Bye, bye Maryland
So the Maryland tucked its proverbial tail between its legs and decided to head out west.
My question: does anyone care?
For those of you who tuned in late, the University of Maryland decided to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference, a league they co-founded in 1953 to take the money offered to them by the Big Ten.
A day later they were followed by the University of New Jersey, better known as Rutgers, who will leave the Big East to join the same conference.
I’ve discussed this for the past few days and I’ve found one person that has any concern whatsoever that Maryland is taking its ball and bat and going home. That person is a fellow Bertie High School graduate who calls Silver Spring, Maryland home.
The reason? Maryland is irrelevant. They are in football, they are in basketball and they are in most other sports. The only outstanding coach they have left is Brenda Frese, the women’s basketball coach.
The main reason the Terrapins are irrelevant is because of bone-headed decisions made by those in leadership. They fired the ACC Coach of the Year in football (Ralph Friedgen) and they watched as longtime men’s basketball coach Gary Williams let his team slip into obscurity.
Anyone who thinks the Terrapins are anything less than awful in those two sports should take a long, hard look at the facts. Maryland is obscure, even in a league (the ACC) that is less than stellar in football. It’s once proud men’s basketball program finished 6-10 in the league a year ago and 17-15 overall.
So the Terrapins have slipped into financial difficulty and cut sports to keep afloat. Then came the Big Ten and, reportedly, a significant amount of money to help bail them out of that hole.
There was a day and time that, as a Duke fan, I obsessed over Maryland. I hated the Terrapins more than the Tarheels of North Carolina and that is saying something. Now? I could care less. It’s just another victory for my beloved Blue Devils.
Good riddance. I just hope that every coach in the ACC stomps the Terps during their final days in the league. (Ok, I still hate them a little from back in the day.)
Looking forward, there has been a lot of focus on Connecticut and Louisville as the ACC, we assume, looks to replace Maryland. There have been a few discussions about South Florida and Cincinnati as well, but we can only hope they are cruel jokes.
I have said continually the first call from ACC Commissioner John Swofford should go to the University of Kentucky or the University of Tennessee. Maybe neither would consider leaving the Southeastern Conference, but it would certainly be worth a phone call to find out.
Assuming the two say no, I’d like to see the league reach out to Louisville because the Kentucky market could be a nice fit for the conference. I’m not a huge fan of the Cardinal program, but I believe they are a reputable athletic department and could be beneficial to the ACC.
I would even be okay with adding both Louisville and Connecticut or Kentucky and Tennessee or some combination thereof if they were interested in joining the conference. I don’t care about the fact the league would be 16 in every sport but football.
Obviously, I don’t really want South Carolina back, but that would be okay if the league went in that direction. I also would be okay with Georgia, but that would never happen.
In the end, I think it’s more fun to figure out who the new member or members will be than trying to figure out how long it will take Maryland to be competitive in the Big Ten.
Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 332-7211.