COLLEGE PARK -- With less than 30 minutes until kickoff, the day has gone smoothly so far for Beverly Rumley, the Jefferson Pilot television producer who is in charge of bringing Saturday's Maryland-Florida State game into living rooms up and down the Atlantic Coast Conference corridor.
The camera people, technicians and announcers -- 50 people in all -- have been given their marching orders. The rehearsal has gone well, and the pre-game show has started without a hitch.
Now, it's time for Rumley to get the pre-game clock started so the kickoff will take place at the prescribed 12:10 p.m. time, as well as meet with the referee to go over time cues.
"I have a lot of confidence in these folks. They're professionals," said Rumley of the production crew. "The referee I'm not so sure about."
Referee Terry McAuley is working his first ACC game and his first televised contest, so it's possible he might forget to turn on his microphone to announce penalties.
More importantly, McAuley might miss the on-field crew member who signals officials for timeouts, when the 42 minutes of commercials can run during the nearly 3 1/2 -hour broadcast.
As kickoff approaches, Rumley takes her seat in the tiny front compartment of the 18-wheel truck parked in lot Z of the Maryland campus that serves as a production facility.
Five other people, including director Jimmy Moore, share the darkened cubbyhole with Rumley.
This is the nerve center of the production, where Moore, wearing a headset that allows him to bark out orders to nearly all the crew, stares into a bank of monitors that display whatever is coming through the seven cameras positioned throughout Byrd Stadium as well as the replay machines.
Rumley, who sits next to Moore in the front row, calls replays, gives time cues and is in charge of establishing a story line for the game, which is expected to be a blowout.
Rumley and the game announcers -- play-by-play man Steve Martin, analyst Jack Corrigan and sideline reporter Mike Hogewood -- had fretted during breakfast about how to introduce and get out of a sound bite where Florida State coach Bobby Bowden decried the possibility that the NCAA would not allow some suspended Seminoles players to play at all this season.
The piece goes flawlessly, but there is a new problem: Maryland will get the opening kickoff, a fact that causes a slight bit of consternation to the otherwise placid Rumley.
The reason: Maryland runs a no-huddle offense, which doesn't give them enough time to run a taped piece where Terps quarterback Scott Milanovich discusses Maryland's three keys to victory.
Rumley gambles and runs the piece, which extends over the first scrimmage play. A Maryland player is hurt after the first play, a perfect spot to run the Milanovich piece in hindsight, but how can you know that before the fact?
However, the JP folks get a huge break as Maryland scores a touchdown on its first possession. Executive producer Jimmy Rayburn, stationed in the tape room in back of the truck, grins broadly and for two good reasons.
The early Maryland score means viewers may stay with the telecast longer than expected, since the Terps, a 33-point underdog, look capable of staying in the game for a while. Secondly, the highlight -- a 7-yard Milanovich pass to Brian Underwood -- will make all the national highlights, giving JP some extra publicity.
Indeed, as the Terps lead throughout most of the first half, the JP crew seems to feed off the possibility of an upset, but the Seminoles, who trailed 20-17 at halftime, crush Maryland 35-0 in the second half.
There's nothing like a blowout, particularly a blowout that goes 30 minutes longer than expected, to sap your energy. By the time the fourth quarter starts, Dean Coley and Bob Geller, the two men who run the six tape machines, and Eileen Leahy, who makes at least 15 trips between the tape room and the production booth to run scores from other games, are out of gas.
"Just ground the ball. You haven't got a chance. . . . Let's get this over," Coley growls at Maryland backup quarterback Kevin Foley with 3:52 left.
Within two minutes after the crew signs off the air at 3:58, Martin, Corrigan, Moore and Rayburn are huddled around a rental van, hoping against hope to catch 4:50 p.m. flights out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Meanwhile, Rumley is calmly assessing the day's efforts. There wasn't time to get in an interview of Maryland offensive lineman Steve Ingram's parents and a tape machine malfunctioned late in the game, but things otherwise went well.
"The first half, I thought we were right on it. It was excellent, but things ended up the way we expected. In the end the team with the most talent won," said Rumley with a weary smile.
On to Charlottesville, Va., to do it all again next week.
Clearing the record
A couple of mistakes to clear up from Friday. First, John Dockery attended Harvard, not Notre Dame. Second, Spiro, the radio voice of Towson State football spells his last name Morekas.
Sorry for the errors.