On the bulletin board in the Maryland locker room, beneath about a dozen newspaper clippings bearing boastful comments from North Carolina football players, hangs a simple but firm reminder to the Terrapins: "Action speaks louder than words."
A lot has been said in this week before Saturday's 1:30 game between Maryland (3-3-1, 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and North Carolina (6-1, 2-0). Most of the talk has been coming from North Carolina, where Tar Heel Coach Dick Crum accused Maryland of having "a great deal of hatred on its side of the field."
Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne has told his players to word carefully comments to reporters and not to say anything that might incite the ninth-ranked Tar Heels. Still, some Terrapins were critical of Carolina yesterday.
"Obviously, this is a big game," said Dick Dull, Maryland's athletic director. "But Dick Crum is characterizing it way out of proportion. There is no hatred on this campus for any institution. It's a good rivalry. Nothing more. I don't know where he's coming from, talking about hate. Our efforts on Saturday against North Carolina will not be motivated by hatred."
Gurnest Brown, a starting offensive tackle, said he wasn't surprised by Crum's comments. "What do you expect from North Carolina?" Brown said. "Lawrence Taylor (former Carolina linebacker) made some hellacious comments about us in past years, and the coach didn't reprimand him. They've been talking for some time now. I can't say what I want to say until after the game. We'll just see at 1:30 on Saturday. We'll see."
"North Carolina doesn't always show the class a team of its caliber should show," said Greg Vanderhout, a senior defensive tackle.
Running back John Nash winced when he read the word "hatred" in a newspaper article. "Oooh, hate. That doesn't sound good at all," Nash said. "I'm surprised he said it. At first, I took it to be a ploy to build up the game. But when I think about it again, it must be more on their part. I don't feel any hate for Carolina, though. I just want to win the football game."
"Sammy Johnson, a Carolina defensive back, is one of my best friends from high school," said Maryland cornerback Dave Taylor. "I'm supposed to hate him?"
Some players felt Crum was playing mind games with his players and with the Terrapins.
"Crum is the type who would use that to get his players up," Vanderhout said. "It's just a psych."
"(Crum's) team just lost its first game of the season (Saturday, to South Carolina) and he may be looking for something to get them going," Taylor said. "After all, they do have Clemson (3-0 in the ACC) after us. Also, maybe he's trying to provoke the Maryland players to say something that would psych up his team.
"The game will be intense," Taylor continued. "I wouldn't call it hateful. Just intense."
Said center Greg Harraka: "This is not two countries at war. The word hate is a little bit ridiculous."
At least one Terrapin, Vanderhout, is enjoying all the controversy. "It's fun to see this all building," he said. "In practice on Monday, you could feel it start. We've been having little skirmishes in practice all week, and every day the intensity gets a little big stronger. The game was big to begin with. Now, with all this talk, it's being built even more."