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Posted at 2:42 PM ET, 12/10/2010

Time to step up, Terrapin Nation

By Rick Nelligan

So you’re mad that Maryland got stiffed in the bowl selection process? You’re mad the third place team in the ACC was relegated to the bowl with the eighth selection among ACC teams? You have every right to be, and I’m just as upset as you are. But I don’t agree with the blogs and comments from fans saying they won’t attend the Military Bowl as some sort of protest against the selection process or that it’s so close to home, or any number of reasons you could pull out of a hat.

While it’s tough not to be upset about being passed over by the Champs Sports Bowl and just about every other bowl known to man, the bowl committees were not exactly wrong. Sure, based on record, Maryland deserved to have bowls knocking down the door with invitations.

But the reality is, as a fan base, we did not support our football team as we should have. This season, we carried a sub-par 72.5% attendance rate at Byrd. For comparisons sake, N.C. State blew us away, averaging a whopping 98.7% attendance rate. I’m sorry, but that’s pitiful. As a bowl official trying to make money, while still putting a quality product on the field, which team would you have selected? As much as it pains me, it’s tough to say the Terps without being biased.

The proximity of bowl game the Terps were selected to play in stinks for the team, but not necessarily the fans. For the team, it has to be deflating. To give everything you have every Saturday in hopes of an ACC Championship and/or warm weather bowl game only to be told you have to spend your vacation at home is rough.

But for fans, this isn’t a bad scenario. Sure, we’re upset that it’s not in warm weather and our program isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. But in the tough economic times that we are in, what’s so wrong with only having to take one day off of work, take the Metro, and spend money only on tickets, food, and maybe a hat and sweatshirt? Sure it will be cold, but 2:30 during the day is more than bearable. If you can’t take off from work, I get that and don’t fault you for it. But if you can, put on a couple layers and support the Terps; they deserve at least that much.

We might not have had the foresight to support our team during the regular season, but we have an opportunity to make up for our regular-season disappearing act. The Terps deserve our support, especially the seniors. They have worked hard and improved by leaps and bounds from last year, besting their 2009 record by six wins so far. This team also features multiple post-season award winners. And it shouldn’t be a bad game, with ECU having one of the top offenses in the country and an equally terrible defense.

If that’s not enough for you, a portion of the money made by the Military Bowl will be donated to the USO. What could be better than supporting the Terps and the troops all at the same time?

Ultimately, what some are failing to realize is that if we don’t want the Terps to be in this position again, we have to change. Maryland will be relegated to bowls on the same level as the Military Bowl year after year unless we start supporting this team. Great programs are built upon a base of great fans, and this area and these fans have limitless potential to be a tremendous fan base. Penn State, Ohio State, Florida and all of the other traditional powerhouse programs have exceptional fan bases that turn out for every home game and bowl game, regardless of opponent or location.

It’s time to put up or shut up Terp fans. I’m not blaming you for being upset, but our fanhood is being questioned people. Every bowl committee associated with an ACC team is calling us out. NC State head coach Tom O’Brien says the reason that N.C. State passed us by was because they “have fans.” The East Carolina fan base is gloating about how RFK is going to be filled with purple. Even Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen and athletic director Kevin Anderson are, essentially begging us to show up.

If you’re okay with having your fanhood questioned, then I’m not sure what to tell you (nothing I can write on the Washington Post anyways.) But I’m not okay with it, and I will be at RFK wearing red, hopefully surrounded by more than 10,000 of my closest friends.

To buy tickets, visit the official Maryland athletics home page. I hope to see you all there.

By Rick Nelligan  | December 10, 2010; 2:42 PM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Military Bowl, Terps  
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Next: The low point


how many seats have you purchased big mouth!!

Posted by: carolina1 | December 10, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing about not travelling well is such a fallacy. In 2006 we had tons of fans at the Champs bowl (I was there).

I bet NC State will actually a poorer turnout that we did in '06.

Let's wait and see....

Posted by: blieberman1 | December 10, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Haha, big mouth? If me asking you to support your team makes me a big mouth, then so be it. I'm not faulting anyone for being upset with the situation, it sucks and I'm as upset as anyone about it. I've reminded myself how important this fan base is as I've been writing these posts just as much as I've been trying to remind Terrapin Nation. For those of you who are already supporting, great, this doesn't apply. But for those of you who have stopped supporting, I ask you to look at the reasons why.

What has this team done to make you not support them this year? The turnaround the Terps have made is one of the better success stories around the nation and they've played hard every Saturday for us.

What has the Military Bowl done to make Terrapin Nation not support it? It's only said from day one that it would relish the oppurtunity to feature the Terps in their bowl game. Be mad at the other bowls, not the Military Bowl though.

