Last week we looked at Rutgers; today it's time to look at the Big Ten's other new playmate, Maryland. Should we learn to FEAR THE TURTLE?
2012 RECORD: 4-8
5-YEAR RECORD: 25-37 (0.403)
10-YEAR RECORD: 60-63 (0.488)
COACH: Randy Edsall
MASCOT: Maryland adopted the "Terrapins" nickname in 1932 after the school newspaper, "The Diamondback" called for a new name. (Previously, Maryland sports teams were called "The Old Liners," a nod to the state's nickname as "The Old Line State.") They settled on "terrapins" in honor of the diamondback terrapins indigenous to the region (and also the state reptile of Maryland). The more you know. While a live turtle was used as a model, the original Testudo was a 300-lb. bronze statue; when that proved to be vulnerable to being painted, defaced, and kidnapped, the university took more extreme measures and filled the statue with 700 lbs. of concrete. In addition, since the '70s, their sidelines have been patrolled by a giant anthropomorphic turtle, also named Testudo. While ostensibly friendly, those eyes are frankly a bit creepy-looking. He has starred in a "This is SportsCenter" ad, though, which puts him one up on Herky.
BOWL RECORDS, CONFERENCE TITLES, AND OTHER SIGNS OF SUCCESS
Maryland has an 11-11-2 record in bowl games (and don't think Randy Edsall isn't deeply resentful of the fact that he can't add to that tally of ties), with their most recent appearance being a 51-20 win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl in 2010. They've appeared in seven bowl games since 2000, with the highlight being a 2002 Orange Bowl berth after winning the ACC in 2001. (The game itself did not go well; Florida drilled them, 56-23.) They also appeared in the Peach Bowl after the 2002 season and the Gator Bowl following the 2003 season. Prior to that '02 Orange Bowl bid, Maryland's last appearance in a major bowl game was the 1977 Cotton Bowl, a 30-21 loss to Houston.
The heyday of Maryland football was undoubtedly the 1950s; Maryland claims national titles in 1951 and 1953 and went to the Sugar Bowl in 1952 and the Orange Bowl in 1954 and 1956. Success tends to happen in bunches for the Terps, when it happens; in addition to those early '50s golden years, Maryland won a trio of ACC titles from 1974-76 and again from 1983-85. Since '85, they've won one conference title (in 2001).
The '90s were a dark decade for Maryland football -- they had just two winning seasons (1990, 1995) and went through three different coaches (Joe Krivak, Mark Duffner, and Ron Vanderlinden). In fact, since Iowa hired Hayden Fry, Maryland has had seven different head coaches -- the aforementioned trio, plus Jerry Claiborne, Bobby Ross, Ralph Friedgen, and Randy Edsall. The most successful by far was Friedgen, who immediately took the Terrapins to great heights (they went 10-2 and won the ACC in his first year, 2001) and spent the rest of his tenure trying to live up to that success. Unfortunately, after going 31-8 from 01-03, Friedgen never again won 10 games at Maryland and had four losing seasons. He followed his worst season with the Terps, a 2-10 stinkbomb in 2009, with a 9-4 outing in 2010, but was shown the door anyway. He was replaced by UConn head coach Randy Edsall, a man whose all-consuming blandness and conservatism makes Kirk Ferentz look like the mythical ghost pepper of college football head coaches. Edsall has gone just 6-18 at his "dream job" and, barring significant improvement in 2013, will probably not be Maryland's head coach when they enter the Big Ten in 2014.
HISTORY WITH IOWA
Like Rutgers, Maryland has never played Iowa. Not once. So that's fun! They last played a current member of the Big Ten in 2006, when they played Purdue in the hallowed Champs Sports Bowl. Maryland won, 24-7. That win was a rare one for Maryland against B1G foes, though; historically, Maryland is 4-44-1 against current members of the Big Ten. Granted, most of those games are against Penn State (they're 1-35-1 against PSU all-time), but they're also 0-2 against Indiana. Yes, Indiana.
COMPETITIVE FIT WITH THE BIG TEN
As noted, Maryland was terrible in the '90s before becoming a surprise ACC powerhouse in the early '00s under Friedgen. Those days are long gone, though, and Maryland has since suck back to the dark, silty bottom of the ACC. They did manage to double their win total in year two under Edsall, but that just meant they went from 2 wins to 4 wins. Four of their losses were by a touchdown or less (although, for that matter, so were three of their four wins), but they also got blown apart by Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Florida State in the final month of the season. They were a long way from being a top-tier ACC team and maybe not even that close to being a middle-of-the-pack ACC team.
Randy Edsall is a duller, even more conservative coach than Ferentz and his player retention rates at Maryland make Iowa's recent attrition problems look like nothing. That said, Maryland does have its own version of an uber-booster like Phil Knight or T. Boone Pickens in Under Armour founder Kevin Plank and if they're able to use their B1G monies to stabilize their financially-underwater athletic department, upgrade facilities, and find a coach who can keep the talent in the mid-Atlantic region to stay home, they could emerge as a threat in the Big Ten. That's a lot of "ifs," though, and probably a long time in the offing in a best case scenario. The Maryland that joins the Big Ten in 2014 is far more likely to be a team that ranks near the bottom of the league.
SO WHAT'S THIS DO FOR IOWA?
See: Rutgers, basically. Like Rutgers, Maryland sits in an area that Iowa has targeted fairly extensively as a secondary recruiting region in recent years (Marcus Coker, Darian Cooper, and Jordan Lomax all came to Iowa from prep powerhouse DeMatha Catholic, and Nico Law came from nearby Bishop McNamara) and the same pluses and minuses re: recruiting that applied to Rutgers also apply to Maryland. (Although Maryland can't sell itself as a program on the upswing as easily as Rutgers, which may make it easier to poach recruits from there with the added B1G exposure.) Competitively speaking, adding Maryland doesn't do much for Iowa, although it does bring the promise of road trips to nearby Washington, D.C. and the opportunity to mix brats and crab cakes at your tailgate.
NEXT: Rutgers basketball!