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If Maryland wins the ACC, will Maryland fans notice?

Please check out John Feinstein’s column on Coach Ralph Friedgen and the state of the Maryland program. What I found particularly interesting was his take on the attendance issues.

The two biggest questions the next few weeks: Can Maryland win an ACC division title? Would Terrapins fans notice if it did?

Seriously. I find the criticism of my post about educated bowl speculation amusing. The sad truth about the bowl selection process is how much weight an attractive brand name and a rabid fan base carries. It carries lots of weight. And Maryland is thin in both areas.

For that reason, Maryland will fall as far as it is technically allowed to fall in the bowl selection process. It is not fair to the players, the coaches or the fans who have stuck by this bunch through last season’s heartache. But it's the truth. Maryland fans are among the most passionate around, but they have been slow to get behind this team during a resurgent season. Why?

I maintain that the three most likely destinations for Maryland are the Orange Bowl, if the Terps win the ACC title game; the Sun Bowl, if they lose in the ACC title game; or the Military Bowl, if they fail to win the division and two other conditions are met. If you disagree, that's your choice. But I'd like to hear your rationale about how Maryland gets to, say, the Music City Bowl in Nashville if there are eight bowl-eligible ACC teams and teams are within a game of the Terrapins in the standings.

I want to take my Saturday post a few steps further because I have a little more time. Let’s first establish that Maryland will fall in the process as far as technically permitted. The Terps may be a more attractive selection than Wake Forest, Duke or Boston College, but those teams probably won’t make bowl games. How about Virginia? Perhaps, but the Cavs still have a ways to go to become bowl eligible. No one would expect a bowl game to select Maryland over the likes of Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, the teams that could fill out the remaining ACC-tied bowl slots.

So if Maryland loses the ACC title game, it likely falls as far as the title game loser can fall – to fourth, the Sun Bowl.

If Maryland fails to win its division and if there are eight bowl-eligible teams in the league, if likely would fall to eighth, the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium, provided the Terps don’t have a two-game advantage on North Carolina or Clemson. And that’s something to keep an eye on. UNC and Clemson right now have two ACC wins apiece; Maryland has three. Rules, of course, stipulate that a team can leapfrog another in the selection process provided that it is within one game in the conference standings. So if Maryland gets to five ACC wins, UNC and Clemson could jump the Terps if they are at four ACC wins.

Those are the most likely scenarios. And Maryland fans have little to be ticked off about when they are not filling the stadium to watch a winning football team. Yes, bowl officials were in the press box to watch Saturday’s romp over Wake Forest. They also saw fewer than 40,000 fans fill a stadium to watch a then-5-2 team on its homecoming. It is an issue. Maryland controls its own destiny on the field the rest of the way. But players have little control over the attendance problem.

No one can say the economy is booming, and if that’s the prime reason for the empty seats it is understandable.

By Eric Prisbell  | November 2, 2010; 8:47 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Comments

Look- a big factor in the apathy of Maryland fans right now (outside of the obvious- coming off a 2-10 season, several mediocre seasons) is that it is hard to get excited about a team whose games rarely seem to be televised.

11 of their last 21 games overall have been EXCLUSIVELY on ESPN3.com. A lot of people, myself included, don't have an ISP that carries ESPN3, meaning there is almost no possible way to see a 7-2/6-3 team play UVA in two weeks. It would certainly be a lot easier to get excited for the FSU/NCSU games at the end of the year if you could actually see their game the week prior.

I live in Hanover, PA, which is only 90 minutes from College Park and just barely across the MD state line. While I try to attend games when I can, it's hard to get to more than one or two each fall. Yet, the MD Radio Network doesn't extend to where I live (especially at night). I have DirecTV, where I can watch games all day long on the Big Ten Network, yet I don't get the "ACC Network" at all. And, like I mentioned, my ISP doesn't carry ESPN3, making it virtually impossible to follow the games on Saturday without getting in my car and driving down to MD.

Until the ACC works out a better television deal with ESPN, I think you are going to continue to see a lot of fan apathy towards MD football, except for the rare season where they challenge for 9 or 10 wins and a shot at a BCS bowl.

