By now, you've all heard the news about James Franklin taking the head coaching job at Penn State and Ralph Friedgen taking the offensive coordinator position at Rutgers. Which means there's going to be a little more Maryland flavor coming to the Big Ten than expected, even if it's ex-Maryland flavor.
Franklin's appointment in particular is worrisome in terms of recruiting, as Testudo Times' own John Langley already documented. But Maryland fans should take this as an opportunity to ignite one of the longest-standing traditions in college sports.
Let's face it: right now, the Terps don't have a huge connection to the Big Ten. Games like Maryland-Nebraska, Maryland-Purdue, or Maryland-Minnesota don't exactly spark excitement amongst a fanbase that is used to hating UVA and all teams from North Carolina. Of course, the Terrapins future conference has some B1G names that will certainly fill seats in Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center -- names like Michigan, Ohio State, and Indiana. But what the Terps are going to be missing when they make the jump to bigger pastures is a rival.
Enter James Franklin and Ralph Friedgen.
Sure, many people probably don't need any extra motivation to root against Penn State. And a lot of Terp fans don't hold any grudges against Franklin or Friedgen, and wish them success (just not against Maryland, of course). But you have to believe that both coaches are going to be gunning to beat their former employers, and not just because they're an opponent on the schedule.
Penn State and Rutgers both make perfect choices as new rivals for Maryland. For one thing, they're the closest schools to College Park in the Big Ten. That means you can expect a lot of overlapping in recruiting territory and an easier road trip to away games for fans of each school. In football, all three teams are in the same division, meaning the Terps will be facing the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights yearly.
Seeing familiar faces on the other sideline just makes it that much easier to kickstart a rivalry. Or in Penn State's case, to revive one. That is, if you take the term rivalry very loosely, since PSU leads the all-time series 35-1-1.
They may not be Duke or Virginia, but no one in the Big Ten was going to be right off the bat. Good rivalries take time to grow and develop, and wins from both sides of course help immensely. Like Maryland, Rutgers is also a new kid on the block, which means their fans will be just as open to finding new teams they love to hate. And while there are concerns on how Terps football will fare against several of the football powerhouses the Big Ten houses, now is one of the best chances for the program to be competitive against Penn State, who have not had a 10-win season since 2009.*
Spark up a couple of new Big Ten rivalries, and perhaps even the most loyal-to-the-ACC Maryland fans will have a change of heart. Because the funny thing about tradition is that at some point, it had to start somewhere.
*well, technically now not since 1996