What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Pete at Testudo Times, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Maryland. The Big Ten officially welcomes Maryland (and Rutgers) as the newest members of the conference this week, so I thought it was time to get to know them a bit better.
1) Now that you're officially members of the Big Ten, what's the feeling like among your readers or the Maryand fanbase as a whole? How excited are you guys about playing Big Ten foes this year and visiting new stadiums and gyms for the first time? How sad are you to be leaving behind long-standing rivals in the ACC?
I get the feeling our readers are more optimistic than the fanbase as a whole, but from what I can tell everyone's excited to finally be here. There was certainly a degree of uncertainty when the move was first announced -- a lot of fans took great offense to the perceived sacrifice of tradition -- but as the Big Ten has continued to show its support for Maryland (support the school never got from the ACC), most fans have come around. In terms of excitement, the football stadiums are a huge draw. The Big Ten has some of the most storied playing fields in the nation, and being able to watch the Terps play at those stadiums year in year out is quite the enticing prospect. The long-standing rivals thing is a bit tricky. Duke and North Carolina were the big names in basketball, with Virginia holding a general spot of content in most Maryland fans' hearts, but the former two had each other to worry about and the latter never developed into the rivalry it should have. Most are excited for rivalries with Penn State and Rutgers to begin, especially in football, and moving to a deeper conference in both sports should present plenty of opportunities for other traditions to emerge.
2) What should we expect out of Maryland this year in football?
This should be the most competitive team of the Randy Edsall era, assuming they can keep their health in order. They have a sixth-year quarterback, a deep backfield and one of the top receiving corps in the country. The offensive line is a concern (and we all know that can derail an entire season), but they brought in two blue-chippers this past year to help there, including five-star tackle Damian Prince. The defense has improved each year under former Cowboys coordinator Brian Stewart, and they return almost every significant piece on that side of the ball. Mostly, expect Stefon Diggs to make a lot of appearances on highlight reels.
3) What should we expect out of Maryland this year in basketball?
That's a bit more of a question mark. Mark Turgeon's tenure at Maryland has been decidedly up-and-down, with a swing towards the down side of things in recent times. Maryland graduated no seniors this past season but still managed to lose five rotation players to transfer. They've replaced many of those parts, bringing in a stellar freshman class that includes McDonald's All-American Melo Trimble and four other four-star recruits (including two seven-footers). The big piece, Georgia Tech transfer power forward Robert Carter, won't be available until next season, but Maryland could finally make that run at the tournament.
4) Can you give us a brief overview of some of your non-revenue sports? Football and men's basketball are the big kahunas, obviously, but what else is Maryland especially good at? What sports do you expect to make an impact in right away in the Big Ten?
Maryland has a rich non-revenue sport tradition, and they're usually good for about one national championship a year. This year it was women's lacrosse -- a common culprit -- but men's lacrosse, men's soccer, field hockey and even baseball (traditionally one of the Terps' weaker sports) made deep postseason runs this year. Those first four are the big four, but wrestling is also quite good (and ready for the Big Ten challenge).
5) What's a unique school tradition -- official or otherwise -- that people might not know about about Maryland?
We have a lot of turtle statues on campus, and students rub their noses for good luck (specifically the one outside the main library). There's one at the entrance to the football field, too, so players take part.
6) Finally, are you ready to be hazed? Newbies gotta get hazed.
BRING IT. I'll be in the comments to answer any questions or be the subject of any hazing.
EDIT: Again, don't forget to head over to Testudo Times to catch up on all things Maryland.
Thanks for being a good sport, Pete, although I still hope your team loses by 50 when they play Iowa this year. You can check out Pete and the rest of the TT crew at Testudo Times. You can also follow Pete on Twitter at @Pete_Volk and TT at @testudotimes.