The Military Bowl it is
So the unexpectedly expected happened Sunday afternoon when it was announced that the Terps had accepted their invitation to the Military Bowl to face off against East Carolina. What an unfortunate ending to an exhilarating comeback season for the Terrapin football team. After fighting their way to one of the most significant turnarounds in college football this year and being ranked third in the ACC, the Terps are relegated to the bowl that was eighth in the pecking order for ACC teams.
Like Coach Friedgen, my disappointment isn’t with the Military Bowl itself; I’m sure it puts on a fine production and will be a successful bowl game for years to come. Instead, my disappointment is for the Terps student-athletes, who deserved way better than to have to stay home on their holiday. Sure the Inner Harbor is a cool place, but there’s zippy chance I spend my winter break there. This is definitely frustrating as a Terps fan, which I’m sure is two-fold for the team.
I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible, being a part of the Terps fan base. The top bowl games the ACC is a part of all reportedly had reservations about how well Terrapin Nation would travel, and it’s hard to blame them. Maryland struggled seriously all season long to fill up Byrd Stadium, despite it being the fourth smallest stadium in the ACC when it comes to estimated capacity. While it is tough to support a team fresh off of a 2-10 season (especially when it’s early home games are against the likes of Morgan State, Florida International, Duke and Wake Forest), it’s still a disappointing turnout for a remarkable season at Byrd. I know that I’ll use this as a lesson for future seasons to always support my team regardless of previous years, as I only made it out to two games all year long. This team deserved better from us.
I said earlier that the disappointment isn’t a direct reflection of the Military Bowl, and I meant it. Like Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said, “It will give our student-athletes, coaches and fans a chance to participate in something larger than football.” That’s because the Military Bowl helps to pay respect to all that serve this great nation and donates a sizable portion of the proceeds to the USO. Anytime you get a chance to support and honor the troops, as Maryland has done in the past as a part of the Wounded Warrior Project, it’s an immense honor.
The location could also prove to be a bonus in recruiting as a sizable number of the top remaining recruits that Maryland is targeting are located in or around the D.C. area, including top athletes Darius Jennings and Blake Countess. It will give them an extra opportunity to watch Maryland play in person and see how much this fan base loves this team. I know I’m grasping a little bit, but work with me here. I’m trying to stay positive. Maryland reportedly would’ve lost money on any bowl other than the Military Bowl, which will help to offset the difference in the lack of ticket sales at Byrd this season. Hopefully that money will be put to good use for Terps football, whether in recruiting or stadium upgrades or whatever Coach Friedgen’s heart desires (maybe a contract extension?).
So instead of hanging your heads and having a “woe is me” mind-set, let’s take an “us against the world” attitude. Let’s look at the positives and show up to support our team at RFK. Let’s give a reason for recruits to want to come to College Park and give a reason for our own athletes such as Torrey Smith and Kenny Tate to want to stick around. Perhaps most importantly, let’s give a reason for every bowl committee in the future to never overlook Terrapin Nation again. As I said earlier, this team deserved a lot better after the terrific season it had, so let’s make sure we show them our appreciation and pack RFK one last time.
| December 6, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
Categories: Rick Nelligan, Terps | Tags: Rick Nelligan, Terps
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