Several Chicago television stations reported last night that Vanderlinden told the Northwestern players and head coach Gary Barnett that he had accepted the job at Maryland, which became open when Mark Duffner was fired eight days ago.
According to WMVP Radio in Chicago, Vanderlinden was offered the job over the weekend and has one day to change his mind about the multi-year deal. If he does not change his mind today, Maryland will introduce him as its new coach tomorrow, the station said.
WMVP Radio also said Vanderlinden taking the Maryland job would prevent him from coaching Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.
Vanderlinden, 40, and Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow could not be reached for comment, and a school spokesman could not confirm the reports of Vanderlinden's hiring.
Vanderlinden is the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for Northwestern, which was the nation's Cinderella
team in 1995, when it won the Big Ten title and went to the Rose Bowl.
When Barnett appeared headed to UCLA last December, Vanderlinden was thought to be the heir apparent in Evanston, Ill. If Barnett had taken up Notre Dame on its offer to replace Lou Holtz last month, Vanderlinden again would have been a candidate to move up.
Vanderlinden turned down an offer to coach Northern Illinois last year, and reportedly interviewed for the Purdue opening that was filled recently.
Under Vanderlinden, Northwestern led the nation in scoring defense last year. Vanderlinden followed Barnett from Colorado to Northwestern in 1992, after spending nine seasons as an assistant with the Big Eight Buffaloes. He also coached at Michigan and Ball State.
A native of Livonia, Mich., Vanderlinden played football and baseball at Albion College.
Yow said that several candidates for the job requested secrecy regarding their interest, and Vanderlinden's name was not among those floated by Maryland boosters and fans.
Earlier yesterday, a Colorado State administrator said that Rams coach Sonny Lubick would be coming here for an interview this morning and returning to Fort Collins tomorrow night.
Lubick was the only major-college head coach to confirm an interest in the Maryland job.
Pub Date: 12/03/96