On Monday, Maryland and the Big Ten hosted two events officially welcoming the Terps into the conference. In Baltimore, Maryland debuted new Big Ten gear in a celebration event at Under Armour's retail store. Later in the evening, a celebration prior to the National's game in D.C. featured all of the B1G mascots, commissioner Jim Delany and several of Maryland's coaches.
I was able to go to the event yesterday afternoon in the bullpen outside of Nationals Park and snapped some pictures for you to browse through. It was yet another example of Maryland's new conference rolling out the welcome mat, making their latest member feel at home and loved.
As a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland spent 61 years with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia, but was always the northernmost school, until Boston College, Syracuse and Pitt were added. Throughout their time in the ACC, Maryland often felt like the northern outcast, excluded from the ACC's core Carolina focus, seemingly forgotten about on a routine basis.
And despite northern expansion, Maryland still felt like they were outsiders, as the conference assigned Pitt as Maryland's primary ACC rival. Not Virginia, not Duke, not North Carolina or North Carolina State; Pitt.
The Big Ten, on the other hand, has embraced Maryland, made them feel welcomed and is doing whatever they can to fully integrate the school into their fabric, despite being an eastern school in a mid-western conference. The conference has already announced that the B1G Basketball tournament will be played in Washington, D.C. in 2017, a task that seemingly impossible to get the ACC to do while Maryland was a member of the conference. The inaugural Big Ten Lacrosse tournament will be played on Maryland's campus at Byrd Stadium. Prior to Maryland's addition, the B1G didn't even have a lacrosse league. So not only did they create one to accommodate the rich lacrosse history of Maryland, they also worked out a deal to bring Maryland's archrival in lacrosse, Johns Hopkins, to the conference as a lacrosse playing member.
The Big Ten is also working to actually get Maryland and the Big Ten Network in the homes of fans so they can actually see their team play. Gone are the days when, despite being a student on Maryland's campus, they couldn't watch their team play in certain games.
It's amazing how much backlash and hatred current ACC schools have thrown at Maryland about their departure. They clearly care about losing the Terps, but where was that same level of support before they left? And can we stop blaming Maryland for leaving? I'm pretty sure almost any school would have done what Maryland did if they were in the same position.