rented the entire ball room of a local hotel and sold 750 tickets at $15 each for its New Year's Eve party. The price did not include drinks.

Psych Department: Maryland defensive tackle Joe Campbell siad he heard that Wilson Whitley, houston's all-America defensive tackle, could bench-press 500 pounds. Champbell was skeptical.

Seeing is believing," Campbell said "I bench-press 370 punds, and that's the truth."

Whitley said no, he could only press 425 pounds. Asked where the 500-pound story may have originated WHitley's teammate, Val Belcher, said, "From the Maryland coach."

Campbell later confirmed it did.

Maryland fullback Tim Wilson is the team's most versatile and underated player! He is rated anywhere from third to sixth among the country's senior fullbacks in the rankings of the pro scouts. The 220-pound senior is a fine runner and pass receiver, blocks extremely well and is a leader.

He showed even more versatility when the Terps visited the dude ranch. Wilson won the calf-roping contest.

The Cotton Bowl adds apprximately $10 million to nDallas commerce, said Jim Brook, assistant to the bowl's general manager, Wilbur Evans.

Evans will retire after this game and Brock, the former sports information director at SMU, will replace him as general manager.

It was reunion time for Evans and Maryland President Wilson (Bull). Elkins, a former all-America and Rhodes scholar at the University of Texas in Asutin. They were classmates. Evans worked as a waiter on the Longhorn training table when Elkins was a player.

Houston sold almost 21,000 tickets to its fans and Maryland sold more than 9,000, which was as many as Georgia sold last year and more than Penn State did in either of its two appearances hero, according to Evans.

Claiborne and Houston coach Bill Yeoman are old friends, with similar philosophies. They often get together at coaching conventions. One place they are not paired is the golf course. Yeoman carries a five handicap.

He's always in a lower (better) flight," said Claiborne. "He's always paired with (Frank) Broyles or (Darrel) Royal. I'm in the lower echelons, with the worst they've got."