When he drove onto campus Friday, the day after his team's upset of Connecticut, Towson football coach Rob Ambrose found the place crawling with reporters and television cameras.
"I thought, 'No way these news trucks are here because we won last night,'" Ambrose said.
No, the media sought word of Towson's cheerleader squad, which has been suspended for the year for alleged hazing. But that news took none of the shine off the Tigers' 33-18 victory over UConn, the school's first defeat of a Division I school in eight tries.
"A lot of guys came here sold on the concept of making history," said Ambrose, Towson's fifth-year coach. "There's a lot here that hasn't been done. Well, this is the ultimate paycheck for them. Writing history is fun."
It's a hoot for the coach, as well.
"At one point afterward, I had 121 text messages and 97 emails," he said. "The standard theme was, 'This is really a good day to be a Tiger.'"
Players can bask in the win until Sunday, he said, when they'll start working toward next week's game at Holy Cross.
"No matter how awesome the win, there's already a mentality of 'This was not the Super Bowl,'" Ambrose said. "In fact, by the time [Thursday night] that we got on the bus for the trip home, the guys were happy to have their chicken parmesan sandwiches and to close their eyes. It was dead quiet. They knew this was one step toward our goal to get into the playoffs."
Last year, Towson was denied a postseason berth despite a 7-4 mark and having tied for the Colonial Athletic Association title. "Leave no doubt" is the Tigers' mantra, which the coach hopes will fuel them for teams like Holy Cross (2-9 last year).
"It doesn't matter if we play Holy Cross or the Pittsburgh Steelers," Ambrose said. "These guys will be ready because we need this game to get where we want to be."
He singled out senior quarterback Peter Athens, who passed for 192 yards and a touchdown in his first start in two years, and junior running back Terrance West (Northwestern), who rushed for two TDs and 156 yards — the 12th time he has gained at least 100 yards.
But there is still room for improvement in the coach's eyes.
"Our defense was relentless," Ambrose said. "But the kicking game was disappointing. We missed two extra points and shanked a punt. We have five kickers on the roster and we may be using all of them."