It's not quite official yet, but it will be in about an hour. Maryland AD Kevin Anderson has called a press conference for 6:30 to announce Maryland's bowl destination, and Eric Prisbell - who has admittedly been on top of this for quite some time - is saying it'll be the Military Bowl. It had been the frontrunner for quite some time, so it's no surprise. Barring a last-second miracle swing, the Terrapins will be headed to play the East Carolina Pirates in D.C.'s RFK Stadium.
[Note by Ben Broman, 12/05/10 5:53 PM EST - It's now officially official.]
A lot of people are upset about this, including some of Maryland's own players. After all, Maryland was probably the third- or fourth-best team in the ACC, yet are headed to the "8th place" bowl, being passed up for 6-6 Clemson, 8-4 N.C. State - whom Maryland just defeated - 7-5 Miami, and a host of others.
If you're wondering why the bowls skipped Maryland to get other programs, it's simple: attendance and TV ratings. Maryland lacks a brand name in football that Miami and Clemson hold. They lack the fan support (this season, at least) of N.C. State or Georgia Tech. Quite simply, Maryland wasn't going to be a financial boon for any bowl except the one right in its own backyard: the Military Bowl.
It's certainly a disappointment for the players, like Danny O'Brien and Kenny Tate, who spearheaded the turnaround from 2-10 to one of the best seasons in recent memory. They definitely deserve better than a bus ride to downtown D.C. to play a middlin' C-USA team that gave up 76 points to Navy.
I'm a little tired of hearing, though, that the program and fans were victimized, screwed over, and punished by a broken system that emphasizes economics over all else. Does it suck? Yep. But Maryland's a big, state university located in a large metro area that's seen fan support in the past. This ain't Wake Forest. Maryland should have fan support. They just didn't get it this year.
When fans aren't going to games in College Park, you can't blame bowl organizers for worrying about the fans' ability to travel to Orlando to Nashville. It's a financial process for the bowls, as are most things in college sports, and we all knew that going in.
It's pretty simple: if there was more fan support, Maryland's probably in the Champs Sports Bowl right now, most likely against Notre Dame or West Virginia. This wasn't a situation where the bowls are some inherently evil presence; the fans, or lack thereof, are just as much to blame in this process as the bowls are. Sorry, but it's true. The players were victimized; the program wasn't.
Anyway, I don't think you and I are the ones to blame here; if you're here, you're likely a superfan. But there it is.
For the record, there are some positives here. For one, they aren't playing in Shreveport, which is a doomsday scenario. For another, the ability to avoid travel expenses means that Maryland should make out very well financially in this game, which is big for an AD that is, believe it or not, still struggling economically. And perhaps most of all, fans can (and will) actually show up for the game.
We'll have more on ECU and the team as time moves on. For now, we turn back to basketball.