COLLEGE PARK ——Fans who looked closely at Maryland's sideline during the season-opening football game may have been puzzled by what they saw on cards held up by team managers.
Was that really a photo of TV talk-show host Regis Philbin, and — if so — what could Philbin, a Notre Dame graduate, possibly have to do with Maryland football?
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Maryland uses cards to relay signals to the offense during games. With Maryland's hurry-up offense, the idea seems to be that reading picture cards is faster than deciphering a series of hand signals.
The cards feature various television personalities and designs. ESPN broadcaster and Maryland graduate Scott Van Pelt is among those whose image is displayed.
The idea for the cards apparently came from offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
Crowton is a former Oregon assistant who helped Ducks coach Chip Kelly land his first job at the school. Oregon runs a no-huddle offense and has become known for using cards with various symbols that outsiders cannot understand.
"Crowton has a lot of fun with those pictures, I'm telling you," Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien said Tuesday. "He spends some time on them. Once the game plan is done, he's thinking of crazy ways to relay it to our offense. He's the mastermind behind it."
Maryland did not make Crowton available for comment.
One of Crowton's cards held aloft at the opener against Miami featured a photo of Philbin in one quadrant and a multi-colored triangle in another.
O'Brien was asked Tuesday whether there was some correlation between Philbin and a particular play. "There might be," he said cagily.
O'Brien spends portions of games actually speaking to Crowton, who is up in the booth. "We talk on the phone or on the headset after every drive," the quarterback said.