New posters and catchy slogans can be seen all over College Park. The promotion drawing the most attention is a poster of actress Susan Anton, wearing a Terrapin jacket. Above her head, it reads, "My Passion is Maryland Football," with the emphasis on "Pass."
Maryland football is undergoing a metamorphosis. New head coach. New uniforms. New offense. New attitude. And if things go according to plan, a new image.
"We're not going to play cautiously," said Coach Bobby Ross. "We're not going to be conservative. The players better be ready to be aggressive and on the attack constantly in every phase of the game. We're going for the score."
Ross' task is to bring Maryland football back to national prominence, where it was in the early '70s when Coach Jerry Claiborne made the Terrapins the dominant force in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Last year's record was 4-6-1.
"I think the program had slipped the last couple of years," Dick Dull, the school's athletic director said yesterday. "But it was the fault of all of us, not just Jerry Claiborne. We had the ACC to ourselves in 1973, '74 and '75. Then we became too casual, too cavalier in our approach. We began relying on past accomplishments and fell into the normal syndrome."
To stop the decline, Maryland will attempt to play exciting football, which means being more imaginative than having a tailback run off tackle 50 times a game. "Bobby has embarked upon a long, hourly process of getting Maryland football back to where it should be," Dull said.
The first step came last January when Ross was hired. He has restructured the recruiting approach by assigning assistant coaches to new areas of concentration.
"Coaches are very important for what they contribute," Ross said, "but it will take recruiting good players to get Maryland football back to national prominence. I want to recruit big-play people, and recruit them consistently."
Maryland has replaced Claiborne's once-impressive free-weight training room with 18 new pieces of Nautilus equipment.
Frank Costello, the former track coach, is now working as an assistant athletic director in charge of conditioning and weight training. He set up the entire workout for the football team before the summer, introducing the players to plyometrics, a weight-training concept he learned from the Soviets that emphasizes muscle speed and quickness.
"The linemen are a lot quicker," said Terrapin receiver Russell Davis. "In the past, they were body building every day. The receivers had the same regimen as the linemen. We had weight exercises where you'd lift (barbells) over your head, even though you don't use that motion on the field. Now we work only three days a week. The lifting is really concentrated."
Some 40 players stayed in the area this summer to use the new facilities, many because, Davis said, they "were embarrassed about last year."
Also gone at Maryland is the athletic-dormitory concept that Claiborne so cherished. The players will be living all over the campus.
Also, the uniforms are redder and bolder, and the helmet has been redesigned, featuring a script "Terps" in place of the block "M."
A big problem is that the Terrapins could be much improved and still finish below .500 because of a schedule that is ranked the sixth toughest in the nation. It includes defending national champion Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and West Virginia. The opener Sept. 11 will be against Penn State.
"We'll find out very, very quickly where we are on the national scale," Ross said. "It won't take long to find out if we measure up."