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Why Play the Game at All?

Posted By Scott Lowe On Sep 12 2010 @ 9:54 am In Maryland | 3 Comments

On the surface I get it.

Morgan State accepts a butt-kicking from the big in-state football program as a tradeoff for receiving a large payment that will help fund its athletic program, and Maryland gets an easy, confidence-building victory after playing a hard-fought game against Navy that left the Terps with only four days to prepare for their next opponent. Still, I can’t imagine what either side really gains from the 62-3 pounding Maryland put on its in-state NCAA FCS foe from Baltimore yesterday in College Park.

In fact, I can make a pretty strong argument that Morgan got a lot more out of the experience than the Terps did. The Bears got a payday that will help their athletic department survive and a taste of what it takes to play at the next level, which will only help them as they embark on their MEAC schedule.

Taking an even closer look I can’t see what Maryland got out of the game at all other than a nice buffer between traditionally tough Navy and nationally ranked rival West Virginia. So, if you are Maryland, why play the game at all?

A quick rundown of the damage shows that the Terps scored more points than they had in any single game in the last 35 years. The margin of victory was their largest since 2003. Maryland held Morgan State to six total yards in the first half. Bears’ QB Donovan Dickerson went 7-for-28 for 48 yards. The score was 45-0 … at the half!

Wouldn’t a Maryland team trying to rebound from a two-win season and develop into a squad that can compete in the ACC had been better served to play a game the Terps knew they could win in which they could develop confidence and still be challenged? To face a Delaware, Villanova, William and Mary or James Madison, perhaps? Wait, sorry Hokie Nation, that might be a bad example this morning. I have believe there are plenty of FCS and other lower-ranking FBS programs that Maryland could have handled and actually faced more of a true game situation than Morgan State was able to provide.
Terp coach Ralph Friedgen will defend the decision to play the Bears, pointing to an opportunity to build confidence, work on problem areas and get players valuable collegiate playing experience. C’mon man! Maryland’s players gain more valuable experience competing every day in practice. This game was about getting a resounding, guaranteed “W,” nothing more and nothing less.

If you really wanted to help key players build confidence, wouldn’t you leave starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson in the game a bit longer to help him develop faith in a passing game that generated 11 yards against Navy? Would you remove him after an ill-advised second-quarter toss ended up in the wrong team’s hands and then bring in backup redshirt freshman Danny O’Brien, who would go on to throw a touchdown pass on his first collegiate attempt and three TD passes in his first four throws?

If you really wanted to get playing time for your bench players would you have had all-conference linebacker Alex Wujciak, all-conference receiver Torrey Smith, starting tailback Da’Rel Scott and starting punt returner Tony Logan in the game deep into the third quarter?

There is no argument or defense for scheduling this type of game. As a fan I wouldn’t even consider forking out $35 or more to watch that kind of mismatch in person. As an alum it’s embarrassing to play an in-state opponent for the first time ever and beat them that badly. And as someone who has coached sports – albeit at a lower level – for a long, long time and handled PR for many college coaches, I can’t possibly fathom how a team benefits from competing in such a one-sided affair.

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