RALEIGH, N.C. — It was neither football nor basketball season, but college athletics was very much in the news.
Seven schools were bolting one conference and preparing to form another. The college sports landscape was in the midst of a highly publicized shake-up.
It was the spring of 1953. The name of the new league was the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Sixty years ago, Maryland was among seven schools to leave the Southern Conference and gamble that the new league would succeed
On Saturday, Maryland plays it last football game in the ACC, a conference born from, and shaped by, realignment. The Terps will play in the Big Ten Conference next year.
"There's people that have been here for a lot longer than I have, [but] it's been a great ride," said Maryland coach Randy Edsall, who is in his third season at the school. "It's been a lot of fun, I'm sure, for our student-athletes who have competed in the ACC. It's been rewarding for both the institution and the conference. It'll be time to move on after this game and look forward."
The Terps (6-5, 2-5 ACC), who face North Carolina State (3-8, 0-7), are departing quietly.
Players have been wearing a small decal on the backs of their helmets that reads, "ACC Farewell Season." Last week, the Maryland marching band spelled out "ACC" on the field at halftime of the Terps' 29-27 loss to Boston College at Byrd Stadium. Maryland released a poster last week featuring dozens of "Gameday" program covers with the heading: "Honoring 61 Years of ACC Football History."
Maryland is ending its ACC schedule against a team it has played 69 times dating to 1909. In the ACC, only Virginia has been a more frequent opponent (78 games) of the Terps.
"It's probably the last time we'll ever play this team, definitely in the regular season," Maryland linebacker Matt Robinson (Atholton) said. "I'd like to finish off on a winning note."
But Terps players are focused far more on bowl positioning than nostalgia.
Representatives from the Military Bowl and AdvoCare V100 Bowl attended Saturday's Maryland-Boston College game to scout both teams.
There are already more bowl-eligible teams from the ACC (10) than bowl games with tie-ins to the conference (eight). Florida State could play for the national title, and Clemson could receive an at-large Bowl Championship Series bid. If it defeats Boston College on Saturday, Syracuse will become the 11th bowl-eligible team from the conference.
If Maryland loses to the Wolfpack, it could end up playing as an at-large entry in a bowl game that is not tied to the ACC.
After missing out on a bowl the past two seasons, Maryland's postseason prospects are far more pressing to the Terps than the significance of their final ACC contest.
"I don't think it's hit anyone yet" that this is the school's last ACC game, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown said. "I think it's something that we'll reflect on [later]."
MARYLAND (6-5, 2-5 ACC) vs. NORTH CAROLINA STATE (3-8, 0-7 ACC)
When: 12:30 p.m.
Site: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.
Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Series: N.C. State leads 33-32-4
Last meeting: N.C. State defeated Maryland, 20-18, on Oct. 20, 2012, in College Park.
Maryland offense vs. N..C. State defense: Maryland's last visit to N.C. State hardly could have been more memorable, at least for the Wolfpack. Trailing by 27 points in the third quarter, N.C. State rallied for a 56-41 victory — its greatest-ever comeback — in 2011. The closest that this year's Wolfpack team has come to an ACC victory was a 27-19 loss to North Carolina. Quarterback C.J. Brown ran for a touchdown in a loss to Boston College last week and reached 400 rushing yards for the season, moving into third place on the school's single-season rushing list. Defensive end Art Norman has 4.5 sacks to lead the Wolfpack.
Maryland defense vs. N..C. State offense: Maryland surrendered 263 rushing yards to Boston College's Andre Williams, the nation' leading rusher. The Terps rank seventh in the ACC in rushing defense (150.2 yards per game) and are tied for fourth in sacks (2.82 per game). Wolfpack quarterback Brandon Mitchell had career highs with 312 yards and four touchdown passes in last week's 42-28 loss to East Carolina.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun