Golf was very, very good to Joe Krivak this summer, as the Maryland coach won a set of clubs in one outing and a trip to Sweden during a tournament for college coaches. But with fall approaching, it's once again time for Krivak to deal with more pressing matters -- such as staying eligible to compete in similar events next year.

"I think he's done a great job since I've been here," said fifth-year senior Scott Zolak, the team's quarterback. "You couldn't ask for more from a coach, a person or a leader. He's not the ones on the field, he's not playing or making the mistakes."

But Krivak is the person who ultimately is held accountable. And with this season marking the last year of the four-year contract he signed upon replacing Bobby Ross, the coach's future status threatens to overshadow matters such as Zolak's development and the Terrapins' offensive scheme.

In the wake of last year's 3-7-1 season (which gave him a 12-20-1 mark as coach), Krivak said he talked with school officials about a contract extension, arguing that it "was critical to recruiting."

A new pact would have rewarded a man who has been a constant off the field during a period of turmoil in Maryland's athletic department, and it would have made a statement about what's important for the school. However, Krivak's contract was not extended, and his future in College Park likely rides on this season's results.

Not surprisingly, Krivak has remained nonplused about his situation, a proud man merely resigned to "going about my business.

"I don't want charity or anything for nothing and I'm not going to beat my own drum," he said. "I've always felt that if you do a good job there will be a spot for you. . . . At the end of the season I'll review what's going on with my family and I'll look around -- maybe the decision will be made for me."

If that decision is based purely on on-the-field results, this may be Krivak's best chance for success since he became coach. As many as 40 juniors and seniors could see regular action for Maryland, something Krivak said hasn't happened during his tenure. In addition, there are five or six freshmen who may be able to contribute.

Most of that depth will come on defense, where nine starters are returning. Anchoring the line will be 6-foot-2, 255-pound cocaptain and nose guard Rick Fleece, who will be teamed with Larry Webster and Derek Steele. At linebacker there are four players who made at least 40 tackles last year, including leading tackler Glenn Page; and there's Scott Whittier, who was voted a team captain in 1989 but missed the season with a back injury.

Seven of the defensive backs saw action in at least four games a year ago, a hodgepodge caused by what seemed to be a weekly run of injuries.

"We just didn't have a lot of people," said junior cornerback Scott Rosen. "Each week we didn't know what we were going to do -- we were putting in new defenses every week just to try to cover up the lack of depth. But we got experience, and now you feel confident that the next guy will be able to step in."

Offensively, Maryland has to hope Zolak will be able to step into the shoes of talented predecessors Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, Dan Henning and, most recently, Neil O'Donnell. Although he has thrown only 91 passes in his career, Zolak was voted a cocaptain by his teammates; and at 6-5, 221 pounds, his potential has caught the coaches' eyes.

"He can be a great one because he has all the attributes," said quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman. "I really like his presence. He's completely in control, he reads defenses very well and he knows where everybody is on the field."

The last two attributes may be even more important this season because Maryland figures to put the football in the air a lot, given Zolak's arm and the fact that the receiving corps is the most talented unit on offense.

Redshirt freshman Frank Wycheck was impresssive during spring practice but lacks experience, and freshman Mark Mason, who broke most of Paul Palmer's records at Churchill High, has yet to be subjected to the pounding that a college running back regularly faces.

The inexperienced offensive line also may give Krivak cause to tinker with the team's attack. The one-back offense, which the coach said he used about 30 percent of the time in the past, might get even more of a workout this year -- especially after input from Esiason, the Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback who spent some time with the Terrapins this spring.

If the four-receiver attack -- led by senior Barry Johnson (team-high 43 catches last season) -- doesn't lead to more touchdowns, it should at least put Dan DeArmas in position to put points on the board. The junior converted 11 of 16 field goal attempts last year.

However, Maryland could be vastly improved from a year ago and still not have that progress reflected in its win-loss record. The Terrapins play a horrific schedule that includes games at Michigan and West Virginia and a home-away-from-home game against Clemson at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.

In the final four weeks of the season, they travel to Duke and North Carolina, then stay on the road to face nationally ranked Penn State and Virginia. Of the four, all but the Tar Heels likely will be jockeying for bowl postions.

"The schedule doesn't help, but then it hasn't helped for four years now," said Krivak. ". . . We've got good leadership and a good attitude; we have to keep it that way.

"Really, the only thing that's going to turn this around is winning. The kids understand that and I don't think we're too far from that."

1989 RECORD: 3-7-1, 2-5 in ACC.

COACH: Joe Krivak (fourth year, 12-20-1).

OFFENSE: Multiple.


TOP PLAYERS LOST: QB Neil O'Donnell (now with Pittsburgh Steelers); T Mark Hofland (now with Detroit Lioins); G Mike Kiselak (now with Kansas City Chiefs); G Blaine Rose (now with New England Patriots); RB Bren Lowery (team-high 482 yards rushing); RB Mike Anderson; LB Scott Saylor.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Scott Zolak (2 career TDs), Sr.; WR Barry Johnson (16 yards per catch), Sr.; LB Glenn Page (team-high 111 tackles), Sr.; NG Rick Fleece (72 tackles), Sr.; DT Larry Webster (second team all-ACC), Jr.; LB Scott Whittier (missed last season with back injury), Sr.; K-P Dan DeArmas (11 of 16 FGAs), Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: RB Frank Wycheck (redshirt), Fr.; RB Mark Mason (Churchill High), Fr.; RB Brian Brown (22 TDs at High Point High); LB Archie Clark (Oakland Mills High), Fr.; OL Andy Rosewag (Old Mill High), Fr.; TE Corey Holobetz (Pottsville, Pa.), Fr.

PROJECTION: There is a good chance the Terrapins will be playing this season to save Krivak's job, and a difficult road schedule will make the assignment a challenge. The defense returns nine starters and should be better than when it allowed 374.8 yards per game and allowed opponents to convert 43.3 percent of third-down situations. The Terrapins' season, however, rests on Zolak's ability to step into the offense. To have any chance at success, Zolak must hope Maryland finds someone who can run the ball with some consistency. -- Neil H. Greenberger

1. MARYLAND COACH JOE KRIVAK: It's make-or-break time.

2. VIRGINIA WR HERMAN MOORE: Hitting his stride.

3. VIRGINIA QB SHAWN MOORE: The Cavaliers' candidate.

4. NAVY COACH GEORGE CHAUMP: The Middies are boring no more.

5. HOWARD RB JAMES "J.J." CARPENTER: An offense with the will to win.