I’ve been an ACC guy all along, since the days of Bias, Boomer, Ross and Lefty. I was at Maryland in dark times in the late 80s and early 90s. I still speak out in favor of the ACC. I root FOR Duke and Carolina in non-conference games and through the NCAA tournament. I check the each football team’s results throughout the day on Saturdays in hopes that the conference makes a strong showing. I welcomed the prospect of the men’s lacrosse team not only having to take on UNC, Duke and Virginia each season, but adding Syracuse to that conference schedule as well.
With that all said, I look FORWARD to moving to the Big 10 in July of 2014. And I am pretty pissed about all the grief the school and the Big 10 have received in both local and national media the last few days.
It kind of reminds me of the Browns announcing a move to Baltimore in 1995. While in Cleveland in the fall in ’95, I personally heard whispers of the possible move. I laughed it off at the time. And a month later, Art Modell was standing on a platform outside of Camden Yards making it official.
I heard rumors of a Maryland move to the Big 10 back in the spring of this year. I kind of laughed them off too. It seemed unthinkable at first. But when you started to hear arguments for it, a move started making a lot of sense. I’m not saying President Loh is full of it when he says talks started about three weeks ago, just like Mayor White in Cleveland may not have been blowing smoke when he acted blind-sided by the Browns move. However, I DO think that there was A LOT of discussion going on in both cases before the issues ever ended up on the desks of those two men.
Look, I understand that people are resistant to change and there is a lot to be said for the tradition of, and loyalty to, the ACC. But only time will really tell if this move was the right thing to do. No one can adequately judge this move now. And the people who put the most time, effort and research into to the decision are the people who, by definition, were the most qualified to make it.
This was a business based decision undoubtedly. Most decisions any of us make, whether at work or at home, are business decisions…for our companies or for our families. And there are emotional ties that factor into them. Little Johnny (or Jenny) wants to play club lacrosse? Well, they love lacrosse…but it costs X. Wife wants a new kitchen? Yeah, it’d be nice but it costs Y. Good job opens in Boise. Yeah that’s great, but its IDAHO! I want to drink good beer but it costs over 20 bucks a case so I stick with Natural Light. And so Maryland would like to play ACC ball but the other, more stable, high profile conference will pay it more to play with them. It seems odd to criticize the school for making an informed business decision.
Maryland tried to be the good soldier. Many thought the school was always treated as the unwanted Northerner in the Good Old Boy Club of the ACC but it tried to provide an expansive (and expensive) athletic experience to the students on campus. Maryland fielded 27 varsity teams over the recent years. The banner read on UMTerps.com for a long time “27 SPORTS, 1 TEAM.” Compare that to other schools in the ACC. FSU has 18. Virginia 23. Duke has 19. In the SEC where football rules, Arkansas has 17, Auburn 19, Vanderbilt 15 and South Carolina 18. Maryland cut to 19 facing a budget deficit. They found a way out of that hole. A way out that could have them sporting some of those cut teams back on the field.
Was it worth severing the ties with ACC? I bet at least some of the athletes would say yes, if not most. Do you think the football program is worried about going to the Big 10? They could be but Indiana survives there. Edsall, if he is around long enough, should benefit with increased funding and exposure. The lacrosse teams can almost assuredly lock up some games with some of the old conference rivalries. The biggest rivalry on the men’s side is with Hopkins anyway. That game isn’t going anywhere. And with Maryland Lacrosse in the Big 10, they have a unique opportunity to help grow the game in the Midwest where Ohio State and Penn St have made inroads in the sport and Michigan just joined the D-I ranks last season. Michigan State is close to D-I status. On the women’s side, Maryland and Northwestern, two of the top teams in the sport, will now be conference foes.
That leaves us with Maryland Basketball. It’s the only true casualty in my opinion. They lose two long-time rivals (that actually consider Maryland a secondary rival). But the conference RPI after last season had the Big 10 at top. Not the ACC. The Big 10 has three of the top four teams in the AP poll this week. All three are ahead of Duke and North Carolina.
So open up your minds and embrace the change. We can all learn to hate anew. Want a reason to hate Penn State? Drive up 83 and take inventory of the damage your car suffers when you reach the New York state line. Need a reason to hate Iowa? They dress like Steelers. How about Wisconsin? Brett Favre. There you go, three new rivalries. Need more? Give it time. Everyone seems to hate Maryland already because of Under Armour and the uniforms. Of course, they all have Under Armour on at the gym.