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Maryland Still Not A Good Fit In The Big Ten

People just aren’t fearing the turtle like they used to.

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Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: The Maryland Terrapins mascot walks on the court during the Terrapins and Northwestern Wildcats game during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Over at the Washington Post, Barry Srvluga has a column up about Maryland wondering where Terp basketball is today.

He says it doesn’t really feel like a Big Ten team and that the biggest game of the year, to him, was the non-conference matchup with Virginia back in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge:

“But I can’t shake this thought: Wherever you rank it, the Maryland basketball coaching job isn’t as good in the Big Ten as it was in the ACC. As a founding member of the latter league, Maryland was a basketball school playing in a basketball conference. As a still new member of the Big Ten, it’s a basketball school playing in a football conference. What’s the most attractive home game for a fan on Maryland’s 2018-19 schedule? I’d argue it was the November date against Virginia — a nonconference game.“

Well he’s basically right about this. Maryland - or at least Maryland President Wallace Loh, who remember pulled the move off in secret and in violation of a Maryland state sunshine law - did so to get Big Ten football money. And due to mismanagement, Maryland was basically bankrupt. It probably seemed like a great idea at the time, possibly even necessary.

Well they got money and also trips to Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota. As an unfortunate development, as Maryland pursued big-time football, its program went through a trauma arguably worse than that of Len Bias when OL Jordan McNair died in practice. Bias at least was responsible for his own demise. Jordan seems to have been pushed to his death by a callous and cruel coaching staff in pursuit of big-time football.

The move to the Big Ten would have been more interesting had Loh actually discussed it with the various groups that it affected, starting with athletes and coaches and then fans, students and alums rather than plotting a move in secret that he knew would provoke a major backlash.

After the board of trustees forced him to retain coach DJ Durkin, Loh did go to his various constituencies to get a consensus to fire the highly controversial coach.

We realize that Wikipedia isn’t always a reliable source but this passage, subjective though it is, is striking for how it seems to relay a bitterness towards Maryland’s president:

“Under Loh’s leadership, the University declined in US News rankings[10], saw its athletic program virtually destroyed through a series of poor personnel choices, beginning with the selection of Kevin Anderson as athletic director and Randy Edsall as head football coach, and endured a scandal related to the death of a football player, Jordan McNair.[11]Furthermore, Loh chose Damon Evans – the employee who was responsible for oversight of the football program at the time of the tragedy – to be the school’s next athletic director; the appointment was announced after McNair’s death, but before the results of the investigation into the incident were known.[12]

“Loh announced on October 30, 2018, that he would retire as president of the University of Maryland on June 30, 2019, due to the results of the investigation into McNair’s death.[13]The following day, October 31, after public uproar over the decision to retain head football coach D. J. Durkin Loh fired Durkin, contrary to the desire of the University’s Board of Regents. Loh said that he had conducted his own consultations with students, faculty, and other interested parties and had concluded that an overwhelming majority were concerned about Durkin’s return to campus. Loh also said that he would focus on reforming the school’s athletics department so that student safety was paramount for the remainder of his time at the helm of the university.[14]”

All history now. The reality remains though: Maryland is an East Coast basketball peg trying to fit into a Midwest football square. But hey, at least the money is good, right?

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