Posted by: FeartheNoodle | November 2, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Think of all the big match-ups in Byrd the past few years. West Virginia was an amazing atmosphere. FSU a few years back was freezing cold and still well attended. Terps fan just don't show up as much for the lesser games unless they are forced to by those packages where you can buy a premium game if you buy a lesser game at the same time.

Plus, what is it that Stan Kasten is always going on about? You get the attendance you deserve, and it is based on the previous season.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | November 2, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I think the low attendance was due to political rally plus homecoming itself. Many people were still tailgaiting when the game started, and when Maryland went up 21-7 or whatever amount, people probably decided to continue their tailgates and catch up with people.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | November 2, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

As usual, John has this exactly right. That will make Barno crazy!

Posted by: petecard | November 2, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The paradox unfortunately in UMDs case is that a winning team does not necessarily equal a good team...UMDs schedule and previous record against good teams does not need to be repeated, but the question of being a competitive football team is still very much in doubt....this team was humiliated by WVU and Clemson...lets see how they do Sat against Miami..they have caught a major break in that it sounds like they will be facing a 3rd string QB

Posted by: TerpfanMA | November 2, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Your analysis is premature.

It is too soon to make predictions about fan enthusiasm, a key premise in your analysis.

Fan enthusiasm will depend on the team's performance over the next 4 weeks.

If MD wins three of the next four, and does not go to the championship game, they will do well in the selection process. They can only fall to the bottom if they win two or less.

Posted by: gfenner | November 2, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

When I was in school, it was fun to come out and see Shawne or VD or DHB, even when the team was underperforming. We had first round NFL talent, and solid NFL players at other positions.

This team the last two years has little NFL talent, and no one as electrifying as those guys were.

Posted by: GK2008 | November 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Maryland football fans are not fooled by Maryland's record this season. Maryland has only one semi-quality win this season. They beat Navy, and one could argue that Navy actually outplayed them in that game. Also, Navy is not as good as they've been in the past few years. Witness Navy's loss to Duke only a week after Duke was crushed by VT. Other than Navy, what are Maryland's quality wins? When they go up against teams that are only decent, like West Virginia and Clemson, they lose by double digits. Maryland is 6-2 at this point, primarily because of scheduling, and the fans know it. We'll see what happens going forward. Their quarterback seems to be pretty good, and since he's young, one would hope that he keeps improving, so maybe by the end of the year, Maryland will have a chance to be an ok team. But no one should expect Maryland fans to be excited because they beat up on Morgan State.

Posted by: sonny2 | November 2, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

What are the prospects that UNC imposes a self ban of any bowl game this year to head off the NCAA? It seems that they will get the hammer soon enough, let alone wonder if Butch survives this? That is if UNC still values their reputation. As others said though, we are entering the tougher part of the schedule, so all of this remains undetermined.

Posted by: NFTerps | November 2, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick comment:

North Carolina has VTech, FSU, NC State and Duke left on their schedule. They'd be lucky to win two of those final four. So the UNC point may/will be moot.

And would a bowl (other than possibly one in Charlotte) really want to go near this program? Does UNC have a stronger football history than UMD? No. Does UNC travel stronger in football? Probably not.

I see the Terps in Nashville or Shreveport. That's not a statement of fact, rather a prediction based on our remaining schedule, schedule of our competitors and an objective view of traveling/location/etc.

Posted by: fushezzi | November 2, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what to make of this.

If Maryland places 2nd in the ACC, then they deserve the highest bowl they're technically eligible for, along with a quality opponent.

Why would teams finishing below Maryland go to a better bowl game? If Maryland has more wins than teams, X,Y, and Z, then they should go to a better bowl game than teams X, Y, and Z.

Of course, it's a also a bit early to be arguing about this. Maryland's about to enter a tough stretch. Win first, then we'll talk about bowls.

Posted by: SirPelleas | November 2, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This team the last two years has little NFL talent, and no one as electrifying as those guys were.

Posted by: GK2008 | November 2, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

------------------------------

Ummm, ever hear of Torrey Smith?
And keep an eye on Hartsfield on the defensive side of the ball.

Posted by: fushezzi | November 2, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

J.Feinstein's columntoday is interesting, but NOT accurate )"clinch a postseason berth";"a bowl bid secure", 6 wins dod not guarantee a bowl selection.

Posted by: rrlyon131 | November 2, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I think the low attendance was due to political rally plus homecoming itself. Many people were still tailgaiting when the game started, and when Maryland went up 21-7 or whatever amount, people probably decided to continue their tailgates and catch up with people.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | November 2, 2010 9:51 AM

If they had a ticket for the game, they were still counted in the 39,000.

Posted by: Kev29 | November 2, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

For bowl selection, if Virginia manages to win at Duke and BC - but lose to the Terps and finish 6-6... they are going to the Military Bowl. That would make the most sense. I can see the Terps in Charlotte or El Paso in that case.

Posted by: Kev29 | November 2, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I think they are a few reasons why there's not a rabid fanbase filling up Byrd this season.

1. Last year's 2-10 season and return of both Fridge and Franklin frustrated a lot of fans. I know a lot of former season ticket holders that did not renew this year soley because of last year's pathetic on-field performance and failure of the AD to do anything about it.

2. Single game ticket deals. Over the past two years, as interest in the program has waned, mostly due to bad home schedules and poor performance, the athletic department has offered serious discounts for single game tickets. For example, anyone could have purchased a ticket for this past week's game for $20 (more than half of the face value), and that has frustrated season ticket holders that pay slightly less than face value for the full season ticket package, but nowhere close to what the department is discounting single game sales. Many former season ticket holders that I know have dropped their season tickets and just buy single game tickets for the games they want, which ends up being significantly cheaper. A fan could have probably bought tickets to Navy and FSU through a scalper, and bought the rest of the games as discounted tickets through the ticket office and still have paid less than a full season ticketholder.

3. Terrible schedules. Let's face it, the Terps have had no more than one excellent home matchup over the past four years. Here are the home games the Terps have had since 2006-

2006--W&M, MTSU, FIU, NCSU, FSU (down year), Miami (down year), Wake
2007--'Nova, WVU, GaTech, UVA, Clemson, BC
2008--Del, Cal, Eastern Mich, Wake, NCState, UNC, and FSU
2009--JMU, MTSU, Rutgers (down year), Clemson, UVA, VaTech, and BC
2010--Morgan, FIU, Duke, Wake, FSU, and NCSU

It doesn't help when the ACC has been so terrible over the past 5-8 years, and the Terps are locked in with UVA as their annual inter-divisional opponent, but the non-conference schedule, espeically at Byrd has really hurt season ticket sales, and scheduling ND in 2011 at Fed Ex and Texas in 2015 at somewhere other than Byrd doesn't help. The renewal of the WVU series should help, but the Terps need to schedule a strong non-conference opponent at Byrd in years when they play WVU in Morgantown. Fewer and fewer people are going to buy season tickets when there's only one decent matchup on the home schedule, and while they can't control the ACC opponents, they can control 4 games every year. The TV deal also has a lot to do with this as fans rarely know what time games are before they buy their season tickets. It's a seriously raw deal that fans have to block out entire Saturdays for Terps games because there's no way of knowing what time a game is going to be. Rules should be set up that lock in the times for at least 4 home games when season tickets are purchased. Make ESPN adjust their schedule, instead of vice versa.

Posted by: Russtinator | November 2, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what to make of this.

If Maryland places 2nd in the ACC, then they deserve the highest bowl they're technically eligible for, along with a quality opponent.

Why would teams finishing below Maryland go to a better bowl game? If Maryland has more wins than teams, X,Y, and Z, then they should go to a better bowl game than teams X, Y, and Z.

Posted by: SirPelleas | November 2, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

SirPelleas, no offense but I think we all knew that you didn't understand how it works when you kept mocking the bowls that MD has been to in previous years, even after seasons in which we were ACC title contenders and won 8-9 games. As I "tried" explaining to you then, it no longer matters how good your season is. If you aren't getting the BCS bid, it's all about how well your school travels and how close your school is to the bowl location. We had better record and beat Clemson in 08, yet they got the Gator Bowl while we went to Boise. Why? Because they are closer to Florida and they travel better.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Kev29,
I believe he was referring to the students. Students don't pick up tickets until they go to the game. I think the attendance was a couple thousand lower because of the rally.

