The Washington Times - December 16, 2008, 11:14AM

There’s a lull in the action this week, and while we can’t go all Lindsey Nelson and intone “After an exchange of punts,” it is possible to dip into the mailbag for a diversion from the nothingness of the early portion of the week.

That’s where loyal reader Slatter comes in, with the perfect question for a really slow stretch on the calendar – if only I can come up with a good answer.

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You’ve been around Terp Nation for a while. Maryland fans are some of the more creative sign-makers and chanters I’ve come across (in my totally unbiased opinion, of course). What are some of your favorite signs you’ve seen throughout the years?

My definition of a really good sign is one I mosey into the stands to collect after the game, assuming someone wasn’t smart enough to keep it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve done that once since 2005, and even then it was more to set up a joke down the road – a well-received joke, as it turned out. I’m pretty sure it would not be very well-received if I mentioned what those signs were, so this will be the one time out of 10 the little tact button in my brain functions properly and helps me avoid a headache.

The sign that always pops to mind was the Virginia student who came up with “Gone in 54 Seconds” a few days after Maryland’s meltdown against Duke in January 2001. It was so memorable that I’ve called that Duke loss the “Gone in 54 Seconds Game” ever since. The remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds,” of course, was released about six or seven months before that game at old U-Hall.

For the true art of signmaking, it’s best to hit a Big Five game at the Palestra involving Penn. There’s sure to be something clever unfurled before the night is out.

As for Maryland, there’s really only two categories of signs – Duke, and non-Duke. The non-Duke stuff can be clever (and anything involving Bambale Osby ranks high on my list) but it’s clear the heavyweight signmakers are out in full force when Coach K and company arrive in town.

While I can appreciate the time and effort required to create a large sign reading “[Expletive] Duke!” it does not take a rapier wit to come up with that sort of poster. But whoever it was that decided to make a ton of copies of a picture of Jon Scheyer’s contorted face while he tried to make a shot – thus setting off the “Scheyer Face” craze – deserves an immense amount of credit.

It’s legitimately odd looking, it took an immense group effort to disseminate the pictures, and it’s gotten laughs from pretty much everyone, both locally and in the Triangle. That’s the formula for a good sign, and it might be the high-water mark for Maryland fans over the last few seasons.

Patrick Stevens