Bobby Ross, hired last month as head football coach at the University of Maryland, says he will make several changes in the program, including a revamped offense, new housing arragements for players and an increased emphasis on area recruiting.
In an interview with reporters and editors from The Washington Post, Ross also said that his primary goal will be to educate and graduate as many players as possible.
Ross succeeded Jerry Claiborne, who left Maryland in December to take the head coaching job at Kentucky. "We're going to do things a little differently," he said.
Responding to a question concerning whether he can revive interest in the football program and fill 45,000 seats in Byrd Stadium, Ross replied:
"Give me a chance to put in a winning program that will change offensively; one that will be an exciting brand of football that people will enjoy watching. If they enjoy watching the pro game, they'll enjoy our approach because that's what we're going to do."
The most obvious change in the 1982 Terrapins will be a bolder design in uniforms, part of an effort by Ross to ease some of the conservative guidelines Claiborne had imposed, and to help Maryland move toward a new and more exciting football image.
"I guess we are changing the image a little bit," Ross said. "We haven't changed the colors, but the red will be emphasized more. There are stripes on the helmet (which the players designed), but not like Cincinnati."
One major renovation for Ross will involve the installation of a pro-style offense that he will begin teaching on March 23, when the Terrapins begin spring practice.
"For us to win," Ross said, "We've got to install a whole new offensive philosophy and have some very early success with it, and really stress the unpredictable phase. We're going to go for balance; that will be our starting point.
"I think football should be fun," Ross continued. "For a period of time, I didn't have much appreciation for the pass . . . I was like Woody Hayes. But in pro football (Ross was a Kansas City Chief assistant for four years) I spent a lot of time studying the passing game. And as a result, I developed an appreciation and a philosophy for it. The key now is that you have to have balance."
Ross said that from what he has seen of last season's game films, Maryland will be strong at quarterback. Boomer Esiason, who started most of last season as a sophomore, already has impressed professional scouts. Senior Brent Dewitz, a good drop-back passer, will return after missing last year with a knee injury.
Maryland's major problem last year, in the school's first losing season (4-6-1) in 10 years, was pass defense. Ross said the defensive backfield should be stronger this season, with the new recruits challenging a more experienced group of veterans. The offensive backfield lacks speed, Ross said, but the offensive line more than compensates.
The Terrapins may not be able to show immediate improvement in 1982, having to play what Ross calls "a murderous schedule." Maryland opens with games at Penn State and West Virginia, and has home games with national champion Clemson and national powers Miami and North Carolina.
"With the type of offense we will run, we ought to attract skilled people," said Ross when asked about recruiting.
"The metropolitan area is the primary concern to us because the high school football in this area is as competitive as any place in the country," said Ross, who recruited in this area as an assistant at William and Mary and a head coach at The Citadel.
Ross also said he wants to change the housing arrangements for his players. "We're not going to stay in in an athletic dormitory, but how soon we can get out, I don't know.
"I feel part of a guy's education is to get out and meet other students, mingle with them," Ross said. "Lord, they may want to have lunch with a girl."