To walk through the Maryland locker room yesterday, one never would have guessed this week marks the one-year anniversary of the greatest comeback in college football history.
To say the Terrapins are trying to stay low key about last year's comeback from a 31-0 halftime deficit and resultant 42-40 victory in Miami would be an overstatement. Maryland is no-keying what happened last year.
Last year's rally by the Terrapins in the Orange Bowl will have nothing, and yet everything, to do with Saturday's nationally televised rematch with seventh-ranked Miami at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
Maryland linebacker Chuck Faucette said yesterday: "What happened last year doesn't mean a tinker's damn now."
Maybe not, but it's fun to remember, anyway -- and almost impossible not to. Even though Maryland Coach Bobby Ross and his team are making a concerted effort not to talk much about the comeback, Saturday's game surely wouldn't be quite as big a deal without the memory of Nov. 10, 1984.
Many will recall that Maryland trailed, 31-0, with Miami's Bernie Kosar throwing two touchdown passes. But the Terrapins scored six touchdowns in the second half and stopped Miami's two-point conversion attempt in the final minute to complete the victory.
Several of the Miami players interviewed this week said they have a special respect for Maryland, but intend to use last year's embarrassing result as incentive.
"The thing I still can't get over is how we scored all those points in the first half and Maryland stayed in the game mentally," Hurricanes cornerback Tolbert Bain said. "That's pretty unusual, for a team to be down by 31 points and still have their heads up.
"So many of the plays are imprinted in my mind forever. When it was over, the feeling was indescribable."
Another Miami player, linebacker George Mira Jr., said he looked at a videotape of the game recently "and thought to himself, 'Damn, I still can't believe it.' "
At times yesterday, Ross sounded as if last year's game didn't exist. "I told our squad last night we've got to put it behind us," he said. "It was a great win. There was some luck involved in it. I don't mind saying it; we had some luck. But no one play particularly stands out in my mind. The fact that we won was so significant, the individual plays take a back seat."
Maryland defensive guard Bruce Mesner doesn't feel this week's treatment of the comeback is much different than last year's.
"We had to put it behind us then, too, because we had to play Clemson the next week," Mesner said. "Even though it was the greatest thing to happen in the history of NCAA football, trying to relive it after the season just wasn't the same.
"It was a little bit of a letdown that we couldn't celebrate it right away like everybody else."
Faucette, who passed out at the end of the game from all the excitement, said, "I'll never, ever forget it. It's the greatest thing I've ever been involved in. It stays with you for life. But we can't dwell on that and prepare for this game. We can't live through memories of the past."
Immediately after the game last year, many players talked about how they knew the team could come back and win. But an entire year can be sobering. Now, more than one Terrapin can talk with more objectivity about what Maryland was up against, trailing, 31-0, against a team playing on its home field and needing a victory for a trip to a major bowl.
"I don't know that we were talking that much about the game at halftime," senior safety Al Covington said. "But more about redeeming ourselves, playing for pride."
Punter Darryl Wright remembered standing on the sideline in the first half and saying to himself, " 'Kosar is lighting up that scoreboard like a pinball machine.' I couldn't believe this was happening to us.
"The other thing that really stands out -- that I won't ever forget just like the rest of the guys on the team -- was what Coach Ross said at halftime -- that we'd fly back and practice that night after the game. And we knew he was serious.
"After we scored two touchdowns and held them on defense twice, guys started shouting, 'We know we can do it.' I don't remember much of anything else, but just running around the field celebrating. Any time you saw another player in a Maryland uniform, you hugged him. It was the most emotional thing that's ever happened to me."
Like most of the other Maryland players, Wright was almost apologetic about offering his recollections. "It's a whole new game this year," he said.
Perhaps. But the confidence of what happened to Maryland last Nov. 10 has helped ever since. The Terrapins have won nine of their 11 games since then, despite falling behind in eight of those 11.
Just about every Maryland player, taking a cue from Ross, says Miami could be better this year than last; that quarterback Vinnie Testaverde is as good, plus more mobile, than the celebrated Kosar; that the Hurricanes certainly will come a snortin' for revenge.
And Maryland clearly feels that too much giddy reflection over last year can only distract from preparation this week.
But as the replays of last year's game whirl away this week as promotional spots for Saturday's game, probably nothing any Terrapin can say will speak as eloquently to the matter as Joe Kraus, then a senior safety, did a year ago.
"It's historic," Kraus said. "It's the greatest comeback ever, right? We're talking Bronco Nagurski and everything?
"It's heavy, what we did. But you know what? On the plane ride back home, nobody was going crazy, not even on the bus ride to campus. You wanted to jump up and down and celebrate and go nuts and be ecstatic. But the whole thing was so unbelievable, it was hard enough to just move. Most of the guys just sat there and tried to understand it."