On August 14, The Washington Post published an article detailing the financial struggles at the athletic department of The University of Maryland. Bottom line: Maryland needs to increase season ticket sales from football, as well as fundraising to compete in the Big 10. Other than overstating the obvious, I’m not sure why The Post published this. Is Maryland still being punished for deciding to leave the ACC? This is generally accepted as old news by alums, such as myself, even though I was not in favor of the original move.
Running a huge budget deficit and continuing to borrow from the university to cover athletic department costs is unacceptable. What solves for this is winning, and winning big at football. Coming off a 4-8 season with numerous injuries at quarterback, and with ACC heavyweights Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech on the schedule, this is going to be a tall task, but it needs to happen to return Maryland to solvency. The bulls-eye is squarely on head coach, Randy Edsall , who needs to lead the Terps to a 10-win season in 2013.
We got a glimpse of what sustained success looks like in the early Ralph Freidgen years with three straight 10-win seasons. There were prominent bowl appearances, sellouts at Byrd Stadium, nationally televised games, etc. When you win at football, you sell tickets, you increase buzz about the university, you increase your fundraising, you make it easier to land four and five-star recruits for football, basketball, and non-revenue producing sports. All good things flow from winning.
Generating interest, along with fundraising, becomes even harder when you look at the transient nature of Maryland alums and the DC area in general. Many grads are from out of state and don’t form that passionate connection with the school’s teams. This is similar to the quandary the DC professional teams are in, and the only solution is to build a sustained winner of national prominence that a wide ranging east coast fan base can identify with. Many of the successful SEC and Big 10 programs are at schools out in the middle of nowhere where the football program is the only game in town and the cities literally shut down on game day as everyone comes out. This is what the Terps are up against and it’s a tall task.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier starting next season with Big 10 regulars Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Penn State lined up. In 2017 and 2018, the Terps have added a home and home series with Texas but the opportunity is there. The good news is that selling out Byrd Stadium should be no problem with these high profile opponents, but to sustain the sellouts you have got to win. It may sound unreasonable, but Randy Edsall is now the most important man in the state of Maryland. He has got to do his best work and pull this off now.