Terps, Mids to meet in 2005

Schools have not played in football since 1965

Season opener at Ravens Stadium

Yow: `This represents 8 years of negotiations'

October 30, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - After nearly four decades of separation, the University of Maryland and the Naval Academy finally have decided to meet again on the football field.

Years of on-again, off-again discussions grew serious in recent months, and the schools announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement to open the 2005 season by playing at Ravens Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3.

"This game has been anticipated for years by many of the Terrapin faithful. This represents eight years of negotiations, and a lot of people were involved in making it come to pass," said Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow. "And we get to play the game in the best football venue in the country."

Yow had pushed for a two-year deal with Navy before the schools settled on a one-game contract that is expected to be signed shortly. Yow, who said the Terrapins had been holding an open date in 2005 in anticipation of the agreement, said Maryland will pursue more games with the Midshipmen.

The schools, which have played each other 20 times, have not met since 1965, when Navy beat Maryland, 19-7, giving the Midshipmen a 15-5 lead in the series. But the relationship between them had begun to sour a year earlier.

During an ugly game at Byrd Stadium in 1964 - won by the Terps, 27-22 - several fights broke out in the stands, Maryland students allegedly threw powder on the Midshipmen's uniforms, and Terps halfback Jerry Fishman directed an obscene gesture toward the brigade. Over the years, Maryland had shown interest in renewing the rivalry, but Navy had not responded in kind.

"This game, which will be an event for the state of Maryland, will be a wonderful way to kick off the 2005 football season," said Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk. "It will be a festival-type atmosphere for both schools, with many city-wide activities surrounding the game. We anticipate extraordinary interest and fully expect it to be a sellout."

Yow estimated that, with a sellout, each school stands to make about $1.2 million off the game. She said several thousand tickets will be set aside for students from each institution. The starting time will be announced at a later date.

"We're very happy we could be part of this, and we look forward to bringing other Maryland groups together to participate in the collegiate experience," Ravens owner Art Modell said.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is glad the schools are getting back together, and not just because his program enjoys a decided competitive advantage over the Midshipmen, who have lost 27 of 29 games since the start of the 2000 season.

Friedgen, a 1970 Maryland graduate, was a freshman in 1965 and said he witnessed the 1964 contest during a visit to the College Park campus. He also recalled the atmosphere surrounding college games played in pro stadiums, dating to his days in the early 1980s as Maryland's offensive coordinator.

"I remember when we played Miami and Clemson at the old Memorial Stadium in the '80s. It was rocking. We had 65,000 people and the enthusiasm was great," Friedgen said. "I'm thinking of rivalries for our program, but in-state rivalries take on a new meaning, and I think it's something the whole state can get behind."

Said Navy first-year coach Paul Johnson: "Clearly, there was a lot of interest in the community in seeing the teams play each other, so I think it's a positive that the right people made it happen. Hopefully, we've got enough time between now and then that we can improve and be competitive with them."

Sun staff writer Kevin Van Valkenburg contributed to this article.

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