- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

The 19th-ranked Maryland Terrapins are riding a seven-game winning streak toward another New Year's bowl date.
But the Terps' most important accomplishment could be the way they have changed attitudes on the College Park campus. Players used to be ridiculed. They would overhear negative remarks while walking around College Park if anyone was talking about the football team at all.
"They just said, 'Yep, there they go again they choked again,'" said senior punter Brooks Barnard, recalling the campus atmosphere two years ago, when Maryland finished 5-6 and out of bowl contention once again.
"I used to wear Maryland gear and no one looked at me." Barnard continued. "Now people know when you walk into a room. People stare at me. Those people who said we [stunk] are saying, 'You're doing well. You're the man.' A lot of people like football now around here."
The Terps (8-2, 4-1 ACC) can clinch back-to-back nine-victory seasons for the first time since 1985 and can match their longest winning streak since 1978 with a victory at Clemson (6-4, 4-3) tomorrow night.
Maryland also can snap a notorious streak in Death Valley, where it has lost eight straight dating to 1985. The Terps are positioned to earn a bid for the Jan.1 Gator Bowl, where they could get a rematch with season-opening opponent Notre Dame.
The change on campus is directly linked to the arrival of coach Ralph Friedgen. Maryland had only two winning seasons (both 6-5) in the previous 15. Football had become an unpleasant and sparsely attended diversion before basketball season when Friedgen returned to his alma mater after Ron Vanderlinden was fired. His first Maryland team finished 10-1 before losing to Florida in the Orange Bowl last January.
"It was like, 'Let's get Garyland going,'" said Barnard, referring to the students' name for their cheering section at basketball games. "Now it's like, 'What bowl are we going to?' They are making bowl plans."
Durrand Roundtree knew things were different when a teacher who he didn't even think knew him singled him out and congratulated him in front of a criminal justice class. The senior defensive end had grown used to the negative stigma associated with the team.
"We didn't have any respect," said Roundtree, who remembers keeping to himself and being embarrassed by his team's failures. "I was shocked at the way we were treated. They all said we were thugs. Everybody thought we didn't work hard and were given special treatment. You would have your Maryland sweats on and walk around campus and nobody would say anything. Nobody knew any of the players. We were just in our own world. Now when I go to class, I get handshakes from people I don't know. People say they saw me on TV and wish us luck and say 'Congrats.'"
Friedgen was surprised by the overall apathy toward football when he returned to his school.
"My perception of this place is when I was here in the '80s," said Friedgen, who remembers the successful teams coached by Bobby Ross as a source of university pride. "The thing that immediately hit me in the face was our low expectation level. I remember talking to alumni groups or Terrapin [booster] clubs. Their attitude was 'wait and see.' That was a little frustrating. Because I don't think you can succeed unless you dream, or at least think you have a chance to achieve."
Friedgen's greatest challenge was restoring a sense of hope and worth in a program full of self-doubts. The Terps started in that direction when they beat North Carolina in the coach's debut on their way to opening the 2001 season with a 7-0 record. Oddly, perhaps the most uplifting moment came on the basketball court.
A day after Maryland pulled off a stunning victory at Georgia Tech last season, the team was in the stands of Cole Field House for the start of basketball practice.
"Many told me in private that when they walked into Midnight Madness for the basketball team and got a standing ovation that it was emotional for them," Friedgen said. "They had restored the respect and pride of their fellow students."
The football team has risen from ridicule to become a major selling point for the university. Basketball coach Gary Williams always has brought perspective recruits to Byrd Stadium for a football game as a way to show off the campus and college life. But he was quick to monitor their stays for fear they might get a bad impression of the school.
"We had to make sure we got them out of there before fans started to boo," Williams said. "Sometimes that was at halftime. Now you bring a recruit to a game and it's a great environment."


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