Bobby Ross got much of the credit for Maryland's short reign as the most dominant team in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the mid 1980s, but Joe Krivak was often referred to as the guru and play-caller for a string of record-setting Terps quarterbacks.
Krivak, who died Tuesday after battling leukemia, tutored a line of Maryland quarterbacks that began with Boomer Esiason and Frank Reich, included Stan Gelbaugh and Dan Henning, and ended with Neil O'Donnell and Scott Zolak after Krivak succeeded Ross as head coach in 1987.
Krivak was 77.
When he finally became a college head coach at age 51, Krivak said: "This is my shot. I'm either going to retire out of this job or get fired."
Krivak, who had previously worked as an assistant under Jerry Claiborne at Maryland and George Welsh at Navy, lasted five years at the head of the Terps' program.
While his tenure was not very successful — a 20-34-2 record and only one winning season — Krivak took over when the athletic department was still reeling from the death of basketball star Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in June 1986.
"It was very tough time with all that was going at Maryland, but he did a good job," Ross, who left for Georgia Tech in 1987, recalled Wednesday. "Joe was a good football coach, but far more important, he was a great human being."
Ross said Krivak didn't get the recognition he deserved as the play-caller for Maryland teams that won three straight ACC titles from 1983 through 1985.
While many recall the famous 1984 comeback the Terps made from a 31-0 halftime deficit against Miami to win, 42-40, Ross said: "We also scored over 50 points the next two games against Clemson and Virginia."
"We are saddened to learn about the passing of Joe Krivak, " Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said in a statement. "Joe was an accomplished coach who played an instrumental role in one of the most successful periods in the history of Maryland football. He tutored some of the most prolific quarterbacks to play in College Park and helped develop them for future success in the NFL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Krivak family."
Current Maryland coach Randy Edsall tweeted: "Our prayers go out to the Krivak family as Coach lost his battle with Leukemia yesterday."