Posts Tagged ‘the University of Maryland

04
Nov
09

Unstoppable Starts Here! Dino Gregory Could Be Latest Ineligible Terp

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Listening to the Terps’ 75-54 exhibition win last night over the mighty Crimson Hawks of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, you never would have guessed that Maryland had, or ever had, anyone on their roster named Dino Gregory.  And that’s noteworthy why, you ask?  Quit bothering you with this stupid exhibition bullcrap, you say? Well, hold on to your hats; this is curious because the Terps do have someone who goes by that name. Look, here he is. And what’s more, he was supposedly the team’s fifth starter entering the season.

So why did Gregory not only not play, but have his very existence expunged from the broadcast as if he were a “Fire Snyder” sign at a Redskins tailgate? Well, now we have our answer. Actually, some people were informed minutes before the game. But I was not. For I have no access, you see.

But now that I’m informed and fully awake, I’m going to be serious for a second here.  Gregory was suspended and barred from Comcast Center last night because of some previous team violations (alleged to be academic misconduct) that have yet to be resolved. The school isn’t commenting, citing privacy rules. This is not boding well. This could mean significant lost time for Dino.

If Gregory does miss real games, it would not be the first time for a Maryland athlete. Maryland QB Josh Portis was caught cheating, had to sit out the 2007 season, and never recovered. He transferred. And of course, in January 2006, Maryland guard Chris McCray was deemed ineligible for the rest of his senior season. This wasn’t some reserve who dropped off the radar; this was a big gaffe. He was the team’s leading scorer and they ended up missing the tournament. Earlier this year, the artist formerly known as Jin Soo Kim was declared academically ineligible before being reinstated a few days later.

This is to say nothing of the Tyree Evans or Gus Gilchrist eligibility fiascoes.

McCray, Kim/Choi, Evans, Gilchrist, Portis, and maybe Gregory. That’s a decent team right there.

I never had the feeling Maryland players and programs weren’t taking school seriously. (Although graduation stats are pretty poor, they’re improving and potentially misleading. But that’s another post.) But it seems fair to ask whether there is a disconnect somewhere. Isn’t someone accountable for making sure players know the rules and get their butts to class? It seems like someone keeps dropping the ball when it comes to making sure players understand expectations (and consequences). And it seems like this stuff happens at Maryland more than other schools. Is that just me? Either way, how many more times do players need to lose eligibility because of some ultimately silly mistake before we stop shooting ourselves in the foot?

15
Oct
09

i spent $250,000 and all i got was this crappy slogan

Next year UMD will be launching a new brand called University of Maryland Classic.

Next year UMD will be launching a new brand called University of Maryland Classic.

Do you remember “New Coke”?  In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company decided to reformulate it’s classic soda and rebrand it.  As part of a rebranding campaign, the company released New Coke with the slogan, “The new taste of Coca-Cola.”  The new formula, and the branding campaign that went along with it, were a colossal failure.  People hated New Coke.  They just wanted the old formula.  Shortly thereafter the company was forced to release a second brand, Coca-Cola Classic, which was actually just the old formula under a new label.  I studied this case in business school and the lesson I learned was “don’t mess with a good thing”, especially if you don’t have a better alternative.

According to a report in the Diamondback, the University of Maryland got their New Coke today.  They’re replacing “Fear the Turtle”, one of the most recognizable and endearing college slogans in history with (brace for it):

UNSTOPPABLE STARTS HERE

The article states that this is a “second slogan”, but this sounds like a hedging tactic so they can ease the school into accepting this new slogan.  I guess the school needed to rebrand itself to escape the reputation it’s gained from a decade of improving academics, outstanding athletics, and rapid campus expansion and readjust expectations for a new, blander era.  Student responses to the article have been overwhelmingly negative.  Here’s my take on this new slogan…

THIS SLOGAN BLOWS

I’ll justify that comment if you disagree with me, but for now I’m just going to let it stand on its own.  FEAR THE TURTLE!

23
Sep
09

Terp Football Fans: Should I show up to boo, or just burn my ticket?

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I’m glad someone woke up John Feinstein. He must have finally finished his latest tell-all book about the William and Mary soccer team.  Let me guess: it’s a place where sports still mean something.

