NCAA

Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer

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Maryland's move to the Big Ten was a no brainer

In the end it was a no-brainer.

When the University of Maryland Board of Regents voted overwhelmingly Monday morning to accept the official invitation to join the Big Ten conference, there were plenty of opinions. Most of the naysayers were traditionalists that pointed to 60 years of tradition as a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and traditional rivalry games with Duke and North Carolina on the basketball court.

The other side had plenty of ammo as well.

To begin with, a change in conference would mean a migration to schools of a similar kind – large state schools with impressive academic credentials. They also pointed to the fact that alignment with the league would lead to the improvement of the Maryland football team to the point where it can compete in the Big Ten. The basketball programs – already Big Ten ready- would have a made for TV home schedule with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana that would lead to great rivalries in short order.

Oh, yeah, there was also money involved. Actually it wasn’t just money... it was serious, serious cash.

If it were only about the expected increase in television revenues from the ACC to the Big Ten (approximately $8-10 million per year) then the University President Dr. Wallace Loh and the board may have thought twice about pulling this trigger.

Then add to that millions and millions of dollars the school will receive as part of a consortium arrangement with Big Ten schools to share federal research dollars. It’s the kind of money that will insure the stability of both the university and the athletic department.

Maryland officials must have felt like they had just hit the Powerball.

If you’re on the Board of Regents – whose primary job is to oversee the operations and fiscal well-being of the University system – and you ended up voting against this then you probably would have some explaining to do.

I’m like a lot of Maryland sports fans and I can get wistful over memories of great Terrapin plays and games. One of the things I love most about Maryland fans is the way they mark the times of their lives around seminal Terp games (e.g. “my daughter was born the day after Steve Blake stole the ball from J. Williams just before halftime at Cole Field House).

I get that. And I get the angst around the move. For many fans the relationship with the ACC amounted to a first love or romance.

The problem is that the ACC that we all knew and loved changed irrevocably in 2003 with the addition of Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami. The move was done solely for football purposes and completely changed the way the ACC schedule worked on the basketball side of things. Gone was the simply perfect model of playing every team home and away each year. Because of the numbers, the league had little choice but to introduce an unbalanced schedule that eliminated most home and homes.

With Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame all joining the ACC in the coming years those “rivalry” games would be fewer and further between. Maryland, for instance, could only count on seeing Duke and North Carolina at the Comcast Center every two years.

So much for romance.

Dr. Loh and Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson inherited a fiscal albatross from their predecessors that they could never have foreseen. That they have acted so quickly and so forcefully to secure the financial future of both the university and the athletic department is laudable and they deserve credit.

Loh was particularly forceful during the press conference and spoke passionately about the University’s financial status, the pain of having to cut several sports in the past year to trim costs in the athletic department and, most importantly, about his vision for the school. At one point he said his job was to chart the future and not be overwhelmed by it.

You would be hard-pressed to find a lot of University presidents with a similar kind of courage.

At one point a student reporter at the press conference asked why the process had not been conducted in a more open, public forum. The answer to that, of course, is that an open forum would lead to a complete paralysis of the process. The Board had been tasked to study this kind of opportunity with diligence and the future of the University in mind and acted accordingly.

Progress can be uncomfortable some times and institutions like a large public university can be particularly change averse. Ultimately the opportunities for real progress rarely come in such a compelling and obvious package as the one that was presented to the Board of Regents.

They were right to take it and the University will be far better for it in the long run.

Brown's big day leads BC to rout at Virginia, 41-10

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USA TODAY Sports

Brown's big day leads BC to rout at Virginia, 41-10

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Anthony Brown threw three touchdown passes and Boston College's defense stifled Virginia in a 41-10 victory on Saturday.

The Eagles (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their second straight road game, and did it behind Brown, who completed 19 of 24 passes for 275 yards, and a defense that limited Virginia to 247. The Eagles, by contrast, had 275 through the air and 237 on the ground.

Virginia (5-2, 2-1) came up well short in its bid for a fifth straight victory and bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011.

The Eagles used big plays to blow the game open quickly.

Thadd Smith took a jet sweep 76 yards down the sideline to make it 10-0 with 4:16 left in the first quarter. After Virginia went three-and-out, Brown hit Kobay White with a screen pass and White took it 76 yards down the middle of the field to make it 17-0 with 1:57 left.

After another Virginia punt, the Eagles ran a flea flicker, and Brown hit Michael Walker for 46 yards, setting up Brown's 10-yard touchdown throw to tight end Tom Sweeney with no defenders anywhere near him five plays later. He later found Sweeney again, this time from 3 yards out, to give BC a 34-7 lead.

While Brown was having his way with the Cavaliers defense, the Eagles were giving Kurt Benkert fits. They sacked him three times and had him on the run all day. His frustration finally showed in the second quarter when, scrambling left, he threw a left-handed backhand pass that was intercepted.

Oh boy.

No. 5 Wisconsin stays unbeaten with 38-13 win over Maryland

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USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Wisconsin stays unbeaten with 38-13 win over Maryland

MADISON, Wis. -- Jonathan Taylor ran for a touchdown and broke the 1,000-yard mark for the season, Alex Hornibrook passed for two scores and No. 5 Wisconsin stayed unbeaten with a 38-13 win over Maryland on Saturday.

Taylor finished with 126 yards on 22 carries, a relatively ho-hum day following two straight 200-yard outings for the running back.

Playing in his seventh contest at Wisconsin (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten), Taylor tied a major college football record shared by five other backs for fewest games by a freshman to get to 1,000 yards.

Hornibrook shook off an interception on his second attempt of the day, finishing 16 of 24 for 225 yards to balance the offense.

Maryland (3-4, 1-3), which has the league's worst defense, could have picked up some early pointers from Wisconsin.

Under heavy pressure, Max Bortenschlager's pass over the middle was intercepted by Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards and returned 54 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring with 12:18 left in the first quarter.

No wonder Maryland rarely took a shot down the field.

But the Terrapins did have some success running the ball out of spread formations, with Ty Johnson leading the way with 83 yards on 16 carries. They dented a defense that was allowing a Big Ten-best 78.8 yards a game for 143 yards overall on 35 carries.

An 11-play, 73-yard drive set up in part by eight runs and a penalty ended with Bortenschlager's 10-yard touchdown pass to Taivon Jacobs to get Maryland to within 28-10 about midway through the third quarter.

Wisconsin, though, sets a high bar in the ground game, and Maryland just couldn't keep up.

Fullback Austin Ramesh's 1-yard touchdown run with 9:10 left in the game ended an 11-play, 76-yard drive, giving Wisconsin a three-score lead that extinguished any faint upset hopes.