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Maryland Not Our Rival, Not Our Conference
So the Maryland Terrapins, one of the founding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, have announced that they will be leaving the conference in 2014.
The long time self-viewed outcasts of the Tobacco Road dominated conference now feels that their best option to save or re-energize their financially strapped athletic program is to leave the conference it helped create and plop down $50 million dollars in the process to join the Big 10. Yeah, doesn’t make much sense to me either.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly saddened to see the Terps go, at least as a Duke fan. The fan base of Maryland has become, in my opinion, one of the worst in all of the ACC. Now that doesn’t mean everyone in the Terps fan base, but the behavior of a large portion of that base has overtime become an embarrassment to the league.
From the burning of couches, to the throwing of water bottles at opposing teams’ fans, to the constant barrage of profanity laced chants and even riots after wins, a section of the Maryland fans have not ingratiated themselves to me or other members of the conference.
Mike Krzyzewski said it best Sunday night when asked about whether Maryland should stay in the league. He essentially didn’t even want to go there knowing that his opinion meant nothing to the Terps fans who loath him.
“I would hope they would stay in our league. Believe me I’m sure nobody at Maryland is going to pay attention to anything I say based on the response I get every time I walk in that arena,” Krzyzewski said. “There are two words with an exclamation point that are always said to me and I think if I comment on this there would be a resounding two words with an exclamation point coming from College Park.”
For years this behavior has been allowed to go on. In the early part of the 2000s when the Terps competed at the highest level and challenged both Duke and North Carolina on the basketball court, the hatred became the strongest.
Maryland and Duke had some classic battles and the Terp fan base took it upon themselves to consider Duke their strongest rival. And while the Blue Devil fan base jokingly denied that their was a rivalry (mostly as a way to get under Maryland fans’ skin) it was one of the best things going in ACC Baskeball.
But over the last 10 years Maryland hoops has fallen off. The fan base has tried to clinge to that early 2000s success but have lost more than they’ve won to Duke and North Carolina. They lost their athletic director to another ACC program, their Hall-of-Fame coach who brought them a national title retired and the athletic program in general has struggled under financial constraints forcing them to cut several programs.
And after years of feeling slighted by the big two teams in North Carolina and Duke; the Terps in a controversial decision have now elected to leave the conference.
In short they are taking their ball and going home. I would expect nothing less than that childish mentality from a school that has allowed their fans to act like hooligans on live TV.
Am I sad as a Duke fan that Maryland is taking their act to the Big 10? Not in the least. There they may get some financial perks but will likely not enjoy any more on field/court success and likely will be as much if not more of an afterthought in that conference than they feel they have been in the ACC.
Is this move a good one for the ACC? Not really. The ACC had been able to maintain a level of stability since the conference expansion and realignment started. Losing a founding member changes all of that. Will it open things up for other potential defections? Possibly, because if financially strapped Maryland can leave what’s to stop anyone else from paying the $50 million dollar buyout?
Only time will tell what the long-term repercussions of Maryland’s move are for the ACC and for the Terps.
As for Duke I fully expect the Cameron Crazies to welcome Maryland on January 26 with the usual ‘Not our Rivals’ chant but perhaps a new addition to that chant will now include ‘Not our Conference.’