WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — University of Maryland celebrated its impending move to the Big Ten Conference, which became official at 12:01 a.m. this morning, with a Maryland/Big Ten Network block party at The Fairgrounds at Nationals Park Monday evening.
On hand were Maryland football and basketball coaches Randy Edsall and Mark Turgeon, school president Wallace D. Loh, athletic director Kevin Anderson and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.
Photos: Big Ten Cheerleaders Unite!
“I think it’s one of those things where we all believe in what we’re doing. I think by showing that unity, it’s good for our fans. Transition is not easy. Now the easy part starts,” said Turgeon. “We’ve gone through, really, the hard part to get to this point. Now you’re in a league that wants you.”
The excitement was certainly evident, as fans of Maryland and other Big Ten schools made the rounds, taking photos with cheerleaders and the various mascots representing each school in the conference. And that excitement, Anderson says, has translated into tangible monetary value.
“We want to see they’re excited,” he said of Terps fans. “And I’ll tell you, there’s one figure I that I can give you right now that shows people are excited about the move, that we’re up twenty-five percent selling football season tickets from last year, so if that’s any indication of what’s here to come, we’re just happy being here and we’re excited to be a member of the Big Ten.”
“This is a milestone for the University of Maryland, in terms of both athletics and academics,” said Loh.
“We really appreciate all the work that our coaches have done – our athletic staff, our faculty, too, with the Big Ten – because this is a campus-wide integration, so we are very, very excited about this,” he said. “I think this is a bright for the University of Maryland, again, for both athletics and academics.”
When his attention was directed to the Big Ten Conference football and basketball championship trophies, then asked how long it will be before one is hoisted by the Terrapins, responded, “Look, all of the Big Ten teams are gonna learn to Fear the Turtle as soon as they arrive to College Park.”
Edsall was undoubtedly thrilled with the turnout yesterday, and the general support from Terps fans as they let go of Maryland’s 61-year history as a charter member of the ACC, which was founded in 1953.
“I think what happens is, anytime something happens where you have a change, people always react emotionally,” Edsall said. “And you can understand, when you’ve been with something for 61 years, and all of a sudden you’re going somewhere else, you can understand those emotions.”
“But I think now that everybody had the time to really digest it, and see what the Big Ten was gonna bring to the university, academically as well as athletically, they see that this was the right move,” he said. “And I haven’t gotten anybody, since about the first maybe two months, thinking it was a bad move. Everybody’s on board, and everybody’s really looking forward to being a part of the Big Ten now. ”
Although, as Edsall would go on to note, there are concerns raised with being a member of the Big Ten, with regard to the number of alumni of other schools in the conference currently living in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Maryland, simply put, when it comes to football, has struggled in recent years to fill Byrd Stadium.
“Well, you know, again, the Big Ten to me is a great conference, but it’s known as a football conference,” Edsall said. “And one of the things that I know the fans here were clamoring for, basically, was a tougher schedule. Well, we’ve got it, so they should make sure they buy the tickets and get out there, because if they don’t, the visiting teams will be coming in here with 20/25,000 people, and we don’t want that.”
“And when you take a look at the division that we’re in – with us, and Rutgers, and Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana – I mean, that’s as tough as it gets, throughout the country,” he added. “And then you cross over, this year, with Iowa and Wisconsin – it’s challenging, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun preparing and getting after those teams.”
And of course, the Maryland cheerleaders.