Posted by: aviscardo | November 2, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Kev29, UVA has to finish 7-5 this year to be bowl eligible because they have 2 FCS teams on their schedule. Only one FCS victory counts towards the six needed to secure a bowl bid.

With 72 bowl slots, even a 6-6 Terps team is pretty secure in getting a bid to at least the Emerald Bowl (the "overflow" destination if the ACC has 9 bowl eligible teams). The ACC is no longer tied to the Gator Bowl. The picking order is...

Orange Bowl (ACC Champion in Miami Gardens, FL)
Chick-Fil-A (Atlanta, GA against SEC)
Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, FL against Big East/ND)
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX against Pac-10)
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, NC against Big East)
Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN against SEC)
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA against Mountain West)
Military Bowl (Washington, DC against CUSA)

Posted by: Russtinator | November 2, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Watch out Russ. SirPelleas and TerpfanMA are going to mock all of those bowls except the Orange Bowl (that's the only one they've heard of). To them, if you don't win the ACC and go to a BCS bowl every year, then it was a disappointing season and Fridge should be fired.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 2, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Weak support for Terps is an old issue and was a problem even in the 'good old days' of Jim Tatum and Maryland's top ten teams of the fifties. Most Maryland undergrads are commuters; there's great competition in the Washington-Baltimore region from Navy, the Redskins, the Ravens, UVa, Va Tech, and many other college teams. Winning teams or not, strong fan support for Maryland football is a problem that won't go away.

Posted by: AncientTerp | November 2, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Lack of attendence at Maryland has been going on for years..Put a few good years together, people hop on the bandwagon.. I see two reasons for the weak attendence.
1st- Maryland football has never been really big for students while they're at Maryland. Thus when they become alumni, they don't care.
2nd- In alot of other states where college football is big, people from all over the state support the school, whether they attended the school or not..I don't know how many times I'll be wearing a Maryland shirt and someone will come up and ask if I went to Maryland.. I did not..But you wear a Penn St. shirt in PA, or an Ohio St shirt in Ohio, you're just a fan of the state school, and have been from a kid.. People in Maryland just don't care about the state university like they do at other states across the country.. Like I've asked before, how many Terps alumni live within a two hour drive of College Park, and how many of those are Terrapin Club members, or even season ticket holders..I bet the percentage is low...
And please, don't blame the rally at the Mall for no one being there last weekend, that is just weak... Go Terps !!!

Posted by: frostanna | November 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

As a season tix holder for 7 years, but having grown up in SEC country. I can tell you that MD just doesn't have a large quantity of devoted football fans. There are some of course, but the majority aren't diehard. They have an NFL mentality, the tailgating consists of beer in an asphalt parking lot playing flipcup. Not putting it down if it's your thing, but the atmosphere isn't enough to keep people coming during the down times. Even in the good or medium times people only want to be there for the "big" games. The fans are just more casual about college football here-- probably due to the redskins, ravens, caps, wizards, etc... - and the other social (non-sporting) outlets that compete for the interests of fringe fans.

Posted by: mcmelton | November 2, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Poor teams result in poor attendance...anyone been to an O's game lately? If UMD had a competitive program and played a competitive schedule, attendance would jump...

This year Friedgen found a way to soften up our schedule enough to disguise our thin talent and beat the # 236, 128, 117, 103, 85, and 61 teams. We got pasted by # 57 and 52.

Posted by: TerpfanMA | November 2, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It has nothing to do with the teams we schedule. It has everything to do with the Redskins being the number one show in town. Most people don't have the time or money to be strong supporters of both.

Look around the country. Can you think of any college football program with rabid support that is within 30 minutes of 2 NFL teams, 1 NBA team and the most exciting team in the NHL? No.

Posted by: garrett4 | November 2, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I think frostanna comes close to hitting the nail right on the head--good college FB towns are places where the game on Saturday is the biggest deal in town. Go to Columbus, OH on a Saturday, go to Morgantown on a Saturday, go to Auburn, AL on a Saturday, go to Austin, TX on a Saturday (or State College, Knoxville, Madison, Eugene, or about 15 other cities). These places shut down with the exception of the football game--that's not true of College Park/Washington DC. There's a social element to the "event" of Saturday afternoons in big time college fb towns--in College Park, the game is just another option.

