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Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer


Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer

In the end it was a no-brainer.

When the University of Maryland Board of Regents voted overwhelmingly Monday morning to accept the official invitation to join the Big Ten conference, there were plenty of opinions. Most of the naysayers were traditionalists that pointed to 60 years of tradition as a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and traditional rivalry games with Duke and North Carolina on the basketball court.

The other side had plenty of ammo as well.

To begin with, a change in conference would mean a migration to schools of a similar kind – large state schools with impressive academic credentials. They also pointed to the fact that alignment with the league would lead to the improvement of the Maryland football team to the point where it can compete in the Big Ten. The basketball programs – already Big Ten ready- would have a made for TV home schedule with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana that would lead to great rivalries in short order.

Oh, yeah, there was also money involved. Actually it wasn’t just money... it was serious, serious cash.

If it were only about the expected increase in television revenues from the ACC to the Big Ten (approximately $8-10 million per year) then the University President Dr. Wallace Loh and the board may have thought twice about pulling this trigger.

Then add to that millions and millions of dollars the school will receive as part of a consortium arrangement with Big Ten schools to share federal research dollars. It’s the kind of money that will insure the stability of both the university and the athletic department.

Maryland officials must have felt like they had just hit the Powerball.

If you’re on the Board of Regents – whose primary job is to oversee the operations and fiscal well-being of the University system – and you ended up voting against this then you probably would have some explaining to do.

I’m like a lot of Maryland sports fans and I can get wistful over memories of great Terrapin plays and games. One of the things I love most about Maryland fans is the way they mark the times of their lives around seminal Terp games (e.g. “my daughter was born the day after Steve Blake stole the ball from J. Williams just before halftime at Cole Field House).

I get that. And I get the angst around the move. For many fans the relationship with the ACC amounted to a first love or romance.

The problem is that the ACC that we all knew and loved changed irrevocably in 2003 with the addition of Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami. The move was done solely for football purposes and completely changed the way the ACC schedule worked on the basketball side of things. Gone was the simply perfect model of playing every team home and away each year. Because of the numbers, the league had little choice but to introduce an unbalanced schedule that eliminated most home and homes.

With Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame all joining the ACC in the coming years those “rivalry” games would be fewer and further between. Maryland, for instance, could only count on seeing Duke and North Carolina at the Comcast Center every two years.

So much for romance.

Dr. Loh and Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson inherited a fiscal albatross from their predecessors that they could never have foreseen. That they have acted so quickly and so forcefully to secure the financial future of both the university and the athletic department is laudable and they deserve credit.

Loh was particularly forceful during the press conference and spoke passionately about the University’s financial status, the pain of having to cut several sports in the past year to trim costs in the athletic department and, most importantly, about his vision for the school. At one point he said his job was to chart the future and not be overwhelmed by it.

You would be hard-pressed to find a lot of University presidents with a similar kind of courage.

At one point a student reporter at the press conference asked why the process had not been conducted in a more open, public forum. The answer to that, of course, is that an open forum would lead to a complete paralysis of the process. The Board had been tasked to study this kind of opportunity with diligence and the future of the University in mind and acted accordingly.

Progress can be uncomfortable some times and institutions like a large public university can be particularly change averse. Ultimately the opportunities for real progress rarely come in such a compelling and obvious package as the one that was presented to the Board of Regents.

They were right to take it and the University will be far better for it in the long run.

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Maryland handles Michigan State 28-17

Maryland handles Michigan State 28-17

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Perry Hills threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return to the lineup and Maryland kept Michigan State winless in the Big Ten with 28-17 victory Saturday night.

Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) also extended the Spartans' losing streak to five games, the longest skid under 10-year coach Mark Dantonio.

Ty Johnson led Maryland's dominant running attack with 115 yards on nine carries, while Lorenzo Harrison finished with 105 yards on 17 carries. The Terrapins amassed 447 total yards .

Michigan State redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke got his second consecutive start and went 11 for 24 with 156 yards with an interception. He also ran for 79 yards on 10 carries. LJ Scott had a big day on the ground for the Spartans finishing with 128 yards and a touchdown.

The Spartans (2-5, 0-4) took their first lead, 17-14 on a 34-yard field goal by Michael Geiger with 1:35 left in the third quarter. Johnson continued to find a holes and a 44-yard run put Maryland into Michigan State territory. Two plays later, the Terrapins retook the lead on a 2-yard run by Kenneth Goins Jr.

Hills put the game away with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Levern Jacobs with 3:23 left in the game. Hills was 21 of 27 for 200 yards.

Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough was ejected with 4:39 left in the first quarter for targeting. That penalty helped Maryland extend a season-long 96-yard scoring drive, capped by Harrison's 8-yard run.


Michigan State: The Spartans face an uphill battle for a 10th straight bowl appearance with the toughest part of the their schedule still ahead. Michigan State must still play No. 3 Michigan next week and No. 2 Ohio State (Nov. 19).

Maryland: After a 4-0 start, the Terrapins gained some much-needed momentum to avoid missing a bowl game for the second consecutive season. However, Maryland plays three ranked opponents (Michigan, Ohio State and No. 8 Nebraska) over its final five games.


Michigan State hosts No. 3 Michigan (7-0, 4-0) next Saturday. The Spartans stunned Michigan 27-23 last season when safety Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up a flubbed punt and ran 38 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the final play of the game.

Maryland travels to Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers (3-4, 1-3) beat the Terrapins 47-28 last season and lead the all-time series 3-1.

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Maryland cornerback Will Likely out for the season

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Maryland cornerback Will Likely out for the season

Will Likely, Maryland's star cornerback and punt returner, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the second quarter of last week's game against Minnesota. The team announced Friday that Likely will miss the rest of the season.

The injury does not mean the end of Likely's role in Maryland football. Head Coach DJ Durkin said in a press release, "In the short time I've been here at Maryland, I understand and have a great appreciation for the significant impact Will Likely has had on our football program. He will continue to play a vital role in our program as we lean on him for his leadership and experience. I am confident Will has the work ethic, drive and focus to overcome this injury and continue his football career at the next level."

Likely is third in the country in combined kick return yards with 1197, and owns six different Maryland records. He leads the team in with three passes defended, and three pass break ups. Likely was named an FWAA First Team All-American in 2015, and First Team All-Big Ten two seasons in a row. A torn ACL means the end of the senior's career as a Terrapin.

Sophomore RaVon Davis or Freshman Elijah Daniels can be expected to fill in for Likely at corner, while sophomore D.J. Moore or senior Teldrick are projected to take over as returners.

The Terps play Michigan State on Saturday in College Park. Durkin has not yet decided the status of quarterback Perry Hills, who sat out the last game with an injured shoulder.