Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What is the cause of the budget situation that Maryland finds itself in?
Jeff Barker: There is actually some misinterpretation about this.
Maryland’s athletic department would have had an operating deficit of about $5 million or $6 million by now. The current leadership inherited a situation in which the department was spending beyond its means. It didn't help that attendance at games wasn't reaching the level the school hoped it would.
But it’s when the ACC began withholding conference revenues late last year that the budget hole became particularly onerous. It has ballooned to about $21 million, according to president Wallace Loh.
Consider how this happened:
Maryland was not shy about expressing its disapproval last year of the ACC’s $52 million exit fee. The school openly challenged the fee’s legitimacy. Fearing the university could bolt for the Big Ten without paying the fee, the ACC began withholding Maryland’s share of conference revenues.
To the ACC, I’m guessing this is the equivalent of wage garnishment on an individual owing money. The ACC considers the withholdings as an “offset” against the exit fee.
The withholdings have wreaked havoc on Maryland’s budget, forcing the athletic department to borrow large amounts from an auxiliary university fund.
Is the ACC within its rights to freeze Maryland out of conference revenues? That’s up to the courts to decide now.
Who is going to win Maryland’s No. 2 quarterback job backing up C.J. Brown?
Don Markus: Typically, the No. 2 quarterback position doesn’t generate this type of attention in the preseason of a college football team. But after what the Terps endured last season, losing Brown to a season-ending knee injury before the first game was played and then watching three others go down before finishing the year with linebacker Shawn Petty at quarterback, you know Randy Edsall has to be prepared.
The good thing is that Brown is having a terrific camp and looks much more confident – particularly throwing the ball – than he did before he got hurt. But he is injury prone, having sustained another season-ending broken collarbone on his first series as a freshman. He stayed healthy as a sophomore when he split time with Danny O’Brien during Edsall’s first season in College Park.
Edsall certainly has no shortage of possible backups should Brown get hurt or struggle in his return once the season begins. Two of the quarterbacks Edsall turned to after Brown’s injury, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, showed promise as freshmen before sustaining season-ending ACLs themselves, have also come back healthy. (The other quarterback who played last season, Devin Burns, transferred.)
On Thursday, Edsall said that he believes there has been a little separation among the three vying for the backup job – Hills, Rowe and junior college transfer Ricardo Young. Edsall said he would not make a decision until after Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage at Byrd Stadium, and would not reveal his choice until Monday.
Given the strength of Maryland’s offense – potentially explosive receivers in Stefon Diggs, Nigel King and Deon Long (currently out with a back injury) – Edsall wants someone who can throw. But considering the offense’s weakness – a line that surrendered 39 sacks last season – he has to also have someone who can run.
I asked Edsall after practice Thursday whether he is looking for a change-of-pace type quarterback who might be more of a contrast to Brown or someone who fits the kind of offense Mike Locksley has designed around Brown.
“It’s going to be who fits the offense, what we think is best for us,” Edsall said. “Hopefully we won’t have to use a No. 2. That’s what my hope is. But we’ve got to find a guy who’s the best at running and throwing, just like C.J. I want to find the guy that if he has to come in, we don’t have to change the gameplan. If it doesn’t work out that, we’ll see what happens.”
Of the backups, Rowe has by far the strongest arm. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he looks the part of the Division I quarterback. He seems capable of getting out of the pocket, but clearly not with the ease of Brown or Young. It would seem to me that Rowe is more suitable to a traditional passing offense rather than the spread or read option.