The University of Maryland's football coach, Bobby Ross, said he was happier yesterday than he had been in a year, after a morning meeting with Athletic Director Dick Dull in which the two agreed on exact terms for his new contract.

Dull said a formal contract probably would not be signed until next week.

But Ross confirmed that the contract would be a perpetuating four-year arrangement, with an automatic one-year extension at the end of each season. He would earn slightly more than $85,000 a year salary, plus a radio/television package worth $65,000, in addition to an annuity, the free use of a $250,000 house and luxury automobile.

During a wide-ranging discussion about his future at Maryland, the direction and perception of the football program, he said he did not believe signing a contract would stop speculation that he might leave to take another coaching job.

But he added, "I don't think I will ever go out and pursue another job. I won't pursue one. If somebody comes to me and it would be something that in my mind should be listened to, I wouldn't turn my back on it; I think any coach in the country would say that.

"But I'm happier now than I have been in a year, almost a year to the day. We have some specific directions now, and I'm happy about that."

All parties involved indicated that the actual contract had not been signed because Dull had been out of town at the Atlantic Coast Conference meetings.

Yesterday's meeting was Dull's first with Ross since last week when Ross decided to remain at Maryland and withdraw his name from consideration for the coaching job at the University of Minnesota.

Maryland has tried for a year to sign Ross to a long-term contract. But Ross wanted a commitment from the school regarding admissions guidelines and stadium improvements. He said yesterday that both were equally important.

He acknowledged that expectations at Maryland were higher this season than in his first three years there -- all of which produced 8-3 records in the regular season, plus bowl bids.

"There are higher expectations, yes," he said. "But that's good, too. Sometimes it makes the pressures of my job greater . . . but if you're going to get to that (peak) level, you've got to learn to deal with that. It also tells me we've taken another step; we've raised our goals, and that's very positive."

He said he doesn't foresee any major improvements standing in the way of Maryland's consistently being a top 20 team. "I don't ever see Maryland getting into a stadium of 85,000," he said.

"That's not what they need. We don't need an athletic dormitory." Ross, with the support of the players, put an end to a football dorm when he took over from Jerry Claiborne in January 1982.

"The attendance has come up quite a bit, and the group of hard-core supporters are tremendous . . . I would like to see that hard-core group become larger within the state and within the area. But we're closer to being accepted as a state-wide team than we were four years ago . . . The youngsters in the area believe we are competitive now."

Of course, many expected more of Maryland than an 8-3 season and a trip to the Cherry Bowl, Dec. 21 in Pontiac, Mich.

But Ross said that for Maryland's record to be any better "would involve luck."

He was referring specifically to losses to top-ranked Penn State and No. 2 Miami -- both headed for New Year's Day bowl games.

Each of the games was decided by one play late in the contest and kept Maryland's record from being 10-1, with the only loss being to fourth-ranked Michigan.

"I think our program has arrived," Ross said.

"The fact that we were on national television three times this season has to give some credibility to that. They don't just put us on television because they like Bobby Ross."