COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland football team's now-infamous handshake snubbing, the low point of a 20-19 win over Penn State earlier this month, has been addressed privately and publicly.
Amends were made before the Nov. 1 game was even over, with Terps athletic director Kevin Anderson apologizing in person to Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and president Eric J. Barron.
Later, Maryland coach Randy Edsall began his postgame news conference by sharing his own apology and expressing regret and embarrassment over the decision of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, safety Sean Davis and tight end P.J. Gallo not to shake hands with the Nittany Lions' game captains before the pregame coin toss.
Anderson then publicly apologized, saying he was "disappointed" in the actions of the Terps captains. After the Big Ten Conference issued Edsall a public reprimand, the university a $10,000 fine and Diggs a one-game suspension for his role in a skirmish that preceded the coin toss, the fourth-year coach again shared his disappointment in his team's actions.
Two weeks later, the Terps have moved on, and members of the athletic department say there are no concerns over a similarly regrettable situation arising as Maryland prepares for a prime-time game against No. 12 Michigan State on Saturday night in College Park.
"The Big Ten has handled the situation," Edsall said. "We've handled the situation. Our kids know they made a mistake. Not how they should have handled themselves, and they will make a better decision in the future."
Many, if not most, Maryland fans seem to feel the same way.
Bruce Posner is a long-time Terps fan who hosts Maryland-related radio shows on 1300 AM. Even immediately after the game, Posner felt the win over Penn State overshadowed anything that happened before kickoff. He said that the pregame situation is not a concern going forward because of the leadership of Anderson and Edsall, an old-school coach who preaches the importance of academics, discipline and accountability.
"The real, true Maryland football fans would never excuse something like that," Posner said, "but there's so much resentment that built up over the years with Penn State, with the constant talking about the 1-35 record against Penn State [before Nov. 1] and some of the things that coach [James] Franklin said about Baltimore's his territory [in recruiting]. And I don't know how to say it. It was wrong, but I don't think by any means the incident diminishes the victory."
Maryland senior Brian Borucki said he feels as though the incident added to the emotion and energy of the game against Penn State and could help build a rivalry with the Nittany Lions.
Penn State players appeared to go through the Terps' area of the Beaver Stadium field after Maryland exited the locker room. A confrontation between the two teams, and then the handshake snafu, quickly followed.
"I thought maybe we could revive that rivalry, and I thought we kind of did that," said Borucki, a Columbia native who made the trip to Penn State for the game. "I think we kind of showed that we're not going to be walked over anymore. So truthfully, if it wasn't my team, I might have been a little upset with it. But since they are my team, I'm cool with it. I support them."
This was the second incident for which Maryland has been disciplined by the Big Ten. In October, men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski was suspended one game and fined $10,000 in October for his actions toward officials after a controversial overtime loss to Northwestern.
Maryland's athletic department has dealt with few issues involving student-athletes in recent years. The football program's Athletic Progress Rate (APR) has reached all-time highs since Edsall took over as coach in 2011. The football team's APR, which measures eligibility and retention, increased its multiyear score from 922 (2009-2010) to 950 (2012-2013) and its single-year score from 905 to 977. Both are program bests since the APR's inception in 2003.
"It would be unfair to label them" for what happened at Penn State, said former Terps and NFL standout Shawne Merriman. "An entire program shouldn't get a bad rap for a couple guys making a mistake. And I know, talking to Coach Edsall and talking to Kevin Anderson, how much they preach to guys about staying on top of academics and doing the right thing."
Other Maryland alumni, such as former Terps quarterback Stan Gelbaugh, had a more lighthearted response to the Penn State situation. Gelbaugh was with the Terps for four straight losses to Penn State during the mid-1980s. He started Maryland's 20-18 loss to the Nittany Lions at Byrd Stadium in 1985.
"If I knew it took not shaking their hands to beat Penn State when I was there," Gelbaugh said, "I might not have done it, either."