I know I need to let this go. At some point railing against an issue that is already settled just makes you look like a psycho, and as the surrounding voices of discontent one by one give way to the acceptance, I look around and see I’m the only one still yelling. And I don’t want to be the crazy guy. But I am a little disappointed in the attitude of some of my fellow alumni. When the announcement was made there was universal angst, but quickly “You don’t erase 60 years of tradition” became “It’s a business, what are you going to do?”. I guess I’m not so accepting of selling tradition.
As corny as it sounds there are reasons we have traditions. Life is hard, and as stressful as it is now, think back to the middle ages. Traditions provide comfort. As we grow old our world changes, people we love die or move on, bigger problems arise, but through all of that traditions came into being because they provided stability in an ever changing world. And it’s a shame those comforts can now be bundled up and sold. So I’m bummed. And after having two weeks for this to settle in, I have narrowed down my distain into several points (Woodrow Wilson had his points of light, these are my points of darkness).
The decision to cut ties was made for money. There are 11 other ACC schools that did not go broke. If the ACC was such a money suck, then why was Louisville only too happy to jump in our still warm seat? Don’t they realize they will go broke too? Of course not, that is a Maryland issue, not a Conference issue. Look, Ralph Friedgen was fired because he did not put enough butts in the seats, so who was brought in? Randy Edsall, a decision that was greeted by more head scratching and second guessing than applause. Hell I get death threats from my own friends when I try to defend the guy. This not only didn’t fill Byrd, it emptied it further. The only thing barring the program from a complete collapse is the recruiting effort of Mike Locksley.
Who hired Edsall? The same two making this decision to leave the ACC, is this who you trust? The hiring of Mark Turgeon even wasn’t 100% smooth, and the job of being the head coach of a school like Maryland sells itself. You want money, you want to stabilize the Athletic Department, put a product on the field that gets people exciting, don’t cash out the last chip we had. I can understand making a poor hire, but to fire the ACC Coach of the Year in order to make that poor hire, just highlights what disconnect there is.
I know people are going to say Debbie Yow did this, it is her fault. I know all things evil trace their way back to her office, but let’s not forget people, we did not fire Debbie Yow, she left. If she really did that poorly of a job, no one in Maryland said a word about it (Ok, Gary and Ralph did, but they are gone too)…and again, these are the people making this decision.
The decision was made mostly by one man, behind closed doors. I have no problem with where I am on the scale of important alumni. But the way we left the ACC was so quick, so clandestine, that it brought memories back of when the Colts Bolted for Indianapolis. When you are going to do something unpopular, do it quick so that by the time the suckers realize what is going on, it’s already too late.
As mentioned above, in terms of what I mean to the University, I get that I’m a peon. Hell I’m comfortable with it. My money will be going to my family first, I don’t even know where the Terrapin Club ranks on that list, but as with most people who don’t have money coming out their ears, I’ll never make enough to the point where anyone in the AD gives a crap about what I say. But to feel as though I was totally powerless, that sort of felt like a kick in the pants. I have friends and family all up and down the East Coast. I have relationships with all kinds of people with other ACC schools, to have that all pulled out from under me in 48 hours was tough. This could have been done in a more transparent way, there could have been more debate, as Tom McMillen said “I get more documentation when I buy a cell phone”. Hell, if this was such a no brainer decision, why not tell everyone that beforehand so the now infamous press conference didn’t have to feel like a funeral. Why the secrecy, when I make great decisions that benefit all around me, I want the world to know! Sure there are legal disclosures, but if something is forced to be a secret, how great can it be? If the Big 10 really wants us, they’d take us disclosures or not.
The ACC is dying. Who knows if the ACC is dying, I don’t think it is, not yet. In fact if Notre Dame Football joins, they may be okay. Hell Louisville bring more to the grid iron now days then Maryland does, so maybe Clemson and FSU are happier now. But there are rumblings, and if it does come to fruition that the ACC was no longer sustainable, you can’t say that we got out in time, all you can say is that we either expedited the collapse or created the collapse. And that is what worries me the worst. I loved the ACC, I didn’t want to be the school that killed it. If it feel apart and we joined the Big 10, I would be 100% on board, but to backstab the conference, that will never sit right with me, and my ACC friends may never forgive me for that, and how could I blame them?
Where are the results? When PSU joined the Big 10, they may have gotten more money, but other than perhaps non-revenue sports I never hear about, is the PSU Football Program stronger now than it was in the 80’s? When the Nittnany Lions joined the Big 10, I thought, wow that is going to be great for their basketball team, but has it been? Maybe there are facts I’m not aware of, but I don’t view PSU as better off in Football or Basketball than it was prior to joining the Big 10. By my count they won 1 Big 10 Championship in that last 20 some years for Football. If that is PSU, what are we going to do? The one thing I can promise you is that Kevin Anderson and Wallace Loh will not be able to wait to sell those marquee name schools to an off campus site. We will be lucky to have 5 “true” home games a year in Byrd, and those Saturday afternoon’s (who am I kidding, mornings) mean more to me than any budget for the non-revenue teams.
The whole thing about conference realignment is that people want to be part of some prestigious conference, like Missouri joining the SEC. But what people fail to realize is that being in a strong conference helps recruiting somewhat, but every conference has it’s doormats. And being a doormat trumps being in a strong conference because one of the biggest things that matters to the success of a program is wins. The Penn States, the Ohio States, the Michigan’s of the world, they want to stroll into the DC metro area and kick the living crap out of us so that they can recruit better in our area. That is why they want us. And that unfortunately isn’t a two way street, we are not going to out recruit the Rust Belt for kids who want to play for the Big 10 they grew up watching. This move does not make us better, it is all about money.
So there, I think I’m done. There are a lot of things I want to say, but this is getting pretty lengthy, but to summarize why I’m still upset, to summarize why I feel betrayed I have boiled all of those feeling down into one sentence.
The history of the University of Maryland and it’s connection to the ACC was sold for money by a man who admitted that he wasn’t into sports, came from a Big 10 School, has never lived in Maryland, and will probably be gone within the next 5 years.
And that is what I’ll never get over, and this is why I still feel it’s worth the risk of sounding like a mad man.