Joe Krivak is coming back to coach the football team, Maryland is going to the Independence Bowl to play Louisiana Tech and Andy Geiger is breathing easier. He said yesterday that for the first time since he arrived in College Park two months ago, he feels "like an athletic director."

Said Geiger: "Up to now there's been a lot of holding actions and damage control and getting a feel for things, but this is action. This is movement. I feel like I'm part of something that's striving forward."

Krivak and Geiger reached an agreement Wednesday after three days of meetings to discuss Maryland's football future. The coach's contract, which pays approximately $91,000 per year, expires Dec. 10. Details of the new deal are expected to be revealed Monday.

Geiger's feeling is about 180 degrees different from a week ago when the Terrapins were about to travel to Charlottesville to face then-No. 8 Virginia in their season finale. Maryland went into the game a 22-point underdog and came out with a 35-30 victory and a 6-5 regular season record. In three hours, Maryland's season and Krivak's prospects took a dramatic turn.

Two days later, Geiger and Krivak began a series of meetings that culminated Wednesday with news of the contract renewal and the chance to meet Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 15.

"It's all sort of amazing; there were a lot of things happening in a very short period of time," said senior nose tackle Rick Fleece.

Geiger, a fiery personality, apparently wanted to be convinced that the often-stoic Krivak shared some of his his vision and enthusiasm.

"They were fair discussions; he didn't agree with everything that was said but that wasn't what I was trying to do," Geiger said. "I wanted to get to know him, to see if there was a fire. I wouldn't say he was gung-ho about everything, but I think he was energized.

"It wasn't so much a sense of what he said to me, I just got a feeling that there was a good base and we could go forward together. Joe has been in a difficult position from the start and he's been able to move the program forward -- he's at least earned the opportunity to continue.

"His last two recruiting classes were good ones and he's off to a good start this year. . . . This last year, given his schedule, finishing 6-5 and recognizing the feelings of the players in the program, I found that compelling."

Krivak has complained through the years that upgraded admission standards at Maryland and a daunting schedule have created a competitive imbalance.

"There were no promises made about relaxing standards or adding more individual admissions," Geiger said, "but everyone agreed that we could and should work together internally -- and that includes not complaining about one of the strengths of the university as a reason for the football job being difficult."

Geiger said that in recruiting players for Maryland, "We point out that we play a strong schedule, and if an athlete comes here he'll be able to play against the best. That can't be an asset and a liability -- we're going to play an ambitious schedule, that's just how it is."

Flexibility between the athletic department and administration allowed Maryland to accept the Independence Bowl invitation. Fleece, fellow co-captain Scott Zolak and other Maryland seniors played a role in Geiger's decision to rearrange the exam schedule of team members to participate in the game, which began looking for a team when Baylor dropped out of consideration in hopes of landing in the Cotton Bowl.

"We had read where Mr. Geiger had said we couldn't play in bowl because of exams," Fleece said. "We had a captains' meeting with him and he asked what I thought. I told him I would really be disappointed if we had a chance to go to a bowl and didn't. Exams can always be made up."

On Wednesday, the athletic council recommended to university president William E. Kirwan that players be allowed to make up exams in order to participate.

With a payout of $600,000, the Independence Bowl is regarded as a minor postseason game. The Atlantic Coast Conference gets $100,000 and Maryland has to purchase 15,000 tickets at a cost of $25 each, knocking off possibly $375,000 more.

The athletic department is allocating the remaining $125,000 for expenses. Any money that Maryland makes will depend on how good a job Geiger does of selling tickets.

"Welcome to the world of the bowl," he said. "We're very happy to be going but it's not a payday -- we'll make expenses if we work hard. We may ask people to buy tickets even if they can't go to the game and we're going to ask around down there about things like military bases -- maybe have an 'Adopt the Terrapins' type thing."