Some of Bobby Ross' fan mail this week hasn't been exactly pleasant.

The Maryland football coach said yesterday he has received letters criticizing him for the confusion on the sideline that prevented a last-second field goal attempt at Penn State Saturday in a game Maryland lost, 25-24.

And still other letters were critical of his earlier decision to go for two points and a victory when a routine point-after-touchdown kick would have tied the score.

Ross reacted yesterday to those letters and a critical report in a Baltimore newspaper.

"I've got people writing me, (asking), 'Why go for two points when it's been 27 years (with one victory over Penn State) and we needed a tie?' "

He said he doesn't even answer questions concerning the decision to go for the victory. "Damn it, we want to win," he said.

Ross, responding to criticism that his team was not well prepared and that his players were not disciplined enough on the sideline, said, "That, quite frankly, bothers me a little. It bothers me because we were in full control of what we wanted to do. A couple of kids (on the field goal unit) got too anxious and ran on the field.

"I don't think that's reflective of ill-preparation or anything. I am ultimately responsible," Ross said. "I don't back down from that. But I do know that we had them prepared for that situation. I do feel comfortable with that fact that we were very well prepared."

At the postgame press conference, Ross volunteered information that someone on his sideline -- "I still don't know who," he said yesterday -- called "field goal" before it was time for the field goal unit to go onto the field.

"Maybe I should have just passed it over and not mentioned it," Ross said, smiling.

"I'm not happy about it," he continued. "But what am I supposed to do, berate the youngsters? We'll rehearse it again, Monday and Thursday, just like we always do.

"I'm very sympathetic to young kids making a mistake like that -- maybe too sympathetic -- but I am. The kids weren't not alert. They were just too anxious and didn't wait for my signal."

Ross was asked about his reply to letters and calls critical of the team's preparation.

"I tell them, 'If you think we're ill-prepared and undisciplined, come in and prepare with us for 16 hours a day.' I don't mean that sarcastically; I really mean that if anyone would like to watch us prepare."

To critics of the Terrapins' 2-3 record, Ross pointed out that the five teams they have played have a combined record of 20-7, and four of the five -- Syracuse, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and Penn State -- have been ranked in the top 20 this season.

Ross complained that the most recent opponents -- Penn State and Wake Forest -- had not been penalized until the fourth quarter.

"It's the second week in a row where there hasn't been a penalty against our opponent until the last few minutes," he said. "I'm not saying our calls were wrong. I've found the penalties against us legitimate.

"But the calls have got to go both ways. I look at the film and see opponents doing some of the same things we're doing. I'd like to see more balance in the calls."

Ross also expressed displeasure with the timekeeper at Penn State. The clock had to be reset three times during the game, each time to put back seconds that were taken off wrongly during Maryland possessions.