"For the life of me, I can't see anything wrong with that play," said Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne.
"That play" was the questionable interception by Maryland defensive back Lloyd Burruss against North Carolina State Saturday that was ruled pass interference, setting up a first-and-goal situation for the Wolfpack at the Terrapin two and the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left in the game.
Navy coach George Welsh was also feeling morning-after frustration over officiating yesterday, although none of the disputed calls lost the game for Navy, as did the call against Maryland.
Elsewhere around the nation, Texas A & M coach Emory Bellard called his 41-3 loss to third-ranked Michigan humiliating. "The only way int wouldn't hurt is if you're not a human being." The Aggies, ranked fifth, are no longer considered a national title contender.
Three other ranked teams lost Saturday, Kentucky upsetting No. 4 Penn State, 24-20: Louisiana State giving coach Charlie McClendon a title job security with a 36-14 win over Florida, and Missouri surprising No. 20 Arizona State, 20-0.
Clemson, the only team Maryland has beaten, continued its bid for national attention with a 31-13 win over Virginia Tech, the school that first Claiborne.
Stanford's star quarterback, Guy Benjamin, suffered a sprained knee after completing 16 of 26 passes for 267 yards in the Cards' 20-10 win over Oregon and is sidelined indefinitely.
Oklahoma State's Terry Miller stayed in the Heisman Trophy chase, rushing for 152 yards - his 12th straight 100-yard game - but it wasn't enought to prevent a 25-17 loss to Florida State.
Texas kicker Russell Erxleben, with the Longhorns holding a 54-7 third-quarter lead over Rice, kicked an NCAA record 67-yard field goal. Texas won, 72-15.
Grambling's Doug Williams passed for 329 yards and five touchdowns in a 70-7 thrashing of Prairie View A&M, M.
And Central State of Ohio, down by 17 points late in the first half, took a cue from baseball manager Earl Weaver and walked off the field following a penalty and refused to return, giving Tennessee State a 1-0 forfeit.
Texas Tech coach Steve Sloan, after a 10-7 win over North Carolina, described his players as "the happiest team in the world."
Perhaps the unhappiest team in the world is Maryland, once ranked as high as ninth in the nation.
Claiborne pointed out that the game should not have come down to the call on Burrus (quarterback Mark Manges overthrew Vince Kinney in the end zone by inches, and another possible scoring drive was botched when Preacher Maddox dropped a thrid-down pass). Nonetheless, Claiborne, who religiously refuses to criticize officials, could not resist expressing a bit of frustration.
"Last year, when we won 11 games, things like that went out way," said Claiborne, suffering his first three-game losing streak at Maryland, and his first Atlantic Coast Conference defeat since 1973. "This year, they're going the other way.
"We didn't feel that was a good call. We thought he (Burrus) intercepted the ball. He just made a great play. I don't like to be critical of officials, but it looked to me like no contact was made until the ball was in the air, then they both broke for the ball. No flag was thrown until they went for the ball. He was not tugging on him.
"You can't do a thing about it, but write up a report. There's no question it was the key to the win, although it shouldn't have come down to that."
on the bright side, Maryland's rickety rushing attack was pumped alive by the 5-foot-10 Maddox, who, after three seasons in Steve Atkins' shadow, has become the starting tail-back by virtue of performance, not by injury to Atkins.
Maddox started Saturday and gained 113 yards, while Atkins returned kickoffs and nursed an ailment that is not so much a knee injury as it is fear of further knee injury.
Maddox will start Saturday against Syracuse and it is now up to Atkins to win back the position.
Atkins and Claiborne had a long talk last week about Atkins' wavering confidence. He suffered a slight knee ligament strain against Penn State that many players would tape and forget.
But Atkins guarded it in practice, and Claiborne went with Maddox.
"I'm sure Steve's better," said Claiborne, referring to Atkins' knee. "He's got to practice hard, he's got to be able to get out and run the plays. There's nothing more I can do about it, and he understands that. It's up to him."
The Terps suffered eight injuries none of which looked serious, but which could hold some players out of practice or possibly out of Saturday's game.
Among the wounded are defensive back Chris Ward, defensive linemen Marlin Van Horn and John Sturdivant and tight end Eric Sievers, who all suffered shoulder injuries. Linebacker Brad Carr sprained an ankle and receiver Dean Richard's still ails from a pulled back muscle.
Welsh's Navy team fell to Duke, 28-16, making enough mistakes to preclude blaming the loss on the officials. But Welsh made it clear after the game that it's going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy from now on.
Welsh, who has declined his option to bring the East Coast Athletic Conference referees who oversee his home games to his road contests, complaied about the rulings of Saturday's officials, who are affiliated with the ACC.
"A lot of calls, have been going against us," said Welsh. "We'll see if we can't do something about that. We've just been too nice in letting Michigan and Duke use their own officials."