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Posted at 8:31 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

The Military Bowl it is

By Rick Nelligan

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.

By Rick Nelligan  | December 6, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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I remember Maryland obliterating its ticket obiligation to the Orange Bowl in 2002 and taking over 30,000 fans to Miami (after only being given some 25,000 tickets).

Yet later that year, the Gator Bowl snubbed Maryland in favor of, ironically enough, N.C. State for the 2003 Gator Bowl saying "Maryland doesn't travel well."

It doesn't matter if Maryland sells 50 tickets or 50,000 to this game. Maryland is saddled with this reputation and nothing is going to change it.

Personally, I hope RFK is about as empty on December 29th as it was a for a Washington Freedom game. There's no need for a Bowl game in Washington, D.C. and if having a local team in the game doesn't generate any interest, the sponsors are going to withdraw and the Bowl will die.

And then Maryland will at least get to travel more than 10 miles when they are bowl eligible.

Posted by: CapsNut | December 6, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Wow - what a bunch of spoiled crybabies!! You don't fill up your stadium - then you whine when you don't get to go somewhere sunny for a bowl game. An “us against the world” attitude? East Carolina wrote the book. We've had years where we had the best record in the state of North Carolina (against teams like Virginia Tech and Miami) and watched UNC & NCSU go to bowl games with lesser records against lesser opponents. I like Ralph Friedgen, but I hope the Pirates run all over Maryland. I hope the stands are purple on gameday. Thanks for the 'bulletin board' material. Coach Ruff should make good use of it.

Posted by: PirateNation | December 6, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"Thanks for the 'bulletin board' material. Coach Ruff should make good use of it."

What 'bulletin board' material? No one from MD said anything about ECU you idiot.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"I only made it out to two games all year long. This team deserved better from us." -Rick Nelligan

Rick, I'd like to take this opportunity to raise my middle finger in your direction. It's fairweather fans like you that cost us a trip to Orlando. MD doesn't need fans like you, we need fans that will support the team through thick and thin. You admit that you didn't go to many games this year because we were 2-10 last year. That is pathetic dude. I'm guessing you went to homecoming and to the FSU game. Am I right? Pathetic.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 6, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I usually don't like to comment on my own posts, and have yet to do so thus far until now. But what "Barno1" said did strike a chord with me and I felt I needed to say something.

First off barno, you're right, it's unfortunate that I was unable to go to many games this year. I did go to the games against Navy, Morgan State, FSU, and NC State, so I miss spoke when I said two games at Byrd, it was three at Byrd and then the Navy game. I was unable to go to the Duke and Wake Forest games due to other obligations, but always made sure to either watch them during or after the game.

I assure you that I'm nowhere near a "fair-weather" fan, and I routinely lose my voice any given Saturday or basketball game I go to, regardless of opponent. I went to every game of the 2-10 season and hurt for every minute of it. I love this team and school as much as anyone, and always will whether we are in the Orange Bowl or toilet bowl. And I invite anyone and everyone in Terps Nation to come and support with me, I'll provide the food and beverages at the tailgate.

But like I said, you are correct in that it is because of fans like myself as to why we aren't in the Champs Sports Bowl, even though it seems as if we wouldn't have made it anyways for whatever reason. And I do regret it, and appologize for my lack of attendance this season. But in no way am I a "fair weather" fan, and will make sure that I am front and center from now on.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | December 6, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

As for the ECU fan from the second post, Barno had it right again. What bulletin board material are you talking about? I mentioned ECU once and it was just to say who we were matched up against. If ECU needs to see me saying that I'm dissapointed we are in the Military Bowl to get fired up, then you guys have another thing coming on the 29th. Hopefully Maryland fans use what you said to pack RFK. Can't wait to see you guys there.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | December 6, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

It is fantastic time to refinance home mortgage. As Clark Howard says it is very tough to find these low rates for long time. Search online for "123 Mortgage Refinance" they found me THE lowest possible rate.

Posted by: lindamckee | December 7, 2010 4:40 AM | Report abuse

...Rick, your "us against the world" mentality comment is laughable, from a school in a BCS conference...the ACC done you wrong?...hey, if you think you'll get a better deal somewhere else, then bolt...surely there are many non-BCS schools who would love to take your place...if I was a coach, I'd make damn sure that my players read all about how disappointed Maryland is...the 'haves' complaining about how bad they have it, is always good bulletin board material for the 'have-nots'... contrast, ECU fans are delighted that they can set out for DC at 5 and be tailgating by 11...there should be quite a few there - and lots of our men and women of the armed forces, as well - with tickets donated by the Pirate faithful...

...Rick - have the Maryland fans PACKED Byrd Stadium this year?...any reason to think they will 'pack' RFK, given the tenor of the majority of commentary by Maryland fans on other forums?...are any Maryland fans actually happy about this bowl invitation?...

Posted by: PirateNation | December 7, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

gnelligan1 - I'm glad that you piped up. I generally agree with Barno, though not vocally, because he is dedicated to local sports - as am I.
I personally can understand the reason students don't support a team as well when they spent making a 2-10 year. It just wasn't entertaining. However, as the year progressed, there was more support.

PirateNation - wha? MD fans have no problem with the ACC. They have a problem with a third ranked team dropping to the 8th slot bowl game. Really you can't understand that? Seriously?

Posted by: bentoenail | December 7, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason to play this game. I wish the Terps would not have accepted. Its a lose lose situation for the Terps. Maryland needs to leave the ACC.

Posted by: NoPartyAffiliate | December 8, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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