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Terps move stealthily to Big Ten
When media members and boosters first began to hear rumors about Maryland joining the Big Ten, I think the reaction was disbelief.
That makes sense, because even some top Maryland officials had been privately skeptical when the Big Ten first showed interest. The officials had to warm to the idea and embrace the potential benefits.
Maryland, after all, was one of the founding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
I have a newspaper story from 1953 that says Maryland and six other schools were leaving the Southern Conference to pursue a new league. That was the birth of the ACC.
Sixty years. That's a long membership in anything. You acquire lots of memories and loyalty and momentum in such a time. It's like a marriage.
There was a sense of desperation as the media sought to confirm the Big Ten rumors in early November. Even ACC officials were trying to figure out if the rumors were true.
On the weekend of Nov. 17-18 -- before the school's application had been formally approved by the Big Ten -- a Maryland insider remarked to me that Terps fans would undoubtedly be pleased that Maryland and Penn State would be playing each other again in football. That's when I realized that this was assuredly going to happen.
There were so many memorable ACC games involving the Terps over the past 60 years in so many sports. Let's talk men's basketball. How about Juan Dixon ruining Duke's Senior Night in 2000-01? Or Jason Williams helping Duke erase a 10-point lead in the final minute? Or Lefty Driesell's guys (Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas) losing 103-100 to N.C. State in the 1974 ACC tournament championship game?
I know lots of Terps fans will remember other games -- and not just in basketball, of course -- that go a whole lot further back than that. You probably all have your favorites.
That's why Maryland president Wallace Loh was smart to note Maryland's and the ACC's shared history in his message to the university community announcing the Big Ten move, effective in July 2014.
"I understand that many devoted Terp fans may be stunned and disappointed at this news," Loh said. "I recognize and regret the sadness they may feel at our leaving the ACC. It is the passing of an era. To them, I ask only this: please understand that I am doing what I believe is best for the University of Maryland and all of its stakeholders."
It's not a bad thing to look back. You can't go in with the new until you've gone out with the old.
-- Jeff Barker
November 19, 2012