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

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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.

What They're Saying: Reactions to Jaguars drafting Terps' Ngakoue

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What They're Saying: Reactions to Jaguars drafting Terps' Ngakoue

With the 69th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Maryland pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. He was the second Maryland player taken on Friday night, along with defensive back Sean Davis to the Steelers, and for the Jaguars was the third straight defensive player selected.

Pair Ngakoue with first-round DB Jalen Ramsey from Florida State and possible second-round steal Myles Jack, and Jacksonville has already put together a formidable draft class.

What are people saying nationally about the Ngakoue pick? Take a look below.

Mike DiRocco, ESPN.com:

"The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Ngakoue is a scheme fit who will start off as a designated pass-rusher. He needs improvement against the run and has to work on keeping his weight up. Still, he’s an upgrade at the position."

BigCatCountry.com, SBNation:

"As for fitting with the Jaguars, they seemed to be set on finding somebody who is more of a situational pass rusher than they are finding a true every-down LEO. Their interest in Ngakoue makes sense in the regard that he can step in and be able to contribute right away."

John Oehser, Jaguars.com:

"The Jaguars addressed the edge late Friday. They did because they needed to, but more than that, they did it because the right player was available at the right time."

Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com:

Shane Davis, Cover32.com:

"Ngakoue will contribute as a pass-rusher immediately, playing mostly the LEO position and coming in on third downs. General manager Dave Caldwell raved about Ngakoue’s first step quickness in his press conference with the media on Friday night."

Mike Kaye, First Coast News:

"He decided leave Maryland early and the Jaguars jumped at the chance to add him. [GM Dave] Caldwell said he considered taking Ngakoue as early as the second round, but again, stayed patient and reaped the benefits."

Analyst gives Steelers 'A+' grade for drafting Maryland's Davis

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Analyst gives Steelers 'A+' grade for drafting Maryland's Davis

Maryland defensive back Sean Davis was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 58 overall pick in thte 2016 NFL Draft on Friday night. Among those reacting to the selection was CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who grades each pick as the draft progress.

Safe to say Prisco was a fan.

"Love this pick. Love this kid," he would go on to write in a post later. "The Steelers get a safety with range who can cover and tackle. Secondary is fixed."

Davis, in talking to CSN on Friday night, said that he was surprised to a certain extent that Pittsburgh would select him after the Steelers took defensive back Artie Burns from Miami in the first round. 

But Burns can in at corner and Davis can slot in at safety, so the fit is there. 

"I kind of thought it was over. I didn't expect them to pick me up. I guess they're trying to do something special back there," he said with a smile. "It's crazy."

Davis had a relationship with the team prior to the draft, though. He spoke with representatives at both the NFL Combine and the Senior Bowl. 

Had he not been taken where he was taken, it was unlikely that he would have slipped much more. The New England Patriots sat at picks 60 and 61 and had long been intrigued by Davis. 

New England would end up taking Alabama defensive back Cyrus Jones at 60 and trading pick No. 61.

A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler

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A call, an embrace, and tears: Terps' Davis is a Steeler

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends and family of Sean Davis gathered, packed in some places nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, in a Northeast D.C. restaurant on Friday night. Televisions were tuned to the NFL Draft. There was music. There was food, conversation and laughter.

But Davis was in a separate room, much quieter, with his agent and his high school coach. He had retreated there to cool off and calm his emotions after putting forth a sense of composure while greeting as many family members as possible earlier in the night -- though inside, his nerves were taking hold.

Of course, there were the questions from those friends and family. Where was he going? Where did he think he was going? How was he feeling?

In this room, there was none of that. He just sat and watched.

The Washington Redskins, the team Davis has loved since his childhood, took hybrid linebacker Su’a Cravens out of USC with the No. 53 overall pick.

Then, as he held his cell phone in his hand in that room, it happened.

“I felt it vibrate and I looked down and see the 412 number and know that’s Pittsburgh and I was like, ‘Is this like a telemarketer or something? It’s the wrong time to be calling,” Davis recalled to CSN on Friday night with a radiant smile. “I answered and it was Coach [Mike] Tomlin.”

Tomlin told Davis that the Steelers intended to select him with the No. 58 overall pick. He welcomed the former Terrapin to the team. As Davis recalls, there was probably very little he said in the way of a coherent sentence – overcome by the moment and grasping for words that felt like they came out peppered with stutters and stammers.

This from a guy who speaks three languages.

Word of the Steelers selecting Davis had been announced to the crowd in the restaurant, but the pick had yet to air on television and Davis had not yet emerged from the room in which he had been sitting.

Anticipation built until Davis walked through the door leading into the restaurant. The crowd erupted and he was met by his brother Isaiah, a linebacker on Maryland’s football team, with a powerful hug. The two embraced and the newest Steeler buried his head into his brother’s shoulder as tears began to stream down his face.

His father and mother joined in before Isaiah yelled out to the crowd.

“We made it, baby!”

And now, a chance to contribute to a team that is routinely a playoff contender.

“When I took my visit out there, I could just tell everyone was about their business and everyone’s goal was getting that Lombardi Trophy again,” the former Terrapin Davis said.

“I’m very happy to wear that black and yellow now.”