MD/DC is a front-running town (Exhibit A--election night) and when the Terps are good, people will show up. When they're not, people will be distracted by other things to do. That's why it's tougher to win at Md than it is at about 40 other schools in the country.

Posted by: PeteinAZ | November 2, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Barno said "We had better record and beat Clemson in 08, yet they got the Gator Bowl while we went to Boise. Why? Because they are closer to Florida and they travel better."

As previously discussed, while Clemson did not deserve to go to the Gator bowl based on record, BC and Florida State had a better overall record, conference record and beat Maryland head to head. Georgia Tech had a better overall record and conference record and did not play Maryland. Maryland was 7-5 and 4-4 in conference. They were blown off the field at home against FSU Thanksgiving weekend and then lost at BC the next weekend. Maryland in no way deserved to go to one of the top four ACC bowls in 2008.

Posted by: Chief2 | November 3, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

While Maryland was 5-2 going into the Wake game, they were unimpressively beating bad teams. They were very impressive against Wake. If they play well the next two weeks on the road, I would be surprised if attendance is below 50k when they return home against FSU.

Posted by: Chief2 | November 3, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Garrett....perhaps the silliest comment ever written...if your statement were true, then why does the attendance vary at every game...are you honestly going on record as saying the attendance would be the same if we are playing VT or JMU?

And I get tired of the Redskins/Ravens excuse...first of all the Terps play on Saturday, not Sunday and the fact that we support 2 NFL franchises demonstrates to me that there is a thirst for football in this area...the terps just dont tap it because they arent that good...few people want to go see an inept offense lace it up against FIU or JUMU or Temple or William and Mary......if they Terps were competitive with other large schools AND scheduled them, attendance would be up 30-40%

Posted by: TerpfanMA | November 3, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

That is exactly why the attendance varies on the opponent. If we were the biggest show in town we would always have high attendance.

Run down the top 25 list and see how many teams have multiple sports programs nearby that they have to compete with.

Plus only 1 or 2 have a top level basketball team on campus to compete with as well.

The reason places like Alabama are good in college football is because people care about college football more in places like Alabama. Pretty simple.

Posted by: garrett4 | November 3, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Barno - if someone places second in the Olympics, do they get a bronze metal because of a weak fan base or poor travel/endorsement? I was defending Maryland. There are certainly nuances to the reality of bowl bids, but I am expressing my opinion as an ideal.

Yes, I have been sarcastic about past bowl games, but I haven't said that Fridge should be fired for not reaching a BCS. My contention is that we should strive for BCS and not be wholly satisfied with less meaningful bowl games, which is apparently the case with you. Every board needs an arrogant snip like yourself.

Posted by: SirPelleas | November 3, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Plus our attendance is higher when we play teams like VT and WVU because their fans care more and they travel.

Posted by: garrett4 | November 3, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It's all about history and culture.
DC is a Redskins Town.
Maryland is a Basketball School.
Oh, also, the DC area has a HUGE population of people that grew up somewhere else.

Oh, and guess how many of the top 15 College football attendance leaders share a market with an NFL Team:

2.

Posted by: someguy100 | November 3, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

SirPelleas, no offense but you come off as someone who thinks the season is a disappointment if we don't make it to the Orange Bowl. You have repeatedly mocked the bowl games that MD goes to, even when those were good seasons. How anyone could mock the 2006 terps season is beyond me. We won 9 games and went to the 3rd best bowl we could possibly have gone to: Orange Bowl is first, then Peach bowl, then Champ Sports. This nonsense that Fridge gets 6 wins ever year and sneaks into a bowl is just that: nonsense. The facts don't support it and it gets tiring listening to fans who don't even go to the games b**** and whine about attendance and weak bowl games when they do absolutely nothing to contribute to the program.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 3, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Barno - you're arguing ad-hominem and putting words in my mouth. And when did I argue about the Fridge geting 6 wins and sneaking into a bowl? I never said anything close to that.

I used sarcasm to express my desire for the Terps to go beyond the CSB. Do you not want the same thing?

Posted by: SirPelleas | November 3, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and meant to say Bronze Medal...

Posted by: SirPelleas | November 3, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

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