COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s football team is stumbling through a second straight losing season and now has gone 11 straight years without winning an Atlantic Coast Conference title.
So how in the world are the Terrapins going to survive in the Big Ten?
Maryland announced Monday it will leave ACC and begin play in the Big Ten in 2014. That means the struggling football program will be forced to swap games against Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College for potential matchups with Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Fortunately, Maryland has one more year to prepare for the decided step up in competition. The Terrapins will close a 60-year association with the ACC next season before beginning Big Ten play.
Football coach Randy Edsall, 6-17 in his two seasons at the school, is certain Maryland will flourish in its new conference.
“The young men that we have here now, with what we recruited last year and knowing what we’re building here and the depth we’re creating, there’s no doubt we will be able to compete and do well in the Big Ten,” Edsall said Tuesday. “We’ll be fine because we’ll have the right people here, we’ll have the talent, and we’ll develop talent to make sure that we’re going to go in there and be competitive and win. That’s exactly what we’ll do.”
The problem is, Maryland can’t even win in the ACC. The Terps went 1-7 in the league in 2009, 5-3 in 2010 and 1-7 last year. This season, they are 2-5 (4-7 overall).
The team did, however, show improvement this year before losing four quarterbacks, its leading tackler and leading rusher to injury. Edsall did a decent job of recruiting last year, and expects the excitement generated over the conference switch to enhance his effort this winter.
Edsall said all those players from which he received an oral commitment remained on board. And why not?
“I would probably be more excited about coming here, playing against those big schools,” sophomore nose tackle Darius Kilgo said. “You get a lot of exposure for your team and individually. So it would be a good experience.”
Edsall intends to broaden his scope in terms of recruiting, branching out toward the middle of the country instead of staying on the East Coast.
“Now that we could end up playing in the Midwest, we’d be foolish not to recruit in those areas and have people come here to such a great University,” he said. “There might be some areas we were in that we might not have as much manpower, so we’ll recruit a little bit differently than we did before. You’ve got to go to some other areas now to attract quality student athletes to come help you get your program to where you want.
“But the bottom line is, the area we’ve got to control is the one right here at home, and that’s not going to change.”
When Edsall heard of the move to the Big Ten, he could barely contain his excitement.
“I was ecstatic. I thought it was a home run for the university and I thought it was great for the athletic department,” he said. “It really enhances this university academically and financially, and it helps the student-athletes in a big way. It will allow the athletic department to better serve and better fund the student athletes and their programs in terms of what they need.”
Until Maryland gets to the Big Ten, things are going to be a bit strange as it counts down toward the end of its membership in the ACC.
This week’s game in North Carolina, for instance, could be the football team’s final trip to Chapel Hill — ever.
“I guess it’s kind of historic in a sense, us being the last team,” wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said.
Guard Bennett Fulper, a senior, won’t be around when the Terps make the switch to the Big Ten. But he thinks they’ll do just fine.
“They’re going to be playing against some big-time teams. Obviously, you lose some of the tradition, but some choices have to be made and I think it’s going to be a good thing,” he said. “We’ve got great coaches here, we’ve got a great supporting cast. I feel that they’re going to do a great job of getting guys in here that can compete for many years to come.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)