Ever since the story broke I’ve been trying to conjure up reasons as to why Maryland shouldn’t leave the ACC — legitimate reasons. I came up with exactly zero. One big bagel. The brimming reason most Maryland fans did not want to join the B1G was the tradition it shared with the ACC. It has plenty of history being one of the conference’s charter members, but its history is just that.
History, like Greivis Vasquez’s senior night in 2010 when the Terps upset Duke and claimed a share of the ACC regular season championship. Like his triple-double performance against North Carolina in 2009. Like the football team’s upset of Boston College in 2007 that began the demise of Matt Ryan’s Heisman run. The upsets of Florida State in 2006 and 2004. Maryland’s 2004 ACC Tournament championship where it beat Duke. The 2002 basketball national championship where the Terps beat new B1G conference foe Indiana. Or, the 2001 football game against Clemson where Maryland won the ACC Championship and a barrage of oranges blanketed the field. Yes, there is plenty more Maryland-ACC history, but none so exuberant that it should prevent the Terps from doing what is best for the school.
With the recent admittance of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and, as of September, Notre Dame to the ACC, that history died. Maryland would only get a chance to play Duke or North Carolina at home every two years. Maryland got paired with Pittsburgh and Virginia in basketball as its “natural rivals.” Speaking of rivalries, ask any Duke or North Carolina fan if they consider Maryland a rival. I bet they don’t because they have each other. Fact is, Maryland doesn’t have a true in-conference rival. Duke and North Carolina are fun teams to beat, but the Terps haven’t beaten them much as of late. The rivalries in football are non-existent.
West Virginia is likely Maryland’s top football rival. Some may consider Virginia, but are the Hoos the team Maryland fans dislike the most? I doubt it. It’s a harsh reality, but Maryland simply doesn’t have one true rival. It just has teams it gets greater joy out of beating. I find it difficult to believe teams in the ACC circle Maryland as their game of the year, which is to be expected when both the basketball and football teams have had some down years as of late. But for Maryland supporters spewing their opinions about how much tradition and history mean to the school, why aren’t these people showing up for games? The Terps have an exciting hoops team that will surely make some noise this year. In the home opener, a little over 8,000 fans showed up. Football attendance has been down right embarrassing. I’ve been going to games at Byrd Stadium since I was 12 and it used to be packed full of raucous fans. The student section barely fills up anymore. When it does, most of them clear out by halftime. Clearly, playing top ACC teams in College Park isn’t packing Byrd or Comcast, hosting games against the upper echelon of the B1G hopefully will.
Maryland and the ACC have had a six-decade relationship that was ruined when the ACC decided to expand. People want to scoff at the Maryland administrators for making this change solely based on money. If the naysayers want to point the finger at someone, point it at NC State Athletic Director and former Maryland AD Debbie Yow. Her more-than-questionable spending tactics during her time at the helm of Terrapin athletics set them up for a financial disaster. One that forced current Maryland AD Kevin Anderson to cut eight varsity sports last year. So, yeah, the move was spawned by money, but it’s a move the Terps needed to make.
How stable is the ACC? Not very, I’d venture to guess. For the ACC to slap a $50 million exit fee on schools who want to leave the conference, it must not have a lot of confidence in itself. That move screams insecurity. And it’s a move Maryland President Wallach Loh voted against when it was presented to the ACC schools in September. Loh was very spirited in yesterday’s presser announcing Maryland’s conference jump. You could tell he believed it was the right move — maybe the only move — to make. He said he has the best interest of the university in mind and I believe him.
Maryland’s move won’t become official until July 1, 2014, but the B1G will start pumping money into the school soon. And it stands to make $100 million more by 2020 from joining the B1G. It was the right move and a smart one. The Terps had a chance to get out of the Carolina lovefest that is the ACC and set themselves up for stability in the future and took it.
I don’t blame Maryland for making the change. Why not join the nation’s richest conference that has its own network and a lucrative TV deal that pays schools handsomely? Change is never easy. Maryland fans should always cherish the memories it created in the ACC, but they should also be excited about this move. It will only help Maryland in the long run. If you’re more concerned with history and tradition, that’s OK, but the past won’t help Maryland’s future. The ACC won’t help Maryland. The B1G already is.