Joe Krivak
Biographical details
Born(1935-03-20)March 20, 1935
Central City, Pennsylvania
DiedDecember 25, 2012(2012-12-25) (aged 77)
Bowie, Maryland
Alma materSyracuse University
Playing career
Position(s)Offensive lineman, linebacker
Head coaching record
Overall20–34–2 (college)
50–24–2 (high school)

Joseph J. Krivak (March 20, 1935[1] – December 25, 2012) was an American football player and coach. He served as head coach for the Maryland Terrapins football team from 1987 to 1991, where he compiled a 20–34–2 record. He also served as an assistant coach at Maryland, Syracuse, Navy, and Virginia. As a coach at Maryland, Krivak mentored future National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Neil O'Donnell, Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, and Scott Zolak. In all, he coached on seven Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship team staffs and in 14 bowl games as an assistant or head coach.

Playing careerEdit

Krivak earned three football letters playing offensive line and linebacker for the Syracuse Orangemen between 1954 and 1956. He blocked for All-American running back Jim Brown and helped the Orange reach the 1957 Cotton Bowl Classic. He also played third base and earned one letter in baseball for the Orangemen. Krivak earned his degree in history science in 1957 and an M.A. in education from Syracuse in 1961. Syracuse University honored Krivak in 2011 as a letterwinner of distinction at their Hall of Fame.[2]

Coaching careerEdit

High schoolEdit

Krivak's first coaching experience came at Madonna High School in Weirton, West Virginia, where he spent 11 seasons, eight as head coach, and won a state Catholic title.[3]

Assistant coachEdit

He then served as an assistant coach at Syracuse for five years under head coach Ben Schwartzwalder.[4] From 1974 to 1976, he served as an assistant coach at Maryland under head coach Jerry Claiborne.[5] He then spent five years coaching at Navy under George Welsh.[6]

In 1982, he returned to Maryland to join Bobby Ross's staff as the quarterbacks coach.[7] Krivak was also responsible for the wide receivers and had a significant role in running the offense.[4][8] Krivak was the offensive play caller for Maryland's 42–40 win over Miami in the Orange Bowl, where the Terps rallied from a 31–0 halftime deficit. It was a game which stood as the greatest comeback in college football history for twenty-two years.[9] At Maryland, Krivak tutored several future NFL quarterbacks: Boomer Esiason, Neil O'Donnell, Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, and Scott Zolak.[10]


After the 1986 season, he was chosen to be the successor to Ross and promoted to Maryland head coach at the age of 51.[8] (Ross left Maryland for Georgia Tech following the Len Bias tragedy and the university's reactionary hiking of recruiting standards.)[11] Krivak had previously been a finalist for a head coaching position during his tenure at both Syracuse and Navy, and in 1982 when Maryland hired Ross.[4] As head coach, Krivak accumulated a 20–34–2 record and one minor bowl game appearance, the 1991 Independence Bowl, in which Maryland tied Louisiana Tech, 34–34.[5] One of Krivak's most notable accomplishments at Maryland was a tie game. In 1989, Maryland tied Penn State, 13–13, with a last-minute field goal.[12] When the game was last played in 1993, the all-time series record stood at 35 Maryland losses, one win, and one tie.[5] The tie game broke the Terrapins' 24-game losing streak against Penn State.[13] Krivak's signature win however, was the 1990 upset road win against #8 and Sugar Bowl bound Virginia. Following the 1990 season, new athletic director Andy Geiger and Krivak agreed to a five-year contract extension.[14]

Krivak tendered his resignation after posting a 2–9 record during an injury riddled 1991 campaign. After the season, athletic director Andy Geiger had initiated a review of the program, which included interviews with the players, some of whom directly criticized Krivak to Geiger. With his resignation, Krivak cited a loss of credibility in the face of the criticism from his players.[15][16]

Return to assistant coachingEdit

In 1993, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Bobby Ross, then head coach of the San Diego Chargers was interested in hiring Krivak after his dismissal, but was dissuaded by general manager Bobby Beathard, who wanted someone with NFL coaching experience.[17] In 1995, Krivak took over as quarterbacks coach for Virginia under George Welsh, his former boss at Navy.[18] In 1996, Virginia offensive coordinator Tom O'Brien left to take the head coaching position at Boston College, and during the Carquest Bowl, Krivak called the offensive plays in the interim. Virginia lost to Miami, 31–21. Some observers expected Krivak to be promoted to the position full-time, but in February 1997, Welsh said he was considering calling plays himself without an offensive coordinator. Krivak resigned from the staff shortly afterward.[1] Krivak then ran football camps for youth players in the Mid-Atlantic area.


Krivak died at the age of 77 on Christmas Day 2012 in Bowie, Maryland after a long battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and leukemia.

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Maryland Terrapins (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1987–1991)
1987 Maryland 4–7 3–3 5th
1988 Maryland 5–6 4–3 T–4th
1989 Maryland 3–7–1 2–5 6th
1990 Maryland 6–5–1 4–3 4th T Independence
1991 Maryland 2–9 2–5 6th
Maryland: 20–34–2 15–19
Total: 20–34–2
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. 1.0 1.1 FOUR ASSISTANTS JOIN CAVS' FOOTBALL TEAM, The Newport News Daily Press, March 27, 1997.
  2. "Celebrate SU LetterWinners of Distinction - Cuse". Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  3. "Archived copy".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Patient Krivak Finally Gets His Chance, The Freelance Star, December 11, 1986.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Assistant Coaches, 2007 Terrapin Football Record Book, University of Maryland, 2007.
  6. Md., Navy Start Over With Krivak, Uzelac Series: FOOTBALL '87, The Washington Post, September 8, 1987.
  7. Terps name 3, Wilmington Morning Star, January 28, 1982.
  8. 8.0 8.1 SPORTS PEOPLE; Maryland Picks Krivak, The New York Times, December 11, 1986.
  9. "Archived copy".
  10. Watching his pupils, The Daily Gazette, January 9, 1993.
  11. " Bias's Death Still Resonates". Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  12. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SOUTH; Maryland Kick Ties Penn State, The New York Times, November 12, 1989.
  13. Penn State vs Maryland, 1961-1989, Stassen Football, retrieved May 31, 2010.
  14. "Times Changing for Krivak; Optimism Abounds as Terrapins Land National Recruits". 31 January 1991. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  15. Krivak Resigns as Maryland Football Coach; Says Credibility Hurt by Remarks, The Washington Post, December 7, 1991.
  16. Terrapins are slow to learn firing Krivak sends wrong signal, The Free Lance-Star, December 11, 1991.
  17. STAYING CLOSE TO FLORIDA STATE WILL TEST UNC, BROWN SAYS, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, September 27, 1993.
  18. Krivak Joins Coaching Staff At Virginia; Ex-Maryland Boss Will Guide Cavs' QBs, The Washington Post, 17 February 1995.
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