The University of Maryland has joined the Big Ten!!!!
I've been to Maryland, actually on a few occasions. I had a client out there - a construction company working out of shipyard. It was a family-owned business; the family originated from Maine. One of the main guys lived across the Chesapeake Bay in a fairly rural area, which was surprising to me because before I got there I pictured the east coast much like I picture the west coast - a giant massive glob of humanity in which there is only concrete, steel, and buildings.
I enjoyed my trips to Maryland. I got to go to a Hawaiian Luau, meet an actual real life NASA rocket scientist, see the coast, and of course, have crab cakes, which are every bit as wonderful as seafood lovers say they are. I was forbidden from eating lobster, as the family would say "It ain't no Maine lobster, Jon. You're not eating it. You want lobster, we'll go back to Maine."
But crab cakes? Yeah, crab cakes.
School name: University of Maryland
Location: College Park, Maryland
Mascot/Nickname: University of Maryland Terrapins, Testudo
School Colors: Black, White, Red, Gold (Mixed together = dragon puke)
Distance from Lincoln: 1,205 miles - about 19 hours on I-80
Enrollment: 37,272 (2013)
What do you know about the University of Maryland? Other than their ridiculous uniforms, probably not a whole lot, yet here they are, conference mates.
To get to know them, we asked the SBNation Maryland site TestudoTimes.com for some help, and they delivered!
Who the hell are you people? How do we refer to you? Are you Marylanders? Turtles? What?
Justin: People from Maryland are Marylanders. Students and alumni at the university are Terps. I'm a Terp but not a Marylander.
Alex: I'm from Pittsburgh, so I'm also a Terp but not a Marylander. I've always thought the full enunciation, Terrapin, had a certain class to it that Terp sells short, but the abbreviated nickname is enough, I guess.
Pat: Yeah, I have found this school attracts a ton of people from the Philadelphia/New Jersey areas, including myself who is originally from Philly. So I am certainly not a Marylander, although it is a great state, but I am proud to be a Terp. One of the more unique mascots in all of sports if you ask me.
Todd: So let's get weird here. I'm a Marylander but not a Terp. (However, my sister is both.)
Husker fans love their collegiate sports. It's not just football. The volleyball team sells out in around an hour every season, and the baseball team is typically in the top 25 in attendance in the nation.
Rank your sports by popularity, and please comment on the sports your fan base loves/ignores/wants to start/wants to go away.
Justin: Men's basketball is definitely the most popular, followed by, in no particular order, football, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer and women's basketball. Baseball had a very good season this year and a new student fan organization, The Backstop, has helped bring people to the games.
I don't think anyone wants any sports to go away. Some sports were cut in the past due to budget restraints, but the move to the Big Ten should help with that. Whether those sports will be able to be brought back is yet to be seen, but it would be great if they were. I personally would love to see hockey grow more here. I love the sport and would want my school to have a varsity team in it.
Alex: Men's basketball is the obvious top dog, and football is just as clearly the No. 2. After that, there are significant followings for a lot of sports, but they seem to me to be more niche-based than those of the biggest teams. Soccer, lacrosse, baseball and field hockey make up the next tier.
Pat: That was very well put by Justin, and I would definitely say people care about our lacrosse and soccer teams more than most other schools because of their usual success. It will be interesting to see what happens to the lacrosse following, since they will not be experiencing the same competition in the Big Ten. But I think with the season the baseball team just had and an opportunity to be successful early, the baseball team could see its popularity grow immensely.
Another sport that is near and dear to my heart is wrestling because I grew up wrestling for 13 years in Pennsylvania. This means I am very aware of the dominance that the Big Ten and Big 12 have in that sport and I am not looking forward to seeing our team go from on top of the ACC most years to struggling against the likes of Iowa, Minnesota, and Penn State.
Brendan: Maybe you've heard, but crabcakes and football are what Maryland does.
Todd: I cover most Maryland sports other than men's basketball (1) and football (2). These are the sports that raise passions. Maryland is in an odd spot. It's one of only three or five (as nearly as I can tell) Division I universities with 2 professional football teams within 30 miles of its campus (Navy, Rutgers, Cal & Stanford are the others) add in 2 Major League baseball teams, an NBA franchise, and an NHL team and you can see that the competition for not merely the sports dollar but sports attention is fierce.
