COLLEGE PARK -- Firings, resignations and retirements have left 20 head coaching vacancies in major-college football. The competition to fill those spots will be heated, but Debbie Yow is not going to rush into hiring a new football coach at Maryland.
"You can't panic, make some move and have to have another press conference in five years," said Yow, the athletic director who fired Mark Duffner yesterday. "My focus is not only on the time frame, but on getting the right person. It's going to be competitive, but I've never shied away from competition. We've got a lot to offer, more than other schools."
The list of possibilities for Maryland includes head coaches and assistants at the Division I-A level and several assistants in the NFL, but not Bobby Ross.
Ross, who coached Maryland from 1982-86, is supposedly upset with the San Diego Chargers, but he told a representative of the university that he intends to fulfill the three remaining years of his contract there.
According to that source, Maryland's interest in two head coaches, Louisville's Ron Cooper and East Carolina's Steve Logan, has cooled.
Several assistant coaches figure to get interviews, however, including Ralph Friedgen, one of Ross' assistants with the Chargers; Walt Harris, the quarterbacks coach at Ohio State; and Chuck Amato, the assistant head coach at Florida State.
"That's nice," Amato replied yesterday, after he was told that his name had been linked to the vacancy at Maryland. "Tell them next time to call me first."
Maryland has been sending out feelers to possible replacements for three weeks, but shied away from Amato last week because the Terps closed their season against the Seminoles. This is Amato's 15th season helping Bobby Bowden. Amato played at N.C. State in the late 1960s.
Harris, who is in his second year at Ohio State, reportedly has been interviewed by Fresno State. When he was an assistant coach with the New York Jets, one of his players was former Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason. Harris was the head coach at Pacific in 1989-91, and also coached at Cal, Michigan State and Illinois.
Maryland alumni have been pushing for Friedgen, who played for the Terps in the 1960s. He has yet to be contacted by anyone in authority at the university, but the source said that Friedgen will be interviewed.
Maryland probably will not interview Logan, whose name was linked to the job last week. Ron Cooper, one of the few African-American head coaches in Division I-A, was an attractive candidate earlier in the season, but interest has cooled this year, when the Cardinals dropped from 7-4 to 5-6.
Maryland is interested in Colorado State's Sonny Lubick, who might want to leave a conference, the WAC, that is not part of the Bowl Alliance. But Lubick is 59, and his age might be looked at as a deterrent by the Terps. He has been a candidate for several high-profile programs, and turned down Miami two years ago.
Other long shots include two former Wake Forest head coaches, John Mackovic and Al Groh.
Mackovic is rumored to want out of Texas. Groh is an assistant with the New England Patriots.
Duffner's firing became imminent last Thursday, when news surfaced that Maryland had been in touch with Notre Dame's Bob Davie, who on Sunday was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach of the Fighting Irish.
"We communicated with Bob Davie," Yow said. "He indicated to us through a third party that he would like to talk to us if this position came open."
Some of the leading candidates haven't been mentioned, because anonymity is a condition of their involvement in the search. Yow raised that point when discussing the inclusion of players on the screening committee, the make-up of which will be announced today.
"Several of them [players] voiced interest in wanting to have input in the hiring," Yow said. "We'll contact the captains, ask for few names of some solid representatives. When we have candidate on campus who doesn't mind that the world knows that he's here, we'll make them available to a small group that represents the team."
Pub Date: 11/26/96