Maryland Terrapin Football—Embracing the Mid-Major Way

Jarrett CarterAnalyst ISeptember 21, 2009

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Davin Meggett #8 of the Maryland Terrapins runs with the ball during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley Twittered this last Saturday after the Maryland Terrapins lost to Middle Tennessee State, 32-31:

@jamisonhensley As a Univ. of Md. grad, it’s embarrassing to lose to Mid Tenn once. To do it twice is just sad. Jeer The Turtle.

There is a sad truth that is football at the University of Maryland, a truth being realized by fans, alumni and college football experts alike that doesn’t bode well for the future development of the entire program.

The Maryland Terrapins are a really good mid-major football program.  They recruit mid-major talent, they market like a mid-major program, and soon, other mid-major programs will feel very comfortable taking guaranteed payouts—and wins—from them.

At home, there’s no way Maryland should’ve lost again to Middle Tennesee State.  Even if the execution wasn’t there, or the coaching staff was ill prepared, you would think Maryland would have enough talent to overcome the deficiencies.  Or at least, enough swag to sway the refs to have calls going there way in Byrd Stadium.

But they don’t.  The state of Maryland isn’t a football factory by a long shot, but the Terps should be much farther along in stocking talent on the strength of its BCS affiliation.  Maryland football can regularly send a tight end or a linebacker to the NFL, but rarely do these recruits translate to dominance in the ACC.

Or success against select mid-majors.

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And the football program doesn’t seek to market otherwise.  "Fear The Turtle" may work to hype up a Comcast Center full of drunken College Park students against Duke, but it provides little more than a lone triangle in the crashing orchestra of ACC football tradition. 

Miami, Florida State, even Georgia Tech; each shines over the Terrapins in drawing attention from the college football world, and from the players who relish it.  Even in lean, down seasons, there is enough history to buoy their programs and stave off choppy media waters.

Maryland?  Most of the reporters working in the area graduated from CP, and even they have grown weary of the underachievement.  They feel no allegiance to the constant rebuilding effort, no sympathy for the way Penn State and other regional programs siphon off the small talent sample born and raised in the Free State.

Is it tough to acknowledge that the biggest, most well-resourced football program in the state is little more than a world-class mid-major?  Probably.  It was just a few years ago that the Terrapins were positioning themselves for ACC championships and bowl appearances.  But the truth can set us all free when it comes to Maryland football; expect mediocrity and celebrate when they play up to and above higher competition.

It can save you major headaches down the road.