The women's basketball team draws fairly well and has a solid core of supporters. Attention on teams grows as they succeed. Maryland fans view themselves as passionate about soccer and lacrosse and the fans in those niches are but I'd guess that your volleyball team probably outdraws either of those. But, and this is not meant disrespectfully, you all are in Lincoln. What options do you have? Making a guess I'd say your closest MLB and NFL teams are 200 miles away in Kansas City.
What is your attitude towards Nebraska?
Justin: Pretty neutral. I grew up in Columbus and spent my whole life before attending Maryland as an Ohio State fan, so no Big Ten school is entirely new to me. That being said, I've been to almost every Big Ten school but Nebraska is one of the now three I haven't been to, mainly because of how far it is and they're a relatively new member, so I have zero personal experience with Lincoln or the university. I don't think many people around here have much of an opinion either.
Alex: I'd love to catch a football game there sometime. For me, it's in the top tier of great college atmospheres to take in a game at, and it would be a ball. It just looked like so much fun when Jim Carrey spontaneously dropped in at a Huskers game in "Yes Man."
Pat: I'm with Alex on this one. Ever since seeing "Yes Man" I definitely need to make it out there for a football game. Other than that I don't have too many strong feelings towards the school one way or another. They too have a unique mascot, which is always a plus in my book, but I think I would rather be a Terp than a Cornhusker, but that's just me.
Todd: Count me in as someone who'd like to see an early season football game (I don't do cold well) as I hear it's one of the great experiences in college sports. As for the state itself, hey, you guys have Warren Buffett so that's a plus right there. I've been to Omaha and thought it was a reasonable place but mostly I'm a big city, east coast boy.
Whats the feeling for now having to literally go halfway across the country just for a conference game?
Justin: Well, Florida and Massachusetts aren't close to Maryland either. It's going to be a bit strange for Maryland to be traveling to Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota for games but I guess that's life in the modern-day NCAA.
Alex: It would be an epic pain, but welcome to college sports in the year 2014.
Pat: That I better find a job that pays for me to go on all of these trips haha. Otherwise, I'll just have to enjoy most of them from the luxury of my couch and try to save up for a road trip here and there. I definitely want to try and see most of the Big Ten venues though, at least for football.
Todd: When they first announced the move, I was upset not by the travel to Nebraska but by the travel in general. In our (soon to be) former conference, I could drive to any North Carolina school plus Virginia and Virginia Tech (I still don't count Pitt), watch a game and drive home the same day. Now, that applies just to PSU & Rutgers. As I see it geographically, Maryland's gone from being Illinois-ish to BC or Miami-ish. We'll figure out some way to deal with it.
Now, take any reference to the Cornhuskers, football, collegiate sports, and think about the state. Now, what is your attitude towards Nebraska?
Alex: I've never been, but Nebraska strikes me as a polar opposite to Maryland. There are definite political differences, as Maryland's trending very leftward and Nebraska's staunchly conservative. The state of Maryland has lots of farmland and fields, but College Park's in about as urban an area as they come, and I gather Lincoln isn't. Nebraskans grow corn, and Marylanders harvest crabs. Etcetera. Geographically and culturally, there are lot of differences, but both are sports-crazed states and schools that should be competitive.
Pat: Corn and probably some friendly people. Definitely some crazy football fans who probably look forward to nothing more than cheering on their team after a long day of corn husking. Corn makes whiskey too, so I'm sure some of that contributes to the rowdiness of the fans.
Todd: Huskers. (Just completing Justin's thought.)
WHAT THE HELL IS A LACROSSE AND HOW DO WE GET ONE?
Justin: As a transplant myself, lacrosse is something I'm still trying to figure out. I don't know all the rules or entirely understand the strategy, but it's a fun sport to watch. I want to try to get into it more as it is fairly popular at Maryland.
Pat: As someone who literally played just about every sport growing up, I can honestly say that I don't think I ever had more fun than when I was playing lacrosse for a few years in high school. The sport is not nearly as big where I'm from as it is here, but it really is a fun and fast-paced sport with a lot of action. Think hockey on foot, with just more players in the game at one time.
With Maryland being kind of the cradle of civilization for lacrosse, there is definitely an affinity for it down here unlike anywhere else, which probably explains our team's and other Maryland teams like John Hopkins and Towson's success during most seasons. I think it's a shame that it is not really a mainstream sport at any Big Ten schools and I am not sure what will happen to our program as a result.
