End of football rivalry with Virginia brings bittersweet memories for Maryland

Maryland football team seen earlier this season before facing Florida International University.
Maryland football team seen earlier this season before facing Florida International University.(Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

— The shouts of joy emanating from the visitors' locker room were loud enough to be heard in the tunnel at Scott Stadium.

It was November 2010 and Maryland had just defeated Virginia, which had won eight of the previous nine meetings in Charlottesville, Va.. The Terps were pouring water on each other's heads in celebration. Given the players' enthusiasm, you might have thought it was champagne.


Beating the Cavaliers — as Maryland has done 43 times in a 77-game series that began in 1919 — was usually cause for an extra measure of rejoicing.

The Terps have played Virginia more than any other football opponent. The Maryland-Virginia border-state rivalry — which ends for the foreseeable future with Saturday's meeting at Byrd Stadium — never rose to the level of Ohio State-Michigan or Alabama-Auburn. The teams weren't prominent enough for that.


But the Cavaliers (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) — along with nonconference opponent West Virginia — are the closest the Terps (4-1, 0-1 ACC) have come in recent years to a football rival that inspires healthy animosity in their fan base.

Years ago, Maryland fans wore buttons reading: "Virginia is for Losers," with an upside-down heart pictured on the front.

"Hoo cares?" read another anti-Virginia button that sought to mock the team's unofficial nickname, the Wahoos.

The buttons — artifacts of a disappearing era — are displayed, along with other memorabilia, inside Comcast Center.

Memorable games in the series included the Terps' 35-30 comeback win over a ranked Cavaliers team in 1990, and Virginia's 18-17 victory in 2007 in which reserve running back Mikell Simpson scored the winning touchdown to cap a 90-yard drive with 16 seconds left.

The teams have played every year since 1957.

"It's definitely a big-time rivalry," said defensive lineman Zeke Riser, who transferred to Maryland from Houston. "It's important to a lot of the guys, especially the guys who are from this area."

Virginia wide receiver Darius Jennings, who was recruited by Maryland while playing at Gilman, said he has bittersweet feelings about Saturday's game.

"It's two great schools, a great rivalry, being from Maryland it's a little more special to me when we play," Jennings said Wednesday. "I guess certain situations have to come to an end, but I'm going to come one more time and play before family and friends and have a good time."

With Maryland's entrance into the Big Ten next season, the Terps and Cavaliers are not scheduled to play again. Maryland's schedule is set through at least 2019.

Such regional rivalries are often a casualty of conference switches.

"That is a negative byproduct of realignment," said athletic director Oliver Luck of West Virginia, which moved to the Big 12 before the 2012 season. "On the flip side, our decision to go to the Big 12 means we are in a much more stable conference than we were in the past."


Luck has moved to retain or restore popular regional games. West Virginia recently announced a new nonconference series with Penn State. Luck said he has talked to Maryland about resuming a Terps-Mountaineers series that drops off the schedule after 2017.

Maryland moves from eight to nine conference games in 2016, meaning there will be less opportunity to schedule Virginia, even if both schools are willing.

"You know, I think rivalry games are great," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said Wednesday. "I think it adds to the experience of what college football is all about."

But Edsall said: "As far as our future scheduling goes, there's going to be limited opportunities for us to be able to play a lot of different people based on the number of games that we'll be playing in our conference. Those are discussions that I'm sure will take place between myself and [athletic director] Kevin Anderson."

ACC members were asked over the summer by The Baltimore Sun whether they would consider adding Maryland to their nonconference schedules — in any sport — after the Terps depart.Their response? Plenty of silence.

Maryland does have football games scheduled in 2014 and 2019 with Syracuse, a new ACC member this season.

Virginia coach Mike London declined Wednesday to rule out the possibility of future games with the Terps.

London said it's an annual game that players from Virginia, Maryland and Washington "always look forward to playing." Virginia has 15 players on this season's roster from Maryland.

"I guess that [scheduling Maryland] is always in the realm of possibility," London said. "If you look at the schedules, the conference affiliations and things like that, who knows what's going to happen down the line?"

Notes: There was no word yet on whether Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown (concussion) will play Saturday or if backup Caleb Rowe will start…Maryland wants to be sure its offensive linemen weren't telegraphing run or pass plays in last week's 63-0 loss to Florida State by shifting their stances in certain ways. "That's a pretty basic premise that as an offensive lineman, your stance has to be consistent," offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said.


Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.

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