The University of Maryland's announcement that they were leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Big Ten Conference on Monday sent shockwaves throughout College Park, Md., but the Maryland Terrapins football team is putting the big change aside for now as they prepare to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday.
I was just happy, but happy for everybody, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. Yesterday to me was a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, a walk-off. Everybody benefits and it just made this institution that much better, that much stronger and it's going to make this athletic department that much better and that much stronger.
The timing of the announcement was ideal for Edsall, who attended the university's press conference Monday afternoon where the move to the Big Ten was made official to the public. Despite the announcement that changed the entire landscape of college athletics, Edsall said the team has remained focused on finishing the season strong.
The good thing for us with the announcement yesterday was on our day off, Edsall said. We didn't have to deal with the distraction of dealing with meetings or having to practice. So from that standpoint, like what I said yesterday, what I told the team before I came up to the press conference, they were really excited about it and that's done and over with. All of our focus and attention right now is on North Carolina and we hit the practice field today and take care of preparing the right way and doing the things that we need to do to get ready to get ready for North Carolina.
Edsall said he approved of the move, not only from a purely athletic standpoint, but because he feels the move will benefit the university as a whole.
I think, as President Loh said, when you take everything and look at it and consider the university and everything that goes with it, it was a decision that there was no way they can pass up, Edsall said. It enhances this university academically. It enhances this university financially. And to me, it enhances these student athletes in a big way. It will allow the athletic department to better serve and better fund the student athletes in terms of what they need and in terms of the program with what they need and also because of the academic affiliation, it helps our professors.
Maryland's move to the Big Ten conference along with Rutgers came as a surprise to most people, but Edsall sees this move as only the beginning of conference realignment in the NCAA. Edsall believes conferences changing members and sizes is inevitable and will one day lead to a group of super-conferences and he applauds President Wallace D. Loh and Athletic Director Kevin Anderson for making the move.
In the every changing world of college athletics, it's great to be involved with people who are fore-thinkers and who see the visions of where things are going to go so you don't get left behind, Edsall said. I think until you get four conferences with 16 teams, I'm not sure the expansion is over with.
The Terps will find themselves in a very strong football conference, with traditional powerhouses like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, and many have questioned whether the Terps can compete with such elite programs. Edsall said he stands by his belief that as long as the Terps are doing what they are supposed to do, they will be fine.
I just go to the young men that we have here now, with what we recruited last year and who we're involved with this year and knowing what in terms of what we're building here and the depth that we're creating, there's not doubt that we'll be able to compete and do well in the Big Ten, Edsall said. That's all part of recruiting, developing players, players understanding what the expectations are. The thing is, people always have their opinions and that's fine, but the only opinions that matter to me are the ones that are here in this building that are going out there each and every day working and doing the things necessary to win. We'll be fine.