NCAA

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

uspw_6767118.jpg

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.

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

Hypocrisy of NCAA loud and clear with Maryland Football promotion

The NCAA is a dumb and monumentally stupid organization with rules that often don't make sense for the student-athletes they govern. One of those is paying, or more specifically not paying, athletes.

In an incredible twist of irony, Maryland will give one lucky regular student (that isn't an athlete) $10,000 for something an athlete (not a regular student) could potentially perform on the football field.

This is a highly specific play that will have to happen in order for one lucky student (again, not an athlete) to win the money, but the hypocrisy is incredible and this entire situation is so backward.

A student-athlete could score a touchdown (while not being paid) for the university and while scoring said touchdown will be helping make money for the university (money they will never see a dime from). The university will then turn around and give money to a student who did nothing to earn it, except decide to stay around in the second half for a game that is expected to be lightly attended, thanks to the achievement of a student-athlete who is incapable of receiving said money. 

That makes sense. Totally.

This comes on the heels of a report earlier this week that Division 1 coaches were "spooked" and against new rules that would allow students who met a minimum GPA to transfer and have immediate eligibility.

This is all totally fine.

Anyway, I can't believe someone didn't see the irony here and think "eh, we just had one of the biggest upsets of the weekend and should have a better way to capitalize on our momentum with something cool to entice people to stick around against Towson?"

I guess not.

MORE MARYLAND: TERPS KICKOFF YEAR WITH TEXAS-SIZED UPSET

 

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

usatsi_10259331_141983962_lowres.jpg
USA Today Sports

Virginia Tech beats West Virginia 31-24 in electric showdown at FedEx Field

LANDOVER, Maryland -- Virginia Tech made FedEx Field feel like Lane Stadium Northeast and got to bring that Black Diamond Trophy back to Blacksburg for the first time in more than a decade.

Oh, and the Hokies' new quarterback looks like a keeper, too.

Josh Jackson passed for 235 yards, ran for 101 and accounted for two touchdowns in his first start for Virginia Tech, and the No. 21 Hokies made a last-second stand to beat No. 22 West Virginia 31-24 on Sunday night.

The 52nd meeting between the Appalachian region rivals was the first since 2005. It ended up being a classic. The Hokies rushed the field after their defense held the Mountaineers out of the end zone on two last plays from the 15, and their fans screamed along to Metallica's "Enter Sandman" to celebrate.

"This was a fantastic win," Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds said with a huge grin.

Jackson, the redshirt freshman who won a three-way competition for the job, was up and down with his passing, but showed off some nifty moves running in the opener for both teams.

"I felt calm," said Jackson, the son of former longtime Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson.

Josh Jackson's 46-yard keeper up the middle -- which ended with him taking a hard low hit -- set up Travon McMillian's 3-yard touchdown run that put Virginia Tech up 31-24 with 6:30 left.

"I felt that one pretty good," Jackson said about the hit.

Jackson said he read a blitz on that play and the Mountaineers gave him all kinds of room inside.

"That was a bad, bad call by me," West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said.

West Virginia's new quarterback was just as impressive. Florida transfer Will Grier, who left Gainesville after being suspended by the NCAA for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs in 2015, pass for 371 yards and three touchdowns.

He got one more chance to tie after usually reliable Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 1:55 left.

Grier slinged and scrambled West Virginia down to the Virginia Tech 15. Hokies coach Justin Fuente used a timeout before the last two plays because he was worried his defense was getting gassed chasing the shaggy-haired quarterback.

"You just want them to hold on for one more," Fuente said.

Grier's second-to-last pass into the end zone under pressure was a little behind David Sills and it went through the falling receiver's arms.

"I thought I had him," Grier said. "I got hit and I couldn't see. I thought he caught it. That's the one I'd like to have back to get it up more for him."

It was a tough ball to catch, but Sills wasn't hearing that.

"I just got to make that play," he said. "That's really all it comes down to."

Grier's last throw sailed high and away, but a couple of penalties on the West Virginia offensive line made it moot.