By tonight, when Maryland accepts its bid to play Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl, the points I am about to make might be moot. But as much as I believe Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow that the football team had no choice but to take a trip to Boise rather than stay home and play Navy in the EagleBank Bowl, I have a gnawing feeling that it's not the whole story.
In talking with Yow last week, I can understand her point about how the Dec. 20 game at RFK Stadium in Washington conflicts with the school's final exam schedule and that as many as 25 players would be impacted. One thing Yow did say was that the only time exceptions that were made were in the event of an ACC championship game or an NCAA championship game.
If there is wiggle room then, why can't Maryland figure out a way to do it now?
I think it's more because they don't want to play in a game designated for the ACC's No. 9 team and that they don't want to play Navy. That's a lose-lose situation for the Terps, or so they think. But Maryland had its chances to play in a more prestigious bowl game, and blew them by losing to Florida State and Boston College.
As for playing Navy, I think you can make a case for the Midshipmen having a better season than Maryland. They both beat Wake Forest, the team it appears Navy will likely play again in the EagleBank Bowl. Maryland's embarrassing losses -- to Middle Tennessee and Virginia -- were worse than Navy's one blowout defeat -- to Pittsburgh.
Here's another reason Maryland should have stayed home to play Navy -- do you think many Terp fans are going to shell out $1,000 to go to Boise for a few days, rather than pay probably $100 (less if they take the Metro or the MARC train) if they play in D.C? A year ago, the athletic department lost around $60,000 for the team's trip to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl. It probably would be less expensive for the team to go to Boise, but what's the point of playing a bowl game when very few of your fans will be there?
I have spoken with a number of Maryland season-ticket holders who are ready to give up following both football and basketball because of the mediocrity of the respective programs, and this decision doesn't make them want to renew for next season. The Navy players who actually pay attention to this situation think the Terps just don't want to have to face the Midshipmen until their next scheduled game -- the 2010 season opener in Baltimore.
I told one of them about the finals conflict.
"What, we don't take finals?" he asked, smiling. "Anybody there taking Quantitative Economics?"
Obviously not, because if they were, somebody would figure how much Maryland would be losing by going to Boise.
And I'm not talking just money.