The Washington Times - February 7, 2009, 09:36AM

To a reporter, there are sure signs something is about to happen. Key decision-makers congregate. People don’t return phone calls (for good reason, it should be said). Things just feel tense.

But it’s funny how sometimes our presence can be a clue, too.

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There are a couple places for reporters to work on campus. One is the media room in Comcast Center, but that only makes sense if you’re on that side of the school. Another is the student union, which has places to work and access to food, but can get rather rowdy.

Another place is the lobby of the football team house. It’s obviously the sort of place you can get shooed away from at certain times, but is a sensible locale at other moments. For example, it’s a good place to wait out the end of practice, and it is also a functional place to get some work done before a press conference, especially if you sit at the far end away from the entrance most people use.

That’s where I set up around 1:45 p.m. yesterday. It was reasonably quiet, so it offered the chance to conduct a telephone interview. It also was a chance to say hello to some players as they rolled in for meetings.

Turns out, most of them didn’t know anything was going on. I asked a couple guys I’ve gotten to know better if they’d heard the news about James Franklin being named the head coach in waiting and passed it along.

For some others, a reporter perched in the lobby was a clue in and of itself.

“I saw you up there, and thought ‘What’s he doing there? We don’t have anything going on,’” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “So I go downstairs and looked up on TV and said ‘Wow.’”

Quarterback Chris Turner found out even earlier. Linebacker Alex Wujciak mentioned an overnight report during the Terps’ Friday morning workout, but quickly forgot about it after running during the session.

That speaks volumes as well. This decision had been coming for the last 14 months. It certainly seemed like Franklin could be the next coach when he returned to Maryland in December 2007, and the sense around the team was that possibility might eventually come to fruition.

There were plenty of hints it could occur. The presence of a bunch of administrators and a reporter hunched over in the team house lobby just happened to be the last ones.

Patrick Stevens