Nothing will change unless we make it change. And the way we do that is by supporting now, not after we win the ACC Championship, because without fan support and revenue, that will be pretty hard.

Like I said, if me asking you to support your team makes me a big mouth, then so be it. You can argue with my writing style, I've never claimed to be Shakespeare. But my reasons are right as rain my friend, and I hope you see that by the 29th.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | December 10, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Amen Rick! We need to get the Terrapin Nation website going and to keep fair weather fans off of it.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 10, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I have fully supported the Terps for years and attended every regular season game. I also attended most of the bowl games over the past 10 years. What I don't understand is why everyone believes that a good turnout for this bowl game will mean anything come the next round of bowl game selections next year. Obviously, how well the Terps have traveled in the past meant nothing this time around. What will make the difference is filling Byrd Stadium consistently next year which I will definitely be a part of. As for this year, a nice seat next to my fireplace will do just fine.

Posted by: MDFAN4EVER | December 10, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

The ONLY reason why Maryland fans should attend this game is to support the players. These guys work their tails off and had a great season, but were rewarded with a crappy bowl game, in a cold weather location, at a decrepit stadium. They are the ones who really got jobbed, they should have gone to a better bowl in a warm weather city. There will be other bowl games for the fans, but these guys only get four shots at it. They can never be compensated for what they have lost. I will be there- the players deserved better and the least that I can do is go and cheer for them.

But please, can we stop with this nonsense about needing to prove our fan support? As I posted before, the logic of this does not make sense. Am I suppose to believe that it did not matter that Maryland took 30,000 fans to the Orange Bowl in 2002, 20,000 fans to the Chick-Fil-A and Gator Bowls, and set an attendance record at the Champs Sports Bowl in 2006, but it will matter if Maryland sells their 10,000 seats in the Military Bowl? Please. Eric Prisbell published on his blog that Terp fans do not travel well. Prisbell never cited his source for that claim, but whoever said it was lying. Bowl attendnace prove that it was a lie. Am I suppose to believe that they will be any more truthful next year? I guarantee that, even if the Terps do sell their allotment, next year we will hear that it really didn't impress anyone because the bowl was so close to home.

Finally, in response to your question, I have a lot against the Military Bowl. While I can't prove it, here is what I believed happened: The ACC and the Military Bowl struck a back room deal to ensure Terp participation in the Military Bowl. The bowl was poorly attended the first two years (29,000 and 22,000), plays is an old facility, and has sponsor issues. It needs Maryland in game to ensure its continued existence. The ACC, having already fumbled the Gator Bowl away, did not want to lose another bowl game. Things would have worked out fine for everyone, except the Terps ended up being far more successful than expected and deserved a better bowl bid. That's when the ACC began a smear campaign to prevent one of the higher tiered bowls from selecting the Terps. Like I said, I can't prove it. However, Terrapin Club members were told in November that a deal had been struck and the Terps were not going anywhere else. The press has been openly speculating on Maryland participation since the Navy game. Further, I find it awfully funny that the lie about NC State fans traveling better than Maryland fans was uncritically accepted by this newpaper. Did you guys ever look at the bowl attendance figures? Did you ever find out have many tickets NC State really sold to Bowl last year? No, you didn't.

Posted by: smitch6087 | December 11, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

East Carolina's OOC schedule makes the record look a little deceptive.
We played @VT, @UNC, NCSU, and Navy. No cupcakes there.
Next year we start off with South Carolina(@Charlotte), UNC, VT, and @Navy.
So playing Maryland you can see is just another game for the Pirates.
We will show up to play TO WIN THE GAME.
Our Fans will show up (9,000 TICKETS sold as of today)

Posted by: batemana | December 11, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

You MD writters and affiliates amuse me with your tactics and attempts to boost attendance to this game. In your column you claim that ECU is "gloating a sea of purple".(?) I challenge you to show where that has taken place. ECU fans have consistantly been transparent about the expected attendance for this bowl. There will only be about 10k pirate fans at this game. A far cry from a normal bowl appearance by ECU. After loosing 31 players, we are the youngest D1 team. This was suppose to be our down/rebuilding year where we would win only 2 games. If ECU does somehow outnumber MD, it will confirm to the bowl committies and the nation on just why you were chosen for this bowl. Allthough this 8-4 season has been a banner season for you guys certainly does not entitle you to anything. The truth is you are two creampuff wins from being 6-6. You were third in a down conference were previous bowl attendance history was just about the only leg to stand on. Your marquee win was against ncsu- a team ECU also beat. In part, I agree with the mesage of the article. But what should be said is "God help us if we don't show up because this 6-6 ECU team has a real chance of beating us if we don't".

