Maryland averted its first crisis of the 1990 football season, announcing yesterday that H-back Frank Wycheck will be eligible to play in Saturday's season opener against Virginia Tech.
Coach Joe Krivak had said that because of a misunderstanding with an academic department, Wycheck, a redshirt freshman previously thought to be eligible, was instead "two one-thousandths" of a point short of the required grade point average.
The finding shocked Krivak, who said that while Wycheck's academic progress was being monitored, "there were some other guys we were watching a lot closer."
Krivak and his staff appealed Tuesday, the same day they got the news, and received a favorable decision almost immediately.
Wycheck, who is expected to start against the Hokies, would not comment about the situation and Krivak was almost as reticent.
"I'm glad it's done, let's just say that," Krivak said. "I don't want to make a big deal out of nothing. . . . We can concentrate on the next couple of days. You still have to keep on rolling. You still have to get ready. There are still kids depending on you."
The man who will be passing the ball to Wycheck, quarterback Scott Zolak, said he breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the result of the appeal.
"I was definitely worried. I have a real good feel for Frank right now. We've worked together all spring and summer. It's a big relief knowing he'll be out there," he said. "I didn't have to say anything to him about it. You just keep practicing. We knew that things would go the way they did."
For a team desperately trying to build morale after several disheartening seasons, Wycheck's restored eligibility is something for the Terrapins to build on. In recent practices for Saturday's game, the squad has exhibited great enthusiasm, which is one reason Krivak didn't want to dwell on a potentially troublesome situation.
"This has been a pretty good group. I'm hoping that that carries over into Saturday," he said. "They've worked hard and that's all you can ask; now we have to see if they can play good too."
While a victory in the season opener is obviously important for Maryland's morale, it could also provide momentum for what could charitably be described as an intimidating schedule. Virginia Tech was 6-4-1 last season; a very respectable mark but not nearly as good as the Terrapins' following four opponents.
West Virginia (8-3-1), Clemson (10-2), North Carolina State (7-5) and Michigan (10-2) were a combined 35-12-1 last season and each went to a bowl game. Maryland doesn't play a team with a losing record from 1989 until the seventh week of the season, when it hosts Wake Forest for homecoming, Oct. 13.