Maryland is undergoing a coaching search, but they will be looking for far more than a coach. Given the sad state of the university’s finances, the lack of enthusiasm for this football team throughout the state, and the unsold luxury boxes on Byrd Stadium, it stands to reason that Athletic Director Kevin Anderson will be looking at creating a splash as much as hiring a quality coach. 8 wins a year can be enough to get a state to rally around its football team- as long as the team has something extra worth getting excited about. Mike Leach has seemed to be the obvious man to get those boxes sold and put Maryland football back on the state-wide (if not national) map. But in a state mad about its sports and utterly devoid of in-state competition, why does Maryland struggle so much to get attention in the first place?
It wasn’t until I left Maryland for Michigan that I realized that college sports didn’t have to play second fiddle to professional sports. Granted, I was in Ann Arbor, the Mecca of Midwest college football, but it made me wonder why Maryland, with its at least respectable football record of the last 10 years, didn’t garner much hype. Was it the lack of a true rivalry? That certainly hasn’t helped. Maryland has had secondary (or even tertiary) rivalries with Virginia, UNC, and Duke, the latter two in basketball and the first in football. But Virginia isn’t exactly a powerhouse itself on the gridiron, and pillow fights don’t generally get the fan base worked up.
Is it the location? Growing up I always thought of Maryland as a DC school, being placed rather oddly away from the center of the state, the heart of Maryland. That said, it was only ever an hour away from Baltimore, and shouldn’t serve as a reason for people not to be able to visit. As the flagships state institution, there should be some pull by their alumni to come visit at least on occasion.
Maybe the sport? Maryland has always been a basketball school first and foremost, and has no problem filling the Comcast Center for an ACC game. Football lacks the same tradition for the Terrapins, in much the same way typical football schools struggle to get interest in a mediocre basketball program. This would be fine, if basketball made nearly the revenue that a football program did. In 2009 Kentucky football, as average a football team as they come, still made more money than the vaunted Kentucky basketball program. There is a reason schools are putting their money into football- that’s where the return on investment is.
Anderson’s job is as much financial as it is about putting a winner on the field- though that can’t hurt the former goal. So why hasn’t Maryland football (or Maryland athletics as a whole) captured the hearts and minds of Marylanders? It’s not an easy question to answer. Kevin Anderson is hoping a little buzz- and some wins- will go a long way towards turning that around.
I still believe that college football thrives in the Midwest where the density of pro teams is less concentrated. I hear you on Michigan, but face it, the Lions haven't been relevant in decades. Kentucky draws because outside of the Derby, what else is there to do? Iowa? I'm not even sure where that is on the map. Boise is suddenly a hot college football town. Are you getting my drift? Who do New Yorkers like in college football? Boston? Philly?
I agree with you brother. The entertainment options on the east coast are too many therefore college football is an after thought. My question is why did the University build a new facility that holds thousands more then they were drawing in patrons if they were losing money? Thank goodness for Garyland and Terps basketball- they are always a powerhouse team and their recruitment- well it speaks for itself??! Seriously Garyland does pack the house during the ACC games.
MGW, your lack of geography skills does not surprise me coming from someone of your background and education level. The reason NCAA football isn’t important here is because UM hasn’t been relevant in two or more decades. If UM had a solid football program, you chuckleheads would be fans. Why are people into NCAA basketball here? Why is that sport relevant? Ask people from Florida why they think NCAA football is an exciting sport. Florida can back its NCAA football teams yet still have three NFL teams in the state. I think your indifference to the sport shows your lack of knowledge.
If the UM football program is losing money its because they are putting an inferior product on the field. Why is collegiate basketball considered significant whereas football isn't other than UM has stunk for decades. What's the difference in attendance of UM basketball games and, oh yea, Baltimore doesn't have an NBA team. Its college football that brings in the revenues that allow truely insignificant programs like lacrosse and field hockey able to have a program. NCAA football is the cornerstone of all collegiate sports because of the amount of money it brings to the table. NCAA basketball doesn't come close to bringing in the revenues football brings. The problem with you clowns is if your team sucks, you find the sport insignificant, if they are good, your a fan. Shows how shallow you are. BTW how have the O's done in the last twelve to thirteen years? Want to talk about insignificant.
well football is definitely popular with the Skins and Ravens so I am not sure why it doesn't translate down to the college level. As a Richmonder, I know there are a lot of Virginia Tech grads here and they are in full force and support the Hokies. Even the smaller schools do a good job supporting their teams, Richmond, William & Mary, James Madison so it is curious why Byrd Stadium doesn't sell well. I don't know if winning will cure all ills.
Winning will cure 99% of the ills. One real problem is there are two NFL teams in the immediate area to draw away from the fan base. Most people have a finite amount of money so they would prefer to spend their hard earned dollars on an NFL franchise. There isn't much the university can do about geography but they can win at a more consistent basis and try to draw in more people and corporate sponsors. As expatriate stated above, bringing in someone like Mike Leach might be the spark the program needs but he did leave his last position on bad terms so there are possible consquences to a hire like Leach. Let's hope they find the right person for the job and win a couple ACC
Pole, that's really what I was saying in my post. Too many teams in the I 95 corridor.
Got to agree with the Polester about the insignificant Orioles… And also how Baltimore fans are fickle unlike the Mid-West fans who are diehard no matter what.
The problem is the inferior schedule and current product on the field. You can't schedule Florida International and Morgan State and expect everyone to show up. UMD doesn't schedule top non conference opponents because they haven't been good enough to win the 6 bowl eligible games in the so called tough ACC. This year they have a down year in the ACC allowing the terps to win 8 games. Navy sold out at the beginning of the year so if you put out a schedule with good rivalries or opponents people will come. The Fridge hasn't recruited well enough to garner enough excitement for the program. People want a team that year in and year out can at least have a chance to win against VT, FSU, Miami, CU, etc..home or away. We haven't had that.
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