Maryland football coach Ron Vanderlinden knew two weeks ago that former Illinois coach Lou Tepper was the right man to run the Terrapins' defense, and yesterday Tepper agreed with him.
Tepper signed on as Maryland defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, and was joined by two new assistants. Vanderlinden also named Rubin Carter interior defensive line coach and Sean Payton as either the receivers or running backs coach. The Terps still have five coaching vacancies, including an offensive coordinator.
"All of the coaches we hire are guys that have track records and are proven winners," Vanderlinden said. "All of them are outstanding football coaches. They are great technicians and good recruiters. I want to be surrounded by coaches that really enjoy the process of seeing young people come into a program and grow and mature and develop."
Tepper, 51, coached the Fighting Illini for five seasons. Vanderlinden and Tepper coached together at Colorado from 1983 to '87, when Tepper served as the Buffaloes' defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
Tepper, who was fired by Illinois last month, was at College Park on Dec. 4, when Vanderlinden was formally introduced as Terps coach. Vanderlinden expressed interest in Tepper early on, but did not want to pressure him.
"The immediacy with which I was hired came right after Lou's dismissal," Vanderlinden said. "He just needed some time to sort out the whole process and see where he wanted to go. I certainly understood the process Lou needed to go through. It's a natural process."
There are now three former Illini coaches on the Terps' staff. Payton, 33, was the quarterbacks coach for the Illini last year and did the same for Miami of Ohio for two years before that. Linebackers coach Chris Cosh, another former Tepper assistant, was hired by Vanderlinden last week.
Vanderlinden said Tepper's role as assistant coach will be to take over when the head coach is on the road recruiting or speaking.
"There needs to be a pecking order," Vanderlinden said.
Carter, 43, who played in two Super Bowls as a nose guard with the Denver Broncos, was the defensive line coach at San Jose State the past two seasons. Payton's role with the Terps will be decided after the rest of the coaching staff is decided.
Payton, who coached All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk at San Diego State, could have his position finalized in early January, when the Terps can begin negotiating with Northwestern quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson for the offensive coordinator job -- a position Johnson has expressed strong interest in. Northwestern plays in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.
"I'm still hopeful that after the bowl game Craig Johnson will join us," Vanderlinden said. "We're waiting for Craig Johnson's decision until after the bowl game. Our agreement with [Northwestern coach] Gary Barnett is that we'll wait until after the bowl game to speak with Craig."
Likewise, Vanderlinden said he's close to hiring two more assistants before Christmas, including a secondary coach, but did not want to make those hires without having a defensive coordinator on board first to approve of the hiring.
Ideally, the Terps' coach said he'd like to have two spots open when he goes to the American Football Coaches Conference on Jan. 5 in Orlando, where Vanderlinden believes several highly qualified candidates will be available.
NOTE: Funeral services for Terps team doctor Stanford Lavine, who died Tuesday, will be at 1 p.m. today at Washington Hebrew Congregation, followed by a burial at Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Adelphi.
Pub Date: 12/19/96