The Turtle In Our Midst - Maryland Q&A

Scott Cunningham

So...expansion is here. Time to get to know the first of the new guys.

Happy Black Friday everyone! I can't see the Gophers game, so I'm currently watching Nebraska bumble around against Iowa. I also wanted to take this time to introduce you to the newest member of our B1G family, the Maryland Terrapins. To help us get a better feel for our new conference brethren, I reached out to the fine folks at Testudo Times. 2 members of their staff, Dave and Pete, were kind enough to do a Q&A with me about their feelings on the realignment and to help us get to know the Terps a little better.

The Daily Gopher: Welcome to the Big Ten Maryland! Or to the B1G, as we typically call it on the interwebs. Unless Delaney is feeling frisky. Then we might be the Big 16 by Christmas. How does it feel to leave the ACC and join our stoic, Midwestern club?

Pete: It's...really weird. I understand that it's a good thing for Maryland, but the idea that we're in the same conference as Iowa and Nebraska is something completely foreign. Playing against Duke and UNC and consistently beating up Virginia was in our comfort zone, and this will take some getting used to.

That being said, I hear you guys play something called "football" in this conference? I am interested to hear the rules of this game.

Dave: Good and bad. Sorry to leave the ACC, but happy to be out of the All Carolina Conference. I loved the ACC before the BC, Miami, Va. Tech days, when you played each school twice in basketball. So leaving the ACC isn't too hard because the ACC I loved died long ago. I am happy to have the chance to play in an awesome football conference and hopefully have money to actually invest in football & other sports.

TDG: What were your thoughts when you first heard the rumors?

Pete: Disbelief. I'm not even counting the mild rumors we heard last year, but it was just hard to believe. Then, all of the sudden, everything picks up and moves so quickly and here we are.

Moving past that, I had a very negative reaction at first. Like I said in the first question, the ACC was a comfortable place for Maryland, and we have a lot of history there. It makes sense that a lot of fans have reacted poorly to the move.

Dave: Honestly, I didn't think much of them initially. The source reporting it at first was a facebook group, but to their credit, they were right. Then a much more prominent site got wind before the national media picked up on it. At first, I really didn't want to leave. But I finally realized it was too good of an option to pass up, that the ACC might die anyway, and that if you're invited to a seat at the table, you have to take it at this point, unless you want to be left out in the cold

TDG: What do you think the big benefits are for Maryland? The biggest downsides?

Pete: Money, money and money. Academics too, but mostly money. Maryland's athletic department is broke, and we famously had to cut seven sports last year due to budget troubles. The A.D. and prez said they'll "try" to bring those sports back (that's about as likely a scenario as Maryland going to the Rose Bowl in 2014), but the reality is it's a huge difference in cash influx as well as stability.

The downside is tradition, as Maryland now has no true rivals. Virginia, Duke and North Carolina made up the crux of teams Terp fans truly hated, and now it's Rutgers and Penn State I guess? To be fair, Duke and Carolina didn't care about us anyway, so maybe now we'll have the Nittany Lions not care about us either!

Dave: Financially, this is huge for Maryland. Their athletic department is not in very good financial shape and if you're just looking at it from the outside, you might think it was because of poor fan support. In reality, it's mainly the result of the former athletic director, who allowed 27 teams to exist when it wasn't sustainable, went through with an expensive renovation and addition of luxury suites to our stadium, and spent down the financial reserve for the department. Then she used fuzzy math to balance the budget. The end result has been a department that spent one of the lowest amounts per athlete of any school in the ACC and has been unable to update facilities, etc. By joining the B1G, that will all change almost instantaneously.

On the downside, when you're part of a conference for so long, you lose some of the things that make college sports great. Not playing Duke in basketball will be hard, as well as some of the other ACC teams, but unfortunately rivalries and traditions don't pay the bills.

TDG: What excites you the most about the move as a fan? What will you miss the most about the ACC?

Pete: As a fan, it's most certainly the big-time football (and the big-time money that comes with it). I love watching B1G football and to see my team crushed by those teams on a regular basis will be an honor.

I will certainly miss the basketball tradition. That being said, I hear there's some sort of program in Bloomington.

Dave: A few things. Staying in an awesome basketball conference is great, because Maryland is first and foremost a basketball school. It's also exciting to play some of the most historic football programs in the country. On the downside, losing those awesome rivalry games is going to hurt.

