Maryland coach John Tillman just wrapped up his weekly conference call Tuesday morning and reiterated that Wednesday night’s home contest against UMBC at Byrd Stadium in College Park will still go on as planned despite forecasts calling for as much as eight inches for the Washington, D.C. area.
“We’re monitoring it,” he said. “We’ve had discussions with our facilities people. We’re doing everything in our power to play the game, yet obviously, be sensitive to the weather and the safety of our student-athletes. We have extra people there to help clear the field to stay up and ahead of the snow to try to get that field cleared. We just don’t know what’s coming in. We’re just going to monitor reports as they come in, but our facilities people do a really good job. So I know we’ll be on top of it.”
Tillman, a Corning, N.Y. native and former coach at Harvard, joked that he’s never seen or heard so much media coverage or talk about an impending storm as he has this week, but he conceded that if the current projected models come to fruition, a difficult decision will have to be made.
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“I have great faith in our facilities people, but I do realize that there’s the TV people that have schedules, there’s people traveling to the game,” Tillman said of the contest, which is the debut of ESPNU’s Wednesday Game of the Week series. “Are we better off waiting as long as we can to try to get it in so that we don’t get scared off when we could’ve played it? If we know that it doesn’t look good, are we better off keeping people off the roads and maybe just saying, ‘Hey, it doesn’t look very good.’? I don’t have a timeframe and a lot of experience with this. So I’ve reached out to Coach [Don] Zimmerman [of UMBC], and I’ll talk to him this morning and just keep talking to our people.”
If the game is called off, trying to reschedule it could be just as tricky. Neither team could make up the game on a Saturday or Sunday, which would leave open the possibility of another midweek date. But with the Terps meeting Atlantic Coast Conference rivals on March 23 and 30 and the Retrievers tangling with America East foes on March 30 and April 6, 13, 19 and 27, one team would likely have to break up a week of preparation for a league opponent with a non-conference contest.
“That’s the hard thing about scheduling every year,” Tillman said. “Selfishly, you have your own team needs, but you also know there’s a guy on the other side and he has his own team needs. Much like any relationship, you’re trying to give and take, and it may not be perfect, but you hope you can find a way to make it work and you can live with it. I think the concern is always once you get into conference play in any sport, you’re really sensitive to how important those conference games are. Obviously, UMBC is in a conference where there’s an automatic qualifier and the top four teams make it. Do you want to play mid-week before that? And how much wear and tear do you want to put on your kids and how much prep time do you lose? So I’ll certainly try to work with Coach Zim to try to make it work. I know for our kids, they’re excited about playing a different opponent. They’d much rather play than practice.”