SHREVEPORT, LA., DEC. 15 -- The last time Maryland Athletic Director Andy Geiger watched the Terrapins play before tonight, against Virginia in the regular season finale, the football program was in a state of flux, to say the least.

Would the team suffer its sixth-straight non-winning season after a loss to the then-eighth-ranked Cavaliers? As a result, would Coach Joe Krivak lose his job?

Today, four weeks after the Terrapins' stunning, 35-30 victory, life has taken a different turn. Krivak was given a four-year contract and Maryland gained a berth in tonight's Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech. Two national-caliber recruits, Montgomery College-Rockville quarterback John Kaleo and DeMatha High School kicker Dave DeArmas, have made verbal commitments.

And Geiger is breathing easier.

"You're much less the new AD when you've made your first major decision. There's much more sense of being part of the family now," said Geiger, who began his tenure in October. "I have a different relationship with the football team now than I did the last time we played.

"We went through the process of making the decision to bring Joe back and being with him has brought me into the circle."

Now that he's there, Geiger wants to take make sure there are no backward steps. Despite tonight's 34-34 tie with Louisiana Tech, in his eyes the Independence Bowl will serve as a springboard for the program.

"This event has become a rallying point for the Maryland family. I'm very pleased with the support -- both internal and external," Geiger said before the game. "I can't think of a negative from being here. You don't go all the way back ever -- all of the positives we've built up here don't get destroyed."

On the field, Geiger points to the weeks of extra contact between coaches and players because of the bowl berth, as well as the positive impact on recruiting. Just as important to him, however, is the opportunity to establish the program in the Washington area.

A number of changes are in store. This season, for example, all of Maryland's home games began at noon, which, combined with a preponderance of early-season dates, led to a disappointing average attendance of 32,000.

Next year, however, the Terrapins' non-televised games likely will begin at 1:30 or 4 p.m., with the possibility of night games.

Another possibility will be corporate sponsorship for home games, although given the recent departure of marketing director Jeff Hathaway to Connecticut, Geiger said those plans will have to wait until next month.