NC State is a fitting farewell for Maryland

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 29, 2013 

This is it for Maryland.

One last trip into the heart of ACC country, one last ACC football game, one last go round with N.C. State.

It’s a fitting ACC finale for the Terrapins, original conference members who are leaving after 60 years for the Big Ten in June. Fitting that the end is against the Wolfpack, their spiritual and color-coordinated conference kin.

If nothing else, the ACC’s “red” schools were united in their opposition of the ACC’s “blue” schools.

The two schools will always be linked by the Greatest College Basketball Game ever played (please stop embarrassing yourselves, Duke-Kentucky fans), but the football series has been very good, too. You can argue since 2000, there hasn’t been a more compelling series in the ACC.

Since the ACC was formed in 1953, N.C. State holds a 29-28-1 advantage in the series, only Duke-Virginia (28-28) has been closer.

Fitting because like so many other times, the Wolfpack and Terps can’t even have their own moment. Saturday’s game in Raleigh will be overshadowed by the one at the same time at another end of the Triangle between Duke and North Carolina.

While the Blue Devils and Tar Heels play for the Coastal Division, N.C. State will be playing to avoid its first eight-game losing streak since the 1959 season. The Wolfpack is also hoping avoid its first winless ACC season since that same year, which explains why tickets were selling for $6 on Stub Hub on Tuesday.

It’s a shame, actually, both that Maryland is leaving the ACC and how it’s leaving. The Terps will make more money in the Big Ten, even after the ACC gets its pound of litigious flesh on the way out the door.

More isn’t always better, even when it comes to money. Here’s the hard truth, Maryland: The Big Ten doesn’t care about you or your fans, only the Penn State and Ohio State fans who live in Washington and are willing to pay for the Big Ten Network.

And, no, the ACC shouldn’t throw the Terps a party on the way out the door, after all, it was their choice to leave. But Maryland has given a lot to the conference in football.

The Terps won the ACC’s first national title (1953) and produced arguably the conference’s best player, defensive tackle Randy White, and one of its best tacticians in former head coach Ralph Friedgen.

Maryland also gave the ACC the biggest comeback in NCAA history (since broken), a 31-point comeback in a 42-40 win over Miami in 1984. Then was on the losing end of the biggest comeback in a game between two ACC teams 2011, a 56-41 Wolfpack win, after the Terps led 27-0.

The games between the Terps and Pack in 2001, ’03, ’10 and ’11 were all-timers. It would be fun if N.C. State scheduled the Terps, instead of South Alabama, Central Michigan or Georgia Southern, but that won’t happen any time soon, if ever.

You really can’t blame N.C. State for avoiding Maryland, which former coach Tom O’Brien labeled the Wolfpack’s version of the “Bermuda Triangle.”

It was Maryland that kept Russell Wilson and the Wolfpack out of the ACC title game in 2010. It was Maryland that swept Philip Rivers all four of his years at State, including his Senior Day ceremony when his jersey was retired.

No, we won’t see Maryland on a football field in these parts for a while. It’s too bad. No one else will say it, certainly not anyone from Greensboro, but Maryland will be missed. A hale and hearty adieu to you, Terps. Saturdays in the ACC won’t be the same, and neither will your trips to Iowa City or Evanston.

Giglio: jgiglio@newsandobserver.com, @jwgiglio, 919-829-8938

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