Kevin Anderson had just gotten off Metro on Sunday night, headed to his car after the Maryland men’s basketball team lost to George Washington, when his phone buzzed with a voicemail from Steve Beck. It was around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday evening when the Terrapins athletic director formally learned the football team was headed to the Military Bowl.
Anderson knew the interest the Annapolis-based game had in Maryland and the feeling was mutual. Representatives from other bowl games had spoken to Anderson in press boxes throughout the season, standard protocol on the selection circuit, but Beck, the Military Bowl’s executive director, had pegged Maryland six months ago.
Besides, as the Terps labored through ACC play, dropping three straight and putting bowl eligibility in jeopardy, an invitation from those higher-profile bowls became less and less of a possibility. Maybe Shreveport was still in play, but anything above the AdvoCare V100 Bowl or the Military Bowl seemed unrealistic.
“We knew that they were interested in us staying home and playing in the Military Bowl,” Anderson said Monday by phone. “We were always fine with that. We’re very pleased that we’re going to the Military Bowl.”
Preparing to leave the Verizon Center tunnel after Maryland’s 77-75 loss to the Colonials, Anderson jokingly asked reporters where the Terps were headed for their bowl game. Turns out, he wasn’t so sure himself, even though Saturday’s results in various league championship games all but solidified the widespread assumption that Maryland would remain in-state over the holidays.
As Maryland planned for different scenarios, the athletics department projected strategies to avoid losing money regardless of destination. More expensive or distant locations would mean cutting back on non-essential personnel, like bringing a smaller pep band or cheerleading squad.
The Military Bowl payouts are $1 million per team, and though the ACC splits bowl revenue equally among members, Anderson expressed confidence Maryland will either “break even or capitalize and try to make some money.”
“I think we have a great chance of doing so,” he said.
But with bowl-week festivities in Washington D.C. – the team will begin staying at the Mayflower Hotel on Dec. 23 – Maryland won’t have to deal with the usual logistical headaches such as shipping equipment across the country in trucks. Instead, the Terps can practice at home, participate in normal festivities such as tours around the District and enjoy their complimentary PlayStation 4.
“My primary focus is making sure the student-athletes have the best experience possible,” Anderson said. “They’ll enjoy some things that they would at any bowl game, some things that will be special that any bowl team would experience.”
Tickets for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Dec. 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium are currently on sale for $50 and $75 for the general public, depending on seat location, or $50 and $20 for students. In 2010, playing in the same game, Maryland sold out its 10,000-ticket allotment before bowl week began. Even distribution may make it difficult for the Terps to enjoy a pseudo-home game, particularly against a Marshall team located across the West Virginia border, but Anderson expressed enthusiasm over the convenient travel situation.
“I’m sure our recruits particularly in the state of Maryland will be able to not only watch it on TV but attend the game,” Anderson said. “We hope to have a sellout crowd with all the bowl festivities. Particularly playing in front of the hometown fans and particularly for some of our seniors being able to go out on that note playing in their state, close to home, it’s going to be a great experience.”