TDG: How do you feel about coming into the B1G with Rutgers? Do you wish that you were bringing anyone from the ACC with you? If expansion continues do you want it to happen with other ACC teams?

Pete: I am decidedly meh about Rutgers. I would have much preferred UVA, but that wouldn't make nearly as much sense for the conference. The Scarlet Knights win football games in the Big East, but that won't transfer over very easily. If anything, I'm just happy there's another team we can beat up on in basketball.

Dave: It's good to have a fellow east coast school joining with us. It would be nice if a few ACC schools came along, like UVA and maybe UNC, but I would be sad if that resulted in the dissolving of the ACC.

TDG: What B1G campuses are you the most excited to visit?

Pete: Really all of them. But Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the first to come to mind. (You too, Minnesota. After those three).

Dave: I've been to Michigan and seen a game in the Big House, so I'd love to see Maryland playing there. Same thing with the Horseshoe at Ohio State. I'd actually really like to see Minnesota's new stadium. Seems like a pretty cool venue.

TDG: Any B1G teams you come in hating? If no, who do you think you'll hate the quickest?

Pete: I don't like Michigan or Ohio State football, so I guess we'll start there. Not a big fan of Nebraska either, and I mostly pity the rest (looking at you, Iowa). (ED NOTE: Don't worry Pete, you'll hate Iowa soon enough.)

Dave: Oh how I hate Ohio State. Michigan has always ben my 2nd favorite school, since a few of my close friends went there, so I've never liked OSU. I'd also say most Maryland fans have a strong dislike for Penn State, just because they've owned us over the years.

TDG: I'll admit, as a Minnesota fan my knowledge of Maryland is rather limited. What are you favorite things about being a Terps fan? What do you think Minnesota and B1G fans will appreciate most about having you in the conference?

Pete: The basketball games are the only redeeming part. The atmosphere, the wins, the team - it's fantastic. I think we will add a continued balance to the conference that secures it as the top football/basketball conference in the country, with your Ohio States and Michigans on the football side and us and Indiana playing hoops.

Dave: Maryland basketball. With Mark Turgeon taking over for Gary Williams, they're back on the rise to yearly prominence. You also get to enjoy the Under Armour uniform craze. Maryland fans also have a reputation for being passionate and obnoxious, so that's something else to look forward to.

TDG: I'm a road trip addict. Let's assume the Gophers head to College Park early in your B1G tenure for football. What do Gopher fans have to look forward to?

Pete: Vitriol, unfortunately. Some of our fans are notably hostile, and the others are merely passionate. We also don't have many bars. As a B1G school, that must be fixed.

But seriously, it's a very nice campus with (mostly) nice people and great facilities. It's a fantastic basketball environment with a football team that we're working on.

Dave: College Park is only a few miles from the D.C. line, so you'd get the chance to make an easy trip to the Nation's capital. It's also only about 45 minutes from Baltimore and about 30 minutes from Maryland's capital, Annapolis, home of the Naval Academy. All awesome places to check out.

TDG: So...Randy Edsall. As Gophers fans are aware by now, he spurned us only to end up at Maryland (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU). Do you think he'll be around in a few years for us to thank him in person?

Pete: No, I honestly do not. I think Edsall will get one more year, and with yet another troubling season almost saved by Stefon Diggs, he'll have to go. He has to make a bowl game next year, in my opinion, no matter what. There's too much at stake (and too many new expectations with the new conference coming in) for him to stay.

Dave: I think so. I really think Edsall is here at least through next season, although if Maryland misses a bowl game next year, even if they're again decimated by injury, he might not be around.

I actually don't mind Edsall too much. He's gotten a lot better from last season, and I think he has them on the right track. Maryland's issue this year was really injuries. We're going to lead the 120 D1 schools in games lost by starters to injury for the 2nd year in a row. We're starting a linebacker at quarterback. If we didn't have to resort to that, I think they would have at least been a bowl team this season. If they can stay healthy, they should be a very good team next year, especially on offense, when they'll have a fantastic receiving corps. So in the end, I think the talent is there for Maryland to do well in the coming years, Coupled with an uptake a recruiting, which will likely only be helped by the B1G move, and I think Edsall will be okay.

Thanks to Pete and Dave for taking the time to answer my questions. Go Terps!

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