The Redskins have dominated local football since their founding father and dictatorial owner, the late George Preston Marshall, jerked them out of Boston 44 years ago.

Left in their wake were strong programs at Georgetown, once the leading football power here, Catholic University, which played in the first Orange Bowl, and George Washington.

Only once have the Redskins been challenged.

James Moore Tatum took the University of Maryland to the top in the 1950s with a series of powerful teams that threatened the Redskins' box-office monopoly.

From 1950, when the Sammy Baugh era was winding down, to 1955, Tatum's last year at Maryland, the Redskins managed only 29 victories. In the same time, Maryland managed to win the Sugar Bowl and a national championship, and played in two Gator and two Orange Bowls.

So many fans turned from the Redskins to Tatum's Terrapins that Marshall did what comes naturally to a distressed owner watching competition he never previously recognized -- he tried to hire Tatum.

He almost succeeded, but at the last moment Tatum, mindful of the high mortality rate of coaches under Marshall, chose to remain a big man on campus.

The alliance of Tatum and the late Harry Clifton (Curly) Byrd, the Maryland president who also coached the Terps at one point, was rooted in opportunism.

Tatum desperately wanted to become the most recognized coach since Amos Alonzo Stagg or Knute Rockne. Byrd's goal was more modest -- governor of Maryland. Both failed. Tatum died in 1958, a victim of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, in only his third year of coaching his alma mater, North Carolina. Byrd was soundly defeated for the governship by Republican Theodore McKeldin.

One of the strongest planks in Byrd's platform was how much he had done to upgrade football at Maryland. The state's voters, however, were more concerned with taxes, roads, schools and hospitals.

Maryland has had six head coaches since the Tatum era -- which lasted nine seasons -- but none has come close to matching the achievements of this hulking, driven man from McColl, S.C., who in his first head-coaching job, in 1946, revived football interest at Oklahoma.

In 1947, Tatum's first year at Maryland, the team played "powerhouses" such as Richmond, Delaware, Duquesne, VPI, and Washington and Lee, which prompted a cynic to observe that "the Long Island Railroad played a tougher schedule."

But it wasn't long before Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, LSU, Mississippi, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Auburn, UCLA, Miami and Navy were on the schedule. "I'd rather lose to them," Tatum said, which was a lie, "than beat those others. At least we'll make a lot of money."

Under Tatum, who was personally recruited by Byrd, the Terrapins moved out of antiquated Byrd Stadium into their current 45,000-seat stadium, also named for the late coach-president.

Cole Field House, home of the Terrapin basketball team, was constructed with bowl-game revenues from the Tatum years, as was an 18-hole golf course.

Tatum's teams included so many out-of-state players that one critic observed, "Maryland's football team has more Pennsylvanians than Fred Waring."

Tatum recruited heavily from the Pittsburgh area, signing players such as Ed and Dick Modzelewski, Bernie Faloney and Stan Jones, all-Americas who graduated to the National Football League. He plucked Bobby Ward, a 180-pound guard and unanimous all-America, from an Army team at Fort Benning, and Ron Waller, who became a brilliant Rams running back, from Laurel. Tatum also recruited Jack Scarbath from Rising Sun, Md.; Dick Bielski, who played for the Eagles, Cowboys and Colts, from Baltimore; Chet Hanulak, who starred for the Browns, from Hackensack, N.J.; Ray Krause, the late Giants tackle, from Washington; and all-pro linebacker Bob Pellegrini from Philadelphia.

The season after Tatum left, Maryland was 2-7-1.

Several years ago, a motorist driving to Florida who knew Tatum stopped in a gas station he had owned in McColl.

"My friend, Jim Tatum, the football coach, was born here," he told the attendant. "You know him?"

"Sure did, he was my cousin, but he wasn't born here. He was born at Fletcher's Siding, up the road a piece, but Jim always claimed McColl. Fletcher's Siding wasn't big enough for him. He always wanted to be a big shot."

He was.