Posted by: tobmoc | December 11, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Really? ECU a real chance? The same team that allowed Navy to drop 76 points on? That allowed Rice to score 63? Rice scored 63??!!?? Rice scored 63??!!?? Rice is football purgatory!!When were you EVER in the same league as us?

Aside from the irrelevant ECU "fans", I would like to point out that judging from the comments made on here by some on Terrapin Insider who profess to be fans but neither buy tix or support the University and feel that they have every right to bash the coach(es) and the team, the real fans unfortunately have our work cut out for us. People will come up with every excuse for not supporting the team (we're in a bad conference, the team was 2-10 last year, I want that loser Mike Leach, it's too far it's too cold it's not the redskins, waa waa waa, etc.) but in the end the ones they hurt are the student-athletes who have not only worked hard but have exceeded expectations. If you really care about this team and this school, then you owe it them to put your money where your mouth is. Go to the games. Go to this bowl.

A quick note to the bowl committee: if you want to make this a memorable game, I've got two words for you: Nationals Park. While I won't stay away because of the stadium, face it, the place is lousy. Nationals Park is suitable for at least one game (think Wrigley and Yankees Stadium this year) and has a great view of the rest of the city. Plus a smaller crowd will still look bigger to the TV audience. Just think about it for next year when NC State comes...

Posted by: ecglotfelty | December 11, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

It would be an embarrassment if ECU were to outdraw the Terps in our own backyard. I hope RFK is a full house awash in a sea of red with the game being the offensive show expected. With the ECU defense, this could be our most exciting game of the year. Why all the whining?

Posted by: garydunstan | December 11, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

To my fellow TERP NATION!!

As a former player (Co-Captain 96'), Terrapin Club Member, and Terrapin Fan, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a couple of observations. First, WE should attend the Military Bowl for no other reason than our undying fandom for Maryland Football. So what - - if we can't guarantee the TERPS won't be passed over again next year? Lets support our TERPS "THIS YEAR!" And for the record, I've purchased three thickets (@ $90.00 + $2.00) under my Terpoint Priority - - one for myself, one for another Terrapin Club Member with a lesser Terpoint Status, and one as a gift for a friend of mine from Bowie, MD who happens to be, of all things, a Florida State fan. Hopefully his watching the TERPS rip ECU will be the first step towards converting him over to TERP NATION.

But if your TERP fandom isn't enough, let me offer a second reason to attend the game. Have you ever "experienced" RFK Stadium - - when it's hyped? TERPS, we could make this an awesome Bowl for our squad. RFK Stadium gave the Redskins an advantage over its opponents for decades. Our TERPS don't need a rockin' RFK in order to bludgeon the Pirates (that's goin' down anyway!). However, we've got a chance to make a statement. Not to any freckin' Bowl Committee, or ACC leadership, or even to the ECU Nation. We can make a statement to OUR TERRAPINS. We can let them know how much we appreciate their turn-around, their hard work, and their decision to play for the TERRAPINS.

TERP NATION - - lets DO THIS! Look at how we supported our TERPS at M&T Bank Stadium this year, when we beat Navy! That game was on a Monday evening, remember? Our massive support for the TERPS at that game sparked this season's rebound. So at a minimum, lets finish our attendance season as strong as our TERPS will finish their football season.


Posted by: JEDI_TERP | December 12, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Terps don't get top high school players. They lose out to the top rank teams, who come into our backyard and sign our top high school players. You look at this year's players being sign and are looking at UMd. They are 3 star players not 4 or 5 star players. We were 2-10 and we lost to Mid Tenn two years in row. Thats why fans don't come. This year the team some how won 8 games and 5-3 in ACC. They were 3-4 vs. bowl teams. Three of the losts were on the road. I am in Arkansas now. I been fan since the 1960's. I use to live down the hill from the campus. I was hoping for Music City Bowl so I could have come see my team. I went to Fla in 80's when they played Tenn in the bowl game.
Get the good players and build good football program then the fans will come. Like you build it they will come! Getting the 8th ACC was not fair and it all about $ not who belongs bowl wise.
I can see East Carl. win the bowl game. Because The team won't be up, fans won't be up for the game. I hope am wrong. Remember when the head coach took over in earlier 2000's, the players were not his players. Terps have been falling since then till this year. if we can't get the top players and bowl games we should get. We need big name head coach who know how to get the top players. Staying in ACC or going Big East or Big Ten no matter what they do we need top players. Terps are always behind on the field vs. the top teams. Very unhappy #1 Terps fan!

Posted by: daniel31 | December 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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