Walking by Maryland’s locker room minutes before the 2017 NCAA men’s lacrosse championship, Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing could be heard through the underbelly of Gillette Stadium.
“I don't know why they picked it, but they love that song,” head coach John Tillman said in the postgame press conference. “You could give me a million guesses, I would never guess that song.”
A rock classic in its own regard, the pulsating drums and twangy guitar riffs of Money for Nothing haven’t been relevant on the music billboards since the mid-1980’s. Somehow, it became the anthem for Maryland men’s lacrosse en route to its first national championship since 1975.
“Every road trip, every time we come back, every time before the game, that song comes on and they will not get sick of it and they just keep playing it,” Tillman said. “I don't know why that song. I actually like Dire Straits a lot, but it would not have been my first choice.”
Maryland took care of business and broke the 42-year championship drought, but it wasn’t exactly all work and no play. The team adopted the use of a massive speaker for road trips, and it became every bit as important as the equipment they wore.
“I think when we won the [Big Ten] championship, we won, and we left Columbus at 11:00 and we drove seven straight hours,” Tillman said. “It was like 3:30 in the morning, and they were still just cranking tunes. Eventually they gave in and fell asleep, which, thank God for all of us.”
Tillman wasn’t the biggest fan of the team’s music selection, but he’s since come around.
“I would say early on, 90 percent of the music was horrific, but they loved it. I couldn't understand any of it, but it's gotten much better,” Tillman said.
Now that it’s all said and done, this is a team that had fun together, and didn’t hide that.
Maryland’s offense ran flawlessly at times, and its defense was a well-oiled machine. That on-field chemistry is a result of the team’s relationship off the field.
“We do everything with each other. I don't know if there's a weekend that we're not spending time with each other,” defender Tim Muller said. “That's what we want to do here. We want to build unity.”
Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, Tim Muller and Mac Pons all live together in a house in the University of Maryland’s Old Town neighborhood. If you’re wondering what a house filled with four college lacrosse players on the best team in the country could possibly look like, ESPN’s Paul Carcaterra got some insider access:
“I usually teach those guys to cook,” Rambo said in an open media practice before championship weekend. “Mac Pons is more of a Crock-Pot guy, I’m teaching those guys how to grill and everything.”
Asked an array of non-lacrosse questions before championship weekend, players discussed ideal road trip partners , admitted where they’d blow their money if they won the lottery and talked about who had the best beard game on the team.
So when Tillman announced he’d lost a bet with Rambo and Heacock about getting a tattoo, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.
“I can't believe Heacock and Rambo remembered, but I made a bet with them that I'd get a tattoo if we won the championship. I just can't believe those guys. They can't remember offensive plays and they remembered that.”
The Terps had unfinished business to take care of since the second last season ended, but took the time to remember that there’s a balance, too.