There Are No Real Winners Here
Since we last spoke the Big Ten Conference has eliminated the non-conference games for this season. I recently was surprised to hear a debate and even be asked- “Who are the winners and losers from zero non-conference games?” The debate over whether that helps, or hurts is simple. It hurts everyone—its less football for the fans, less revenue for the schools and broadcasting outlets and less games for the players. There are no winners here. For a program like Maryland the more practice, experience and games is necessary in order to re-build the success that the program at times has been able to accomplish. This could not happen at worse time in the context of Maryland Football. Sure other schools in a better situation can handle this better as I have previously stated but even for them it’s less of a chance to showcase the great talent they have and even for them they lose the opportunity to get the rust off, fine tune things and get Conference ready.
With High School Football in peril or already cancelled in some cases, that also is a set-back for the Terps. Maryland cannot buy a break just when some hope and progress was slowly becoming restored in College Park. I don’t care about how all the schools have to deal with this, all we are concerned about is Maryland. Now it could help build a steely resolve for the kids who still have plenty of eligibility left and help the program to learn and grow and get better in ways they never thought and that is all good. Nothing though compensates for being in a game and playing and learning. No amount of Zoom will ever compensate for that period. I stress again there are no winners here in the context of football.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Now we could all muster a guess as to how those non-conference games would have gone for the Terps and it is likely they come out of that 2-1. Ultimately, we have seen Maryland start out hot in the non-conference play but succumb to the much tougher Big Ten. I do think the schedule laid out nicely in building up to the Big Ten with Towson an FCS School first, then Northern Illinois a Mid-Major and finally West Virginia, a Power 5 School. At the end of the day though records this year do not matter as much as they will in 2021. This year is about progress in the form of competitiveness and how they are perceived as a program. Next year it starts to be about the wins and losses. Three of the first four games Maryland plays are against West Division opponents, two of whom are exceptionally good and one of whom is due for a bounce back season. The one East Division opponent is Indiana, a matchup that has been very enjoyable to watch between the Terps and Hoosiers the last few years except for the outcome with MD coming up short twice with chances to win the game at the end. It is very possible the Terps start 0-4. Then it is 5 straight East Division opponents in which they may be favored in two of them, maybe. I see maybe two wins out of those games.
The glass half full outlook on the situation is difficult for me to find. There is still at least a 50/50 shot college football does not happen at all and frankly I am skeptical how moving football to the spring does not have some negative repercussions for a normal 2021 season especially as it pertains to recovering from injury. To me if you scrap football in the fall, don’t mess with 2021. Call it a day and wait to get back to normalcy next season. You just hope that Covid-19 does not turn out to be something that ruined a reclamation project before it ever got started. How will this impact Maryland Football for this season and beyond? I am not of the belief that this will end up defining Mike Locksley’s attempt at restoring glory in College Park if we are just talking about three missed games. However, if a season is lost, everything gets pushed off a year and it is tough to really know how this will impact each individual player’s growth. Now with the incoming talented 2021 class that could really make for some great competitions in practice for players who may have started or got good playing time this year before ceding their position to better incoming talent but never got to play because of a cancelled season.
It should make the program better from a depth perspective. It can also make a program very hungry however every other team is in that same boat (in that we do care about other programs) so is there really an advantage there, probably not. If there is a 9 game season or if the Big Ten adds one more conference game in we will learn to an extent (because talent still rules the day) which programs made the most of their time off the field through the use of technology for meetings and which players got very mentally strong in learning the playbook, about themselves and their opponents. Call me a pessimist but ultimately there are no real winners here.
Mike Popovec is a Weekend and Fill-In host at 105-7 The Fan. In addition Mike hosts the Pre and Post, Halftime and Scoreboard Updates for the Football Games on the Maryland Terrapins Sports Radio Network. He also hosts the Pre and Post Game Show on weekends for some of the Maryland Basketball Games. Popovec also hosts a local News, Talk and Sports Morning Program at the beach on 92-7 WGMD. He also produces and hosts High School Football Games and Shows throughout the season out of Easton covering the Eastern Shore's Bayside Conference. He sideline reports for CW54 for the Maryland State High School Football Playoffs with Bruce Cunningham, Doug Duvall and Wally Williams.