Maryland, my Maryland…what are you thinking?
After six decades as one of the pillars in the foundation of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the University of Maryland athletic program is taking its talents and legacy to the B1G (plus four) Conference, beginning with the 2014-2015 athletic season.
Gone are regional rivalries with Virginia and Virginia Tech. They have also said goodbye to the tradition of rivalries with Duke and North Carolina. Terp fans now can now get ready for the scintillating mid-January encounters with Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin and Northwestern in basketball.
Nothing makes you want to purchase basketball season tickets when you’re used to seeing N.C. State in the Comcast Center during mid-February, when they are now replaced by Penn State.
The move—as realignment continues in college sports—is driven by money. Maryland is hemorrhaging right now, having just dropped seven sports because of the financial crisis. Had the football program been BCS or major-bowl eligible over the last decade, this decision would have been moot.
However, now they hope that Ohio State, Michigan and other football fans of America’s most overrated conference will purchase the unused tickets of Terp fans who have been masking themselves as empty seats at Byrd Stadium.
The university wants to create a new financial paradigm that will use athletic funds to help offset the cost of education for non-student athletes on campus. That means the future beatdowns by the Buckeyes and Spartans will help educate kids from Baltimore to Beltsville.
Wasn’t that what the Maryland Lottery and legalized gambling was supposed to do for the state?
Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has shaken up the program on a number of fronts since taking over from Debbie Yow in 2010. Most notably, he told Georgetown he wasn’t going to play them in any sports if they wouldn't commit to meet in basketball in an embarrassing public spectacle.
Anderson fired Ralph Friedgen in 2010 after a 9-4 season, but Randy Edsall hasn’t won eight total games since banning certain hair styles and baseball caps. If the football team is struggling to beat William & Mary, what happens when the Terps host Nebraska in College Park?
He hired Mark Turgeon to replace Gary Williams as leader of the basketball program in the nation’s best conference. You can survive the trade of North Carolina, Duke, and N.C. State by adding Michigan State, Indiana, and Ohio State to the schedule. However, they won’t sell out Comcast Center by replacing Virginia and Virginia Tech with Iowa and Purdue.
Anderson says that the B1G gives Maryland a better chance to compete on the national level than staying in the ACC. They hope to get a boost by getting slammed by elite B1G powerhouses in football and getting a significant footprint for their worldwide TV network.
Nothing will entice recruits and open alumni wallets like embarrassing losses in Lincoln, Ann Arbor or Columbus on national television and worldwide via the internet.
To their credit, Maryland admits this move is all about the money. Tradition means nothing, so it's all about football revenue.
So when do the athletes get theirs?