A few minutes later, Vanderlinden called the new stadium "arguably the finest football facility in the nation."
The high-scoring Yellow Jackets and their gifted junior quarterback Joe Hamilton are capable of turning a dreamlike afternoon into a nightmare for any coach with a young secondary like that of Maryland.
Georgia Tech (5-2) averages 36 points a game and Hamilton, who is expected to play despite a hip pointer, is the leading passer in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 88 completions in 158 attempts for 1,496 yards and 13 touchdowns.
It is not only the first NCAA Division 1-A game at the stadium, but Vanderlinden's coaching debut in Baltimore.
He is 0-0 in this city and can afford to be highly optimistic.
But Maryland is only 1-4-2 in seven previous trips here to Memorial Stadium to meet nationally ranked opponents.
The best Bobby Ross could do in Baltimore was 1-1-1, and his successor, Joe Krivak, was 0-3-1.
However, Krivak will always be remembered for tying Maryland's most-hated foe, Penn State, 13-13, in 1989 in Baltimore. The Terps are an inglorious 1-35-1 against the Nittany Lions in the now-defunct series.
Maryland's only victory over Penn State came in 1961 at Byrd Stadium, 21-17.
The last time the Terps played in Baltimore was 1991, when they were blitzed, 47-7, by Penn State.
Classic Baltimore debut
When Ross brought his Maryland team to Memorial Stadium in 1984 for the school's first football game in the city, there was lot of fanfare as the players rode through town on buses.
The players responded to the warm greeting by beating No. 20 Clemson, 41-23, that Nov. 17 afternoon before a sellout crowd.
It all seemed like such a perfect match that day, Maryland football and Baltimore, one that would last a long time.
But the marriage broke off for a year in 1988 and was ended in 1991.
Now there is a new beginning to the relationship in a new stadium.
Vanderlinden said he hopes the people of Baltimore and the state of Maryland make a "great statement" by coming out in large numbers to watch the Terps play Georgia Tech.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for people to see a good football game in an NFL stadium without having to pay NFL prices and licensing fees," said Vanderlinden.
Tickets for Saturday's game range from $17 to $65, with the $65 seats being on the prestigious club level. Those same club level seats cost $297.50 for a Ravens game.
Maryland's director of ticket operations, Jack Zane, said last night the school has sold the 18,000 tickets it had for the game.
But Zane would not speculate on how many fans he thought would be there Saturday. "I really don't know because I have no idea how many Ticketmaster has sold or how many has been sold at other outlets in Baltimore," he said.
Next for Terps
Opponent: No. 23 Georgia Tech
Site: Ravens stadium
When: Saturday, noon
TV/Radio: Ch. 24/WBAL (1090 AM) Line: Georgia Tech by 12
Pub Date: 10/28/98