As Maryland football prepares for a crucial homecoming game and a celebration of the 2001 Terps team that won the ACC championship, the whole pairing seems ironic to coach Mike Locksley.
Locksley played a large role in the creation of that squad, serving as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator from 1998-2002 under two different head coaches.
He came into the program alongside Ron Vanderlinden in 1997 and stayed on when Maryland hired Ralph Friedgen just before the historic 2001 season.
And Locksley couldn’t help but evoke something one of his predecessors said to the eventual conference champions.
“One thing that stood out to me when that coaching search took place, for a guy that I call a great mentor, coach Friedgen,” Locksley said. “One of the first things he said, and it’s kind of become a mantra of mine, that coach Friedgen said to the team was, ‘I’m not going to teach you how to win, I’m going to teach you how not to lose — how not to beat yourself.’”
Locksley finds himself in a similar situation.
On the heels of an ugly 34-16 loss to Minnesota where the Terps were their own worst enemy, Locksley and Maryland hope to use homecoming weekend to reestablish themselves in the mold of that 2001 team.
“It’s a big weekend over here,” quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa said. “The biggest thing is just for us to continue to get back on track and win this game this Saturday.”
The juxtaposition didn’t stop at a mantra in Locksley’s eyes.
He harkened back to the 1999 season, where after winning two and three games in his first two years with the Terps, they opened up their campaign 5-2. It was a flying start behind Calvin McCall and LaMont Jordan. But it was not to be.
Maryland lost its final four games.
Two years later, the Terps raised a conference trophy for the first time in 16 years.
Locksley, now in his third season at the helm of Maryland, is following quite the comparable script.
“Having watched what happened in that transition from the 2000 team that Ron Vanderlinden created to Ralph Friedgen coming in and taking it over and teaching them how not to lose, and that’s where I kind of find myself with this team,” Locksley said.
With three straight losses haunting over the Terps after a 4-0 start, Locksley has stressed the importance of getting his team to the point where it isn’t fighting itself in addition to their opponent along the line of scrimmage.
A visit from some Maryland alumnus might be the thing to start pushing the Terps in the right direction.
“It means a lot knowing that those guys still support [us], knowing they still want to be there and support the younger Terps,” defensive back Tarheeb Still said.
Locksley has devoted much of his tenure to bringing back former Maryland players and rebuilding connections within the Terps’ decorated lineage.
Maryland will honor the entire 2001 team along with the 20th anniversary of Friedgen winning the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year award and former linebacker E.J. Henderson’s recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
The 2021 Terps, meanwhile, will be focused on regrouping from their losing streak.
And with a similarly-depleted Indiana on the way, Maryland looks keen to protect its home field and do it with the eyes of some of the Terps’ best watching them.
“For us, we’re the show, and it’s our job to, as I always say, go out and put a product on the field that these people coming back here to campus can be proud of,” Locksley said. “I expect us to do that.”