Just a couple weeks after making some waves by claiming rightly that ACC football is irrelevant on the national stage, yesterday Feinstein noted the growing swarms of Boo Birds at Maryland and Redskin games. More fans seem to be eating their “Boo Berries,” if you get my drift.  They’ve got a case of the “Boos.”  Their teams “make them sick” to the point where they want to “lash out like Huns after a break-in at the meadery.”  If you take my meaning.  Because mead is an intoxicant.

Sometimes I hear a little too much talk radio in Feinstein’s columns, but he’s right. Terp fans are angry over what could be a dreadful season. And I’m not talking about the overreactionist “OMG SOMEONE NEEDS TO THROW ACID IN DEBIE YOWS FACE” contingent. A lot of the rank-and-file fans seem to be getting fed up, too, and they’re fighting back with their mouths and, more ominously, their wallets. Another Post story today notes that attendance is down at Byrd by nearly every measure: last Saturday’s MTSU game had the smallest crowd since 2002. Season ticket sales are declining. And that’s even before we bring up the luxury boxes.  These people, they just don’t know true poshness when they see it.  That’s REAL particle board, people!  That stuff doesn’t grow on trees.

Does the economy play a factor?  Surely.  But would the attendance dip be as bad if the team wasn’t also dipping like a bag of Scoops at an AA meeting?  (zing.)  No. Look at Michigan, one of the hardest-hit states economically. The Big House is packed every time.  Byrd could be, too.  The team doesn’t have to win the ACC every year — just be competitive.  Don’t embarrass your fans.  Is that too much to ask?  For instance, what about that Murfreesboro vacation I was planning?  You think I can still show my face there?  And I heard they just got a Mattress Discounters.

Bottom line:  we wouldn’t be having any of these conversations if the team was winning.  In many ways, sports is an easy business. 

(Non-topical final note:  If you think the Lions don’t have Sunday’s game circled on their calendar, you haven’t been watching the Skins. Booo, Snyder!)

31
Aug
09

UMTerps.com: It’s all about Technology

TurtleComputer

I really have to tip my cap to the fine and hard-working folks at the University of Maryland athletic department.  They know the score.  They have seen the writing on the wall.  Would you like to know what that writing says?  It says “the future is now.”  It is all around us.  A scary thought, I know, but The Information Age — as I call it — will be loaded with opportunities.  You wait and see.  For example, the Internet?  The World Wide Web?  It’s going to change our lives.

I know what you’re thinking — that I’m freaking you out.  But do not be afraid, son.  This could be great for the Terps.  Did you know that, one day, basketball games will be played not on a court, but in the fourth-dimensional world of cyberspace?  Soon, I won’t have to write out these posts longhand on carbon paper and airmail them to processing facilities in Rochester and Cedar Rapids. If you can grasp that, then you’re catching on.  There are no limits anymore!   It’s all like, where do you want to go today?  The Superhighway is open for business.  Are you ready?

Behind the scenes at UMTerps.com

Behind the scenes at UMTerps.com

The Terps are.  To wit, behold their newly updated home on the World Wide Web. It’s revamped for a new century. Gone are the clunky, not-regularly updated features. Instead witness the online auctions, sponsor ads, and premium ticket and apparel and seat purchasing opportunities. Opportunities! Business opportunities. That’s what it’s all about…driving your business. Twitter feeds abound…want to know what the women’s gymnastics team is up to? Check them out on their Twitter feed. That’s what we mean when we say connectivity. It’s a global marketplace…of ideas. Plus, the site looks much cooler now, with every sport receiving a periodic-table-style abbreviation on the home page (football, for example, is Fb…anytime you appropriate scientific or medical terminology for a non-scientific-or-medical use, it’s just cool. It’s a winning “formula.”).

So kudos to the athletic department for riding this wave to new shores of interactivity. It’s been a long time coming, and it looks absolutely terrific. But mark my words — mark them — this is not an end, but a beginning. Go Terps, dot com.

26
Aug
09

Terrapins Rising Recap: Episode 7

Fridge[1]

The excitement is starting to build as Terrapins Rising moves from spring practices to summer training camp, meaning these episodes were filmed just weeks (or days) ago.  It’s a great time of year, baby!

