The new excitement in Maryland football had actually started with something Dull—Dick Dull, 37, an attorney who took over as Maryland's athletic director in the summer of 1981. In December, when Jerry Claiborne, who had led the Terps to nine straight winning seasons with his conservative offensive philosophy, left for Kentucky, Dull announced, "Defense is a must, but a wide-open offense transcends defense. Winning is important, but the bills must be paid. I want a coach who can put people in the stands."
Dull hired Ross, 45, who, in turn, signed on seven assistants with master's degrees to teach his complex system. By the end of the summer Ross had not only a wide-open offense but a locker room lounge and $50,000 in new Nautilus equipment. Meanwhile, Dull replaced Rodney Dangerfield, the school's sports pitchman, with Susan Anton, who in new Terp TV spots closes her eyes and coos things like "I have a passion for all things new. Join me." Passion, get it?
Anton would have shut her eyes for a different reason during Saturday's third quarter, when the Terps fumbled twice, Esiason threw an interception at Clem-son's goal line and the Tigers increased their lead to 21-7 on Fullback Kevin Mack's one-yard touchdown run. A 16-yard field goal made it 24-7 early in the fourth quarter before the 6'4" Esiason took charge and passed Clemson dizzy. He directed touchdown drives of 79 and 71 yards in a span of 4:08, finishing the first with a 37-yard TD strike to Wide Receiver Greg Hill and letting the 5'10", 214-pound Badanjek barrel across for both the second touchdown and a two-point conversion. "Ricky's like a bowling ball rolling around that corner," says Esiason. Indeed, on 55 carries this season Badanjek has scored nine TDs.
Then Hatcher's four-yard punt seemingly set the table for a Terrapin victory. But on second down after the punt, the Terps were called for holding and the ball was pushed back to the 30, out of field-goal range. On the third snap, Esiason threw. He hit Tight End John Tice with a screen pass in the left flat and watched Clemson's All-America free safety, Terry Kinard, drive into him. Tice, a 6'6" senior, was having a Kellen Winslow game; the reception was his 11th of the day, a school record, and even a fourth-quarter concussion had failed to slow him. Kinard, however, punched the ball out of his hands, and Tiger Cornerback Reggie Pleasant fell on it.
The Terps got one more shot from their own 40 when Clemson was forced to punt. However, Hill dropped a 20-yard pass at the Tiger 40, and then Esiason overthrew Wide Receiver Mike Lewis at the Clemson 45. On third down, with :32 left, Esiason lofted another pass. "I floated it over the linebacker," he said. "But I also floated it over the receiver. I knew as soon as I let it go that I wanted it back." Tiger Safety Billy Davis intercepted, and the game was over.
Clemson still must play non-conference rival South Carolina next week and then Wake Forest. The latter game will be neither in Clemson nor Winston-Salem but in Tokyo, the annual affair known as the Mirage Bowl. If the expected NCAA sanctions are leveled against Clemson, the name will take on a new depth of meaning for the Tigers.