Todd: Lacrosse is actually a Native American sport called, in Mohawk, Tewaaraton. Hence, the name of the trophy awarded to the best collegiate player in the sport. It was some French dude who gave the sport the name lacrosse. I'd say that there are enough similarities to hockey that if you like hockey, you'll like lacrosse. The stick with the mesh basket at the end is called a crosse.
How much do you hate Texas and why?
Justin: I probably don't hate Texas as much as you. I didn't like how they handled what looked to be the collapse of the Big 12 a few years ago and they win a lot, so obviously that's a good mixture for some distain. I would definitely put myself in the "not a fan" category when it comes to Texas.
Alex: I don't actively root for Texas, but "meh."
Pat: The only thing I really hate in Texas are the Dallas Cowboys, and hate probably isn't a strong enough of a word, seeing as how I am a diehard Eagles fan. Other than that, I oddly enough grew up kind of liking the Longhorns in most college sports and I never fully let that go, although Maryland is definitely my number one college team now. They just always had players I liked in football and basketball and UT-Austin just seems like a really cool school.
I don't like though how as a state they think they are larger than life. Sports are such a large part of the culture down there, which I think is awesome, but that can sometimes lead to priorities and power being skewed.
Todd: If it weren't for Austin, I'd happily give them back to Mexico. Lots of big hair.
What's your BBQ preference and why?
Justin: Demonize me if you will, but I don't really eat BBQ.
Alex: Same here; I don't do BBQ. Sign me up for some bleu cheese and call it a day.
Pat: Psh, I'll be the first to say as long as it's and has BBQ sauce on it, i'll probably eat it. Some ribs or a nice steak and I'm chillen.
Todd: Pollo a la Brasa Peruvian style (or PC as my Testudo Times compatriots know it)
Will you be able to use that East Coast Bias to benefit the Big Ten?
Justin: If you expect Maryland and Rutgers to make the Big Ten a media darling, you have come to the wrong place.
Alex: If there's truly any kind of eastern bias, I'd love to get in on the fun someday. Definitely hasn't happened yet.
Pat: I think part of the Rutgers and Maryland moves for the Big Ten were completely because of an "East Coast bias" but mostly because they are in huge media markets and will certainly help the growth of the Big Ten Network.
Todd: Whatever East Cost Bias (Len, RIP as I write this on 6/19) exists, I'm not sharing mine.
What sport will you be able to compete immediately in the B1G, and what are you wincing at?
Justin: I can't think of many sports I don't think we will be able to compete in, but I guess that depends on what your definition of compete is. In football I don't expect to rack up Big Ten championships, but I expect us to be competitive and win games. In basketball I think we have the potential to be a perennial top team assuming the current slump gets figured in the near future, which will hopefully come sooner rather than later. In soccer and lacrosse I expect some major success. In general, I think we will do just fine and compete well.
Alex: Maryland football will be competitive, but they're not going to regularly stack up as one of the best teams in the conference, so I'm afraid it'll be a while before the Terps sniff roses. I think Maryland will immediately excel in soccer and make something of a splash in basketball. Broadly speaking, I think Maryland and the Big Ten are great fits for one another.
Pat: I expect to be competitive in football and basketball right away, but conference championships will most likely come later down the line, once we adapt the difference in playing style within this conference. Lacrosse will clearly dominate but I don't even think half the schools in the Big Ten have teams so that's barely saying anything. And soccer should also dominate, at least men's, because they seem to be a national powerhouse every year. As I alluded to before, I think baseball will have a chance to make an impact just because we are coming from a great baseball conference and off a solid year. I know outside of Nebraska there isn't too much competitiveness in Big Ten baseball. Wrestling will be a hard transition, not that many around here will care, but I for one will be sad to see us struggle, but I know it's coming at least in that sport.
Todd: Immediately, I expect Maryland will be at the top (by that I mean top three) of field hockey, women's lacrosse (2014 National Champs), men's lacrosse (2014 Final Four), women's basketball (2014 Final Four & undefeated in the ACC-B1G Challenge), men's (2013 & 2014 Final Four) and women's soccer, and baseball (2014 Super Regional) immediately. I'm cautiously optimistic that the football and men's basketball teams can be in the middle of the pack - maybe lower middle but middle nonetheless. This applies to gymnastics to. I think they will be in the middle of the conference. Early on, I think volleyball, wrestling, and softball will struggle. I don't know enough about track and field, tennis, or golf to rationally pontificate.