Bob Turgeon was leaving a Sunday church service near his home in Lincoln, Neb., recently when a fellow parishioner asked him about the red golf shirt he was wearing. It wasn't the color of the shirt that puzzled the man, since the University of Nebraska teams wear red. It was the logo embroidered onto it.
"Several people at church know that Mark's my son, but there's one guy that I talk to once in a while and he never did know why I had Maryland shirts on," the elder Turgeon recalled. "Where I play golf during the summer, they always ask me if the only thing I have are Maryland shirts."
The allegiance of Bob Turgeon and others connected to the fifth-year Maryland men's basketball coach and his team won't be questioned when they gather at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln tonight for a second straight year, many of them putting aside their normal rooting interests to cheer for the fourth-ranked Terps.
A year ago, more than 20 family members and friends gathered there to watch Maryland secure a 64-61 victory when Dez Wells hit a long jumper with a little more than a second remaining.
Depending on the weather — winter storm Kayla was expected to bring about eight inches of snow Tuesday — there could be even more in attendance tonight. Doug Simon, who joined the family when his mother married Turgeon's father many years ago, will be pulling for Maryland despite his deep ties to the Cornhuskers.
Simon graduated from Nebraska, as did his wife, two of their sons and three of his brothers. His daughter, Maddie, the state's Gatorade High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year last winter, is now a freshman on the Nebraska women's team.
"Nebraska runs deep in our veins," Simon said Monday. "When the Terps play, blood is thicker than water. There's definitely one day a year when we cheer Mark's team on. When he coached [Texas] A&M, we were cheering for A&M."
While Simon and other family members try to not make their temporary switch in allegiance too noticeable during games, sometimes it gets difficult.
In 2009, when Texas A&M came from 18 points down in the second half to win on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Josh Carter — a shot Turgeon recently compared to Melo Trimble's game-winning shot at Wisconsin last month — Simon recalled "the whole family kind of jumped up and yelled."
Simon, who has Nebraska football season tickets, said, "I want to see Nebraska [basketball] do well — I hate to have divided loyalties for this game. But I want to see Mark's team do well. He's worked long and hard to get the team where it is. He loves his team, which is pretty cool."
After last year's game at Nebraska, Turgeon had each of his players introduce themselves to his mother, Linda Wittman, who made the 250-mile drive from her home near Wichita, Kan., where the family lived when he was growing up. Each player gave Turgeon's mother a hug.
"I think the players kind of see me as an old man," Turgeon, who will turn 51 on Friday, said. "I did the hug for my mom because she's always in the background and doesn't get the attention the rest of my family gets."
Members of the family, as well as a small but loyal network of friends, seem to show up at nearly every stop Maryland makes in the Big Ten.
Turgeon's wife, Ann, said her mother, Margaret Ann Fowler, drives with friends all over the Midwest from her home outside Chicago to follow the Terps. Fowler had her own conflict this season when Maryland won at Northwestern, where she is a program director for nonprofit groups at the prestigious Kellogg Business School.
When Turgeon took over Wichita State in 2000 after starting his head coaching career at Jacksonville State in Alabama, he was able to have family members around constantly. That continued at Texas A&M when his team played nearby Big 12 games at Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
"I think when you grow up in a close family, even though his parents were divorced, they were all pretty tight and he just doesn't know any other way," said Ann Turgeon, who met her future husband when he was a graduate assistant at Kansas and she was a basketball team manager.
Turgeon said including his family in his success as a college basketball coach is done to keep close to his parents and four siblings. As the middle child, Turgeon said, he was often involved with his brother, Jim, who is two years older, as well as his three sisters.
"I was lucky, I had a great mom and dad, I had a great brother and sisters that allowed me to be me," Turgeon said. "They knew I had a passion for basketball, my whole family played basketball. They were always happy for me and always let me chase my dreams."
Said Jim Turgeon, who is in his first season as the women's coach at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo after a successful eight-year stint at a junior college in Iowa: "It's important to him to have good balance between family and his job. It's always been that way."
Teddy Owens, the director of basketball operations at Nebraska, saw that first-hand when Turgeon and his wife and children were in Lincoln two summers ago visiting his father and stepmother. Owens, whose father, Ted, recruited Turgeon to Kansas, invited the Turgeons to see Nebraska's facilities, including its state-of-the-art arena.
"Coaches move around a lot, it's like being in the military, and to have your family around like that is pretty special," the younger Owens said Tuesday.
Ben Meseke, who coached Turgeon more than 30 years ago at Hayden Catholic, was part of the large group at Nebraska last season and was able to go to three other games because Turgeon scheduled the Terps to play in a tournament in Kansas City as well as at Oklahoma State. Meseke subscribes to the Big Ten Network in order to follow his former point guard.
Often, Meseke will see Turgeon's family members seated behind the bench.
"We'll sit here and watch the game on TV and I'll turn to my wife and say, 'There's Bob,'" he said. "When we went to Oklahoma State [last season], I met some of his family down there that I had never seen or heard about before."
Bob Turgeon, who went to several games at Xfinity Center earlier this season while spending two weeks with his son and family at their Montgomery County home, said he tries to contain himself during games as much as he can. That changes when he is watching at home in Lincoln, where he has lived for 13 years.
"When I'm in my little room here at home with my TV set, I get a little rowdy," the elder Turgeon said.
His mother, Wittman, appreciated the hugs from the Terps after last year's Nebraska game.
"It makes me emotional, she was so touched by that," Ann Turgeon said. "She's coming out Friday to our house for Mark's birthday for five days. She's never been to our house [the family moved in November of 2014]. She doesn't travel very often. She's a homebody."
The rest of the family, as well as a small but loyal network of friends, more than makes up for it.
Though his brother now coaches 600 miles away rather than the 60 that allowed him to make last year's Nebraska game, two of Turgeon's sisters are expected to be in attendance tonight along with a few of their children. "I don't want them driving [from Kansas City] if the roads are bad," Turgeon said as he monitored the approaching storm.
Ann Turgeon goes on the road occasionally, depending on their three children's busy schedules. The family went to Mexico in November for the Cancun Challenge. Mark Turgeon will bring his children with him on the road, typically one at a time. A lot has to do with the coach's many superstitions.
"They all went on the road last year and they all won," Ann Turgeon said.
Leo Turgeon, the youngest, got to go to Michigan State for Maryland's Big Ten debut last season. The Terps won in double overtime. When older son Will expected to have a snow day for winter storm Jonas, he joined his dad for this year's game in East Lansing, Mich.
"Mark thought that taking Leo was a good omen and this year he took Will," Ann Turgeon said. "It didn't turn out that well."
"When we were about to play at Ohio State Sunday, I told Mark they didn't ask for tickets, they're not coming," Ann Turgeon said. "He said, 'Thank God, we lost last year.' Then they didn't go and we won."