Anderson says Terps' football moving 'in the right direction'

Athletic director says team never quit

November 30, 2012|By Jeff Barker | The Baltimore Sun

Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said Friday that he has faith in the direction and leadership of the Terps’ football program and that he was encouraged by the team’s performance in the final game of a difficult, injury-ravaged 4-8 season.

“I feel confident that we’re moving this program in the right direction,” Anderson said.

Maryland lost its last six games. Anderson, who likes to take the pulse of the team on road trips, traveled to the University of North Carolina for the final game. The Terps, who trailed 14-0, came back to take a two-touchdown lead before falling, 45-38.

“You measure the season, and I measure it by the last game,” Anderson said. “We went in and we were down 14 points and those young men could have quit. And I think a lot of people would have said, ‘Well I don’t really blame them.’ And for them to fight back and play hard that whole game and have an opportunity to win at the end, I think that shows you where this program’s going.”

Anderson was interviewed 11 days after the announcement that Maryland is moving in 2014 to the Big Ten — a conference historically known for its football prowess. While some media pundits have characterized the move as a “money grab” because of the conference’s attractive television payouts, Anderson referred to it as an “investment” in the school’s future.

Anderson said he felt no divided loyalty leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which Maryland was an original member in 1953.

“My loyalty is to the University of Maryland and this athletic department,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have a problem with that because I was displaying my loyalty. What we all need to think about is that the tradition doesn’t die, because the tradition is here at the University of Maryland.”

Anderson also said during the interview:

*That Maryland will study a number of options for men’s and women’s lacrosse — a sport the Big Ten doesn’t currently have enough members to host. “There are three, four maybe five scenarios we can take now. We will get that done sooner rather than later,” he said.

Men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman said recently that the team anticipates “more change and shifting” in conference memberships and is taking “wait and see” approach to its plans. Anderson said Maryland hopes to enhance in-state lacrosse rivalries with such schools as Johns Hopkins, Towson, UMBC, Loyola and Navy.

*That he believes Maryland athletes have embraced the Big Ten move. Former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, a member of the Board of Regents, said athletes at any school switching conferences should have the opportunity to be released from their scholarships — and not have to sit out a year if they transfer — if the new situation isn’t suitable to them. “This is something we ought to look at nationally,” McMillen said Friday.

Maryland said it weighed a possible hardship for athletes — the travel required to get to Big Ten venues — against the benefits of the conference shift. “There are some difficult trips,” Anderson said. “We found that for more the most part it’s not going to be any longer than most of our (ACC) trips. Going to Tallahassee [Fla.] is not the easiest. Going to Miami is probably as long as some of the others.”

*That he hopes Maryland can build an indoor football practice facility that would be funded primarily by private donors.

“We’ve been talking about that from the day that I stepped on campus [in 2010],” Anderson said. “It’s a vision of ours and it’s a vision we would like to see happen sooner rather than later. There are some key people that are very important to our program that have been looking at that. And it wouldn’t just be an indoor facility for football. What we would be looking at — if we’re ever able to do that — is a high-performance center for all our athletes.”

Byrd Stadium (capacity: 54,000) is small by Big Ten standards. There are no plans to expand it.

“We have the capacity of putting temporary bleachers back up,” Anderson said.” Right now if we were able to sell out the way the stadium is now, that would be a great thing.”

Under football coach Randy Edsall, Maryland won two games in 2011 and four games in 2012. Next season will be the third in Edsall's six-year contract.

Maryland has one more ACC season left before heading to the Big Ten.

Anderson did say improvements can be made to football.

“Randy and I agree that there are particularly certain areas we need to get better. We’ll concentrate on recruiting to get better,” Anderson said.

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