Maryland Football Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday that a two-year probation imposed on Clemson by the Atlantic Coast Conference may increase Clemson's intensity and further motivate the defending national champions against Maryland in a game for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Saturday.
"I don't think the sanctions will affect Clemson negatively," Ross said, in response to a question at his weekly press luncheon. "I think they may look at the situation and say, 'The Atlantic Coast Conference is doing this and that to us,' and be even more fired up.
"I know Danny Ford pretty well and he's a very good coach," Ross said. "He'll keep them (the Tigers) in tune. There's too much riding on this game for the team to be thinking about anything else. The sanctions may be more motivational than anything else. It won't hinder them."
The Washington Post reported in Tuesday's editions that the ACC has voted to put the Clemson football program on two years probation for recruiting violations. Clemson also awaits the results of an 18-month investigation by the NCAA into alleged violations.
Ross said he is sure Clemson's problems will not affect the Terrapins. Maryland has won seven straight games and has a chance to win its first ACC football title since 1976.
"I totally believe it will not affect us," Ross said. "I'm not going to let that happen."
Running back John Nash agreed with Ross and expressed the sentiments of many Maryland players.
"Clemson can still probably go to a bowl game this season, and they're fighting to win the ACC title. This game is too big for their players to think about what may be coming soon. And it won't affect the way we approach the game."
The winner of Maryland-Clemson is guaranteed at least a tie for the ACC title, since the conference has no tie-breaking proceedure. Maryland plays Virginia at Charlottesville on Nov. 20 and Clemson plays Wake Forest in Tokyo on Nov. 27.
Maryland may have to face Clemson with two of its best players at less than full strength. Russell Davis, the team's leading receiver, and Gurnest Brown, a burly defensive tackle, are still trying to recuperate from twisted right ankles. Davis practiced yesterday, but Brown was on crutches. Ross said it won't be known whether Brown will play until just before game time at 12:30 p.m. (WDVM-TV-9 and (WBAL-TV-11).
Maryland officials say they are expecting more than 46,000 fans, the first sellout at Byrd Stadium since Sept. 11, 1980, when 48,123 came to see Penn State. There is no chance to set a new attendance record, however. The Terrapins drew more than 50,000 four times between 1974 and 1979. Since then, the temporary seating capacity has been greatly reduced to prevent obstruction of the scoreboard.
Ross noted yesterday that Clemson's defensive players are bigger than most teams in the National Football League. "Their starting tackles average 275 pounds, their smallest linebacker is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, and their nose tackle (William Perry) is 6-3, 310 pounds. He covers up both our punter and guard. He presents a major problem.
Maryland is also concerned about facing a sprint-out, option offense team for the first time this year.