- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Maryland’s third straight bowl season might cost the Terrapins some of their coaching staff.

Army is expected to interview offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe for its head coaching job, and running backs coach Bill O’Brien recently met with Central Florida about its opening for a top man.

Taaffe confirmed yesterday that he was approached twice in past weeks by Army screening committee members. No interview is scheduled — pending Army’s season-ending game against Navy on Saturday — and Taaffe said he would be interested in returning to the U.S. Military Academy, where he was an assistant from 1981 to 1986.

“I have an interest in it,” Taaffe said. “I’m not looking to leave here. I’m happy here, but if an opportunity comes, then I’d look at it. It can’t be just anywhere. It has to be a very good situation.”

Army is on course for its first 0-13 season and has lost 14 straight. Coach Todd Berry was fired Oct.13 after a 5-35 mark in four seasons. Interim coach John Mumford is 0-6.

Maryland’s resurgence has made Taaffe a popular candidate. Duke also requested permission to interview him, though no meeting occurred. Taaffe is currently preparing for Maryland’s game against West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Jan.1.

“You win 30 games in three years [at Maryland] and people take a look at what you’re doing,” Taaffe said. “It’s possible to have a successful program at Army. You just have to mold your program around that environment.”

Taaffe has coached 31 seasons, including the top job with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes from 1999 to 2000, before coming to Maryland in 2001. Taaffe also led The Citadel from 1987 to 1996 and was Division I-AA Coach of the Year in 1992.

Army athletic director Rick Greenspan could not be reached for comment, but Mumford conceded that Navy may be his final game.

“It is tough not to think about it,” he said, “but I have found the best way to not think about it is to immerse the staff into our preparation for the game. We are going to coach our tails off and go from there.”

O’Brien couldn’t be reached for comment, but sources close to the search said he’s among three finalists at Central Florida. Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George O’Leary is the front-runner, with Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik and O’Brien as serious options.

O’Brien, who came to Maryland last season after seven years at Georgia Tech, was Ralph Friedgen’s successor as the Yellow Jackets’ offensive coordinator when Friedgen became Maryland’s coach in 2001.

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