Maryland Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday he will talk later this week with officials from the University of Missouri who have contacted him about that Big Eight school's head coaching vacancy.
On the day after winning his second Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 45-34 victory over Virginia, Ross said the program he has rebuilt at Maryland "is where we want it to be, on solid ground and in good stead right now."
But Ross said he owes it to his family to listen to Missouri, which fired Warren Powers last week after the team finished 3-7-1.
Missouri got permission from Maryland's director of athletics, Dick Dull, to talk to Ross. Ross confirmed yesterday, "I have since heard from them. And I do intend to talk to them. I haven't really addressed it, and I am not seeking anything. We'll talk and then see what happens. I at least owe that consideration to my family. My own personal income is the least of the concerns. Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but it is."
Missouri Athletic Director Dave Hart reportedly has been looking for a successor to Powers without a formal search committee. He could not be reached for comment last night.
Ross was asked if any decision -- should it come to that -- would hinge on the fact that he has most of this year's 8-3 team returning next year. "It would be a consideration," Ross said. "But my big concern, and I said this when I came here (in 1981), is where our program will be in five years. That would be a major consideration in any job."
Ross was contacted officially by at least one school -- the University of Minnesota -- last year. At that time, Maryland extended Ross' contract. More important, Ross said, the university made commitments he found necessary for continued improvement of the program.
Dull has said on several occassions he is concerned about losing Ross. There have been several reports that other major colleges or professional teams have been interested in him. He has become one of the hot properties in the country after taking a team that was 4-6-1 in Jerry Claiborne's last year, and compiling a regular-season record of 24-9 in three years.
Ross, asked if he liked the attention, said, "I'm not too flattered by anything and I'm not on an ego trip. There are a lot of ups and downs in this business.
"It wasn't too long ago that everyone was saying a lot of nice things about Warren Powers. I know I could be fired any time. Things can change rapidly, which is why you have to look at any program five years down the road."
Ross' comments came less than 24 hours after Maryland won its sixth straight game and eighth in the last nine by beating Virginia in Charlottesville.
With one game to go -- against Tennessee in the Sun Bowl Dec. 22 -- Ross called this his most satisfying season in coaching. It's not hard to figure out why: "We did it the hard way," Ross said.
The Terrapins started the season 0-2, with six turnovers in the opener against Syracuse and seven dropped passes against the Orangemen and Vanderbilt.
It was after the Vanderbilt game that Ross appeared uncharacteristically despondent at a postgame press conference, saying he wasn't "reaching" his players.
Ross said in his office Friday it was "amazing to me how nobody seemed excited over the season" in August and September.
But by Saturday afternoon, most of that had been forgotten. Rick Badanjek, the chunky fullback who rushed for a career-high 217 yards and two touchdowns against Virginia, didn't want the season to end just yet. "What I'd really like to do is play those first two games over," Badanjek said, "and that one that we lost by a point to Penn State."
Badanjek was one of several players who thought Maryland should also be in a bigger bowl than the Sun. "What I wish we could do is play the No. 1 or No. 2 defense in the country and just see what would happen," he said.
Maryland, on the strength of its last six games, may very well be one of the best dozen teams in the country.
The offense scored 40 or more points in five of the last six games. In four of those games (Duke, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia), Maryland could have scored again toward the end, but Ross chose not to do so.
During that six-game winning streak, the offense averaged 510 yards per game, 270 by rushing.