Scott Van Pelt on Maryland’s move to the Big Ten

November 20, 2012

By Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post.

 

Scott Van Pelt likely has among the largest microphones of any Terps fans in the country. He also has a pretty good sense of where Maryland fans are on many issues, because he’s hung out with them on message boards and at tailgates, and because he’s been one of them for a long time.

And I think his lengthy discussion of the Big Ten move on his ESPN Radio show Monday afternoon will probably — with time — become the majority opinion among Maryland fans. To summarize: Van Pelt was sad, and angry, and nostalgic about the ACC that he grew up with — but also accepting that things change, and that the old ACC was already gone, and that payday and stability offered by the Big Ten were too much to ignore.

Aside from justifiable misgivings about procedural issues, seems to me a great many Maryland fans are already coming around to this point of view.

Excerpts of Van Pelt’s thoughts, which first appeared on Testudo Times and can be heard here.

“Much of my youth is framed by memories that are tied to the ACC. The great players, the colors, the fight songs, the mascots, the coaches. It’s a link to my youth. It’s a link to my dad, that was a Terp, who I grew up sitting next to in Cole and Byrd, who died when I was a student at Maryland. And like I’ve often said on this show, I am an ACC guy. 

“As of this morning, after nearly 60 years as a charter member of the ACC, Maryland heads to the Big Ten. I have heard it said that soldiers who lose a limb in battle said they can still feel the sensation of that limb that they lost years before, and I am admittedly nostalgic about the ACC. And I admittedly feel genuine sorrow today about this. And that’s the right word. It’s sorrow. And I’m not trying to be melodramatic, but I feel sorrow.

“But I realize that what I feel nostalgic about is something that was lost a long time ago….Syracuse and Pitt are coming to the league and that means that going forward, Maryland was guaranteed in basketball two home-and-homes: with Pitt and Virginia. Now I don’t mean any disrespect to Pittsburgh, but they don’t mean any more to Maryland than Maryland means to them. And that was supposed to be our rival, going forward?

And speaking of rivals — or, not our rival — so many Maryland folks now are lamenting the loss of what we would call The Duke Game. And let’s remember, folks: that’s a school that doesn’t see Maryland the way Maryland sees them. But besides that larger point, in the immediate future, there’d be far more years in basketball where you would not have a home game against Duke than years that you would.

So what it feels like is today, people are having a funeral for something that in many ways died a long time ago. None of which is reason to walk away from the ACC, but it’s at least context to consider what the Big Ten provides my school. They famously talked about 27 teams — they had 27 programs. As was well-documented, that was too many. They ran into some issues on the money front.

“And this provides an infusion of money. A HUGE infusion of money. The numbers the Big Ten was throwing around, I don’t think anybody imagined….and for an athletic department that was largely living check-to-check, this had to happen….

“It’s really strange to emotionally think about transitioning to something else, but I see the positives. As I told our athletic director Kevin Anderson as we spoke throughout this process, look, I love the ACC, but I love Maryland more. And if this is good for Maryland then I’m on board. And I’m assured that that’s the case.

So that tempers the sorrow that I feel. And as Lefty Driesell used to famously say, ‘I’m not gonna get caught lookin’ in the rearview. I’m lookin’ out the windshield.’ And as I look out the windshield, I see very different terrain ahead. But with the terrain in college athletics that are shifting, it’s like sand beneath a lot of people’s feet. I feel like the Big Ten and commissioner Delany — who seems to be playing chess to some others’ checkers — I feel like there’s a bedrock beneath Maryland….

“It’s weird, but I get it….I hate it. But I get it.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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