Look how happy Randy Edsall is. Look how happy Stefon Diggs is. You can be this happy, too. (G Fiume/Getty Images)
By Martin Rickman
Throughout the preseason, Campus Union is providing a service: It will present one team from each of the six BCS automatic-qualifying conferences to root for in 2013. There is no scientific formula to these selections, but they do take into account some mix of watchability, intrigue, oddity and, of course, fun. The series continues with the ACC and Maryland.
It’s strange how it happened; in the span of mere months, Maryland went from a team that generated minimal national reaction (trust me, there were some haters) to a team that represented everything wrong with realignment. After accepting an invitation to join the Big Ten, the Terps withstood a barrage of backlash: “They are leaving the ACC for money!” “Their football coach is like some kind of military drill sergeant!” “What about tradition, no really, what about tradition?”
ELLIS: ACC 2013 conference preview
Like anything else, it’s not that simple. Maryland, like other programs that jump from one conference to another, is simply trying to stay competitive. Mistakes made in the past forced it to evaluate its options, and sometimes those options came with complications. If a school doesn't make the necessary moves, it risks tumbling into nothingness; if it breaks free from what it's done in the past, it risks alienating some people along the way.
So, this is me saying: I support you Maryland. It’s your last season in the ACC, and I hope you do great. Here are some other reasons to adopt the Terps as an ACC team in 2013.
Randy Edsall really isn’t as tough as he seems
In fact, the Terps' third-year coach has got a lot of jokester in him, whether he likes to admit as much publicly or not. How else could you explain the fact he doesn’t drink coffee, only tea? Or Rockin’ Randy’s very own ice cream? Or the fact that he was photographed on a magazine cover eating what amounts to a metric ton of crabs?
Or that he gets all dressed up to go on a bike ride?
Edsall is not without blame in a lot of the public scorn directed toward the Terrapins. But he should be judged based on his win-loss record and product on the field, just like any other coach. Let’s just enjoy Rangoon and hop along for the ride.
The Terps have an Australian kicker
And Australian kickers are the best:
[Brad] Craddock also joked around about the differences between Aussie Rules and American football - in Aussie Rules, everyone kicks and everyone tackles. When asked if he ever had the urge to get involved in the hitting during practice, however, he laughed.
"Seeing the size of them?" he said. "I'm pretty good. You miss that side of it, you miss not being able to contribute as much in a game, but that's the thing, that's my job. I've got to contribute the way I can. That's really my focus. I miss tackling, but you should watch me do the tackling drills. It's not pretty. So I'm good just staying behind, but you never know I might have to make another tackle on kick-off or something."
They also have a guy named Tyrek Cheeseboro
All-Name Team representatives are always a plus in Adopt-a-Team criteria. Cheeseboro is a redshirt sophomore who was given a hardship waiver his freshman season in 2011. After recovering from a concussion that impacted his '12 campaign, the wideout is expected to bolster a receiving corps that was largely Stefon Diggs and not much else a year ago.
And speaking of Diggs ...
There arguably isn’t a more can't-miss player in the ACC right now. Every time he touches the ball, he’s a threat to do something special, and he made Maryland (surprisingly) watchable at times last year:
I found myself switching over to Terps’ games at noon just for the chance to see Diggs catch a pass and turn it upfield, or return a kick, make a defender miss badly and transform what should have been a fair catch into a 30-yard return. As long as he stays healthy, his sophomore season should be a lot of fun. And having fun, as we all know, is extremely important.
The Terrapins do nice things sometimes
The school's financial trouble's are well documented, but it still directs $500,000 per year from its athletics budget to mental health counseling. From the Baltimore Sun, university president Wallace Loh said:
“Mental health issues is the number one issue among students across this whole country. Everybody is scrambling to increase mental health resources. So here’s an opportunity.”
I think this is great, and I’m sure more schools are doing something similar. But the fact that Maryland is, given its athletic debt, wasn't something I expected to see. And everyone who knows me knows how important mental health issues are to me.
Maryland’s motto this year is “Hold The Rope”
I’m not really sure what it means. But coach Edsall tried to explain:
It’s no “Row The Boat,” but it’s a start.
The uniforms, oh yes, the uniforms
Maryland is worth checking out just to see what the Terps wear from week to week. Whether it’s black ops:
Those two-face things:
You get the point. The uniforms are always interesting, and I’m on the record as being in favor of teams taking uniform risks, even if they backfire miserably.
Plus, there’s a player getting hurt and being out for the season for "horsing around" in his dorm. And there's Shawn Petty, who played quarterback out of necessity last year and is now expected to contribute as a linebacker on the defensive side of the ball. Petty exemplifies the old maxim that coaches love a guy who is willing to help the team out however he can.
I know Maryland is a tough sell. A lot of ACC fans don't to want to root for a team that is set to change conferences and currently on its farewell tour. That’s perfectly reasonable. I’m just saying give it a shot. You might like it.