The last time Maryland and Tennessee met on the football field, players from both teams did pregame carousing in Mexico, police "staged" a raid on the team buses, at least one school official unsuccessfully tried his hand at bullfighting and the teams nearly came to blows at a cookout in the days leading up to the game.
From the ability to walk across the Rio Grande and enter Mexico, to the unusual entertainment provided by organizers, to the game itself -- Maryland rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to win, 28-27 -- the 1984 Sun Bowl in El Paso was a game for all time.
"It was crazy," said Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen, then the school's offensive coordinator. "The kids had a great time. We had a great time. There was just some crazy stuff that went on. It wasn't your conventional bowl game."
Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer, an assistant coach for the Volunteers at the time, also gave the impression that this was an unusual trip.
"It was an entertaining week in El Paso, to say the least," the straight-laced Fulmer said.
The teams renew acquaintances Tuesday in Atlanta, when Maryland meets Tennessee in the Peach Bowl.
In 1984, the entertainment started when the teams arrived in west Texas.
Only a few hours into their stay, many Maryland players spent much of the night in Juarez, Mexico, visiting strip joints and dog races (among other things). Graduate assistant coach Dave Sollazzo, now the Terrapins' defensive line coach, stayed out a little too late on one of the first nights and showed up at practice the following morning with the wrong set of plays for the scout team defense.
"I guess I didn't have my thoughts together," Sollazzo said. "I was rushing."
Once practice started, it immediately became evident that something was wrong with the scout team defense. Irate, Friedgen walked over to Sollazzo, yanked the papers from his hands, quickly saw they were the wrong plays and tossed the papers into the air.
While Friedgen often struck fear into the players, their fright reached new levels on the way to a cookout for the teams at a remote location outside of El Paso. Police, dressed as marauding bandits with sombreros and bandanas and draped in ammunition, stormed a team bus on a desert road, firing blanks into the air and "kidnapping" some coaches.
"Kevin Glover, I'll never forget it, dives underneath the seats," said linebacker Chuck Faucette, now the strength coach at Southern Methodist University. "Kevin was our captain. He dove and hit it head first. Then they grab [assistant coach George Foussekis] and pull him off the bus and put him in the pickup. I'm almost crying."
Said Sollazzo: "It was like something out of the wild west. I was looking around for Jesse James. It was scary."
Glover, though, had a somewhat different recollection.
"I was sitting one row behind Coach [Bobby] Ross and as soon as it happened, I looked at him and I noticed the look on his face," Glover said.
"He knew exactly what was going on. I knew instantly this was a setup."
The same thing happened to Tennessee as it made its way to the cookout. "We had some coaches that were hiding under seats," Fulmer said. "It was wild."
The encounters with bandits were not of the end of the night's craziness, however.
A band hired to entertain the players began playing Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," which fired up the Tennessee players, excited by the prospect of another big game from star running back Johnnie Jones. Before the band could finish the song, though, Faucette leaped onto the stage, grabbed a microphone and began strutting -- changing the lyrics a little bit, too.
"Go, go broken leg Johnny, go," Faucette crowed, prompting Maryland's players to begin hooting and hollering. The jawing continued, but no punches were thrown.
A few nights later, bowl organizers staged a bullfighting exhibition for the coaching staffs. Maryland assistant equipment manager Todd Goodman reportedly just wanted to take a picture while holding a red cape in a bullring, but instead got the attention of a nearby bull. The 1,300-pound bull then ran right over Goodman, who was able to walk away uninjured.
As for the game, Tennessee took a 21-0 halftime lead and Maryland seemed on its way to a fifth consecutive bowl loss. As the coaches headed to the locker room, Ross told Friedgen and the other assistants to remain calm, believing that the players did not need to deal with angry coaches.
"The first thing I did was put a fist through a blackboard," Friedgen said.
Maryland then proceeded to pull off its second-biggest comeback of the season. Earlier in the year, trailing 31-0 at halftime, the Terrapins rallied to stun then-No. 1 Miami, 42-40. The bowl game's outcome, though, is just one of the memories the players and coaches remember fondly.
"It may be the most memorable bowl I've ever been to because of the things I saw off the field," Friedgen said.
Told of some of the escapades that happened prior to the teams' most recent meeting, several current Maryland players shook their head in disbelief. "That would never happen these days," many said.
Even the former players know that such behavior would never be accepted in present times. Faucette, returning to El Paso for the first time when the Mustangs played Texas-El Paso last month, said that coaches instructed players that Mexico was off-limits.
"We could never do that stuff anymore," Faucette said. "I'm a coach now and we could never let our kids do that anymore."