clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Time to Reflect: Is Maryland-Navy Set to Become a Full-Time Rivalry?

Leading up to Maryland's opener against Navy, the majority of previews focused on the fact that this was a "rivalry renewed"; there were pieces about how big Maryland-Navy could've been, looking back on the past, and just about any sort of nostalgia you could care about.

Along with that came the movement toward making Terps-Middies a regular affair. First came Ralph Friedgen and Ken Niumatalolo; then the ADs at both schools said they'd be receptive to playing more. Even a Ravens exec pitched in with an idea that sounded rather amazing: an annual season opener between the teams in Baltimore for a "Governor's Cup" trophy, preceded by a weekend of concerts, parades, other events and the requisite college recruiting, all in Maryland's largest metropolis.

Some, like me, think it's a good idea and that the two schools need to figure out how to get this going on more stable basis. Others, like Navy blog The Birddog, think that Maryland and Navy really won't work anything but a very semi-regular basis. And I'm sure there are a few of you that are hoping that Maryland and Navy just never meet again.

Then, of course, Maryland hired former Army AD Kevin Armstrong as their new head man. If the past is any indication, he has at least a working relationship with Navy AD Chet Gladchuk (which would be a step up from the Yow era in that area) and a probable desire to continue to play his former primary nemesis. He's said he'd like to see more Navy games, and I doubt it's pandering; no one should be surprised if this a serious issue he pursues.

But with the game in hindsight, we can start to grade how it was as an "event", and just how much the two should play in the future.

First off, it's safe to say that attendance was exactly what everyone involved with the game wanted. The announced attendance was 69,348, which was less than 2,000 seats short of filling M&T Bank's 71,000 capacity. It's also more than Byrd Stadium could hold, and it's worth mentioning that Maryland is coming off a 2-10 season with a relative apathy surrounding football. If Maryland was, say, 9-4 last year, this game is a sell-out and almost entirely full.

As for the atmosphere, I'll be honest: I was at home, and didn't really get a shot to gauge it. Reports from the game have been conflicting. But it seemed electric, at least on TV. Sure, it took awhile to get going, but for how boring of a game that was at times, the fans on both sides stayed active and in the game, and occasionally got loud for a few third downs.

Now, was it an "archrival" atmosphere? No, not really. It's not Army-Navy or Maryland-Duke (in basketball) and the respect between the two seemed very real, but there were a few moments of intensity (the big third downs, Travis Baltz getting froggy after a monster punt). Besides, Maryland-Navy will never be a big-time rivalry alongside the likes of Army-Navy, but that doesn't mean they can't open the season every year and be a solid secondary rivalry.

The factor most in favor of Maryland and Navy starting up a true rivalry comes from just how good these games have been. The first one, in 2005, was Lance Ball's coming out party. This one was straight out of a movie. Both teams should remain fairly competitive in the future, with Navy solidifying themselves as a high-major and Maryland seemingly on the right track (or on it soon, if Friedgen doesn't work out).

There are some problems, mainly coming from scheduling. Maryland has Notre Dame in FedEx Field next year and Texas on the docket in the future (albeit well in the future), plus a newly renewed continuous home-and-home with West Virginia. Navy has the very obvious series with Army, Air Force, and Notre Dame, plus SMU now annually on the schedule. Maryland, for one, would do well to schedule at least two easy games per year for bowl reasons like most teams do, and that wouldn't be an option in the Notre Dame and Texas years unless the Terps dropped West Virginia.

Not to mention that a loss to Navy never looks good, while a win won't always be chalked up as a huge achievement, either. In terms of rankings, this is akin to Virginia beating Oklahoma State, and you'd think that would get a little more national attention than the Terps have. It's not quite a lose-lose in terms of results, but it's not a win-win.

On the other hand, the benefits are tough to pass up. An annual/semi-annual rivalry would serve as glorified advertisements for both universities that entire weekend, would provide more ticket sales than either team would be able to attract independently, and provides a semi-marquee game for some national attention.

The atmosphere, ticket sales, and entertainment level of the game probably points to a renewal of the series in a few years. But that's really all pointless anyway once Anderson enters the picture. Quite simply, I'd be a little surprised if it doesn't happen, and from where I stand, that's a good thing.

Of course, the fact that Maryland won probably has a lot to do with that. But how do you see it? Should Maryland-Navy be a season-opener on a regular basis? Or does it just not make sense to face that triple-option.