In this very special episode, we see some amusing home footage from senior d-lineman Charlie Villanueva  Sam Cassell Jared Harrell. New players and coaches introduced themselves to the team, with the highlight being D-coordinator Don Brown’s observation that “I don’t have any hobbies, but I do like to get BEEEEEEEEP after a victory on Saturday.”   All right!   I also like to get beeeeeeep.

Another cool moment — maybe the coolest of the season — showed about 10 seconds of an actual pregame sideline, with the crowd chanting that “oh-oh-oh-OH-oh” song and the players about to lose their minds from the adrenaline. It was only 10 seconds. But I think I actually had to stand up off the couch, I got so pumped. That’s saying something.

But here’s where it went downhill.  The rest of the episode was bascially one big commercial. Now before you call me a communist or Hitler or whatever, let me say that I understand the promotional aspect of this program.  That’s the price CSN pays for its access.  I like Under Armour as much as the next guy.  I know we all gotta make this money. But I do think this episode got a little carried away.

First, some athletic department suit gives us a “tour” of the new luxury boxes, which we all know have been such a rousing success. I wonder if this little “tour” would have happened if the boxes were sold out.   This wasn’t even the worst part, though.  They spent a whole segment, or close to it, discussing Ralph Friedgen’s weight loss. And hey, the man lost 105 pounds. I take my hat off.  Seriously, that’s incredible.  But then he started talking about this great diet company he hooked up with, and how he can eat the food he wants, and how it fits with his lifestyle, and etc.  They even interviewed the diet company guy — wearing his gay diet company logo-emblazoned golf shirt, no less — who was all like “[Diet company name redacted] was just so happy that our delicious line of entrees were able to” blah blah blah.  What?  But the coup d’etat was 10 solid seconds of Ralph eating one of the diet company bars. Just sitting at his desk. Eating the bar and smiling with chocolate all in his teeth. That airtime could have contained something interesting. But no.  Had to get the pitch in.  Sure, Fridge!  No prob, we’ll do it for ya!  What angle should we film you at while you’re eating the bar?  Before you eat it all, can we do an interview with the remnants of the bar? That’d be an awesome get.

Bottom line:  at this time of year, I believe they should be trying to get us fans as pumped up as possible for the season.  Because in the end, isn’t that the best sales pitch of them all?  Word up.

(Photo credit:  Well, I took it, but the image was from Comcast SportsNet)

13
Aug
09

Maryland Athletic Budget Slashed

Well, we kinda saw this coming, but that doesn’t make it any more fun.

The Terps athletic department is cutting $301,000 out of the football budget, according to the Baltimore Sun. That’s about a 3 percent reduction out of a $9.7 million overall budget.

So what are the ramifications. Well, the team now has to take the bus for some of its games, and the PR folks are sending out media guides on CDs instead of printing them. WHAT? Unacceptable. Oh wait…they won’t give a lowly blogger like me the time of day anyway. At least, I imagine they would not, if they knew I existed.

Lots of other sports are also affected. Men’s basketball, which has a $4.4 million budget, was trimmed $137,786, or about 3.1 percent. Women’s basketball saw its budget – about $2.6 million – cut $61,583, or about 2.4 percent. The “Olympic sports” of swimming and diving, track and field, gymnastics, tennis and other sports, are being cut by 9 percent (tennis is an Olympic sport?). Lots of Ramen noodles in their future, I’m afraid.

The good news is that it seems like no sports will be eliminated barring some catastrophe. AD Debbie Yow said “I’m pretty steadfast on the 27 [sports]. We’re just going to get through this period.”

So just a little general belt-tightening. It’s understandable. It could be worse. Besides, riding the bus builds character.

03
Aug
09

Are Maryland sports headed for leaner times?

I don’t have a lot of what you might call business acumen. I have no appetite for what some might refer to as “financial news.” I’m not someone who’s going to “check the stock ticker” for “hot tips” about a “company.” I “spend my money” like a “drunken sailor,” with little regard for “long-term prospects.” Instead of a “bank,” I keep my savings in “the toilet tank” of my “bathroom.” If I catch you poking around my toilet tank, I will “brain” you with a “tire iron.”

Nevertheless, I’ve been reading with interest a recent article series in the Orlando Sentinel about the economics of big-time college sports in the current economy. In part 1 of the series, who