Dale Sprague has a grand plan to kick off the second 100 years of football at Western Maryland College: a game in Moscow.
"A college football team from the United States has never played in the Soviet Union, and we want to be the first," said Sprague, who's entering his sixth season as the Green Terrors' head coach. "We've got a proposed itinerary and some ideas to raise funds. If we can find the money, we're going."
Sprague told The Carroll County Times of his plan last week, and in a team meeting Sunday got the overwhelming backing of his players.
Two weeks ago, shortly before the failed coup in the Soviet Union, Sprague received a pamphlet from International Sports Connection, a marketing and travel firm that organizes overseas sports tours. ISC can arrange for the Green Terrors to spend six days in the Soviet Union and play the Moscow Bears in that city's Olympic Stadium next March 17. The trip would occur during Western Maryland's spring break.
"The people at ISC say the political developments there have little bearing on our proposed game," Sprague said. "Now what we have to do is raise about $1,000 per player to cover travel costs. We want to raise the money collectively. We'll probably get little money, if any, from the college, because these are tight fiscal times. I want to take at least 40 players, and I saw 75 hands interested when I raised the subject to our players Sunday.
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of football at Western Maryland."
If successful, Western Maryland would follow in the footsteps of one of its oldest athletic rivals, Johns Hopkins. In 1988, the Blue Jays became the first U.S. college baseball team to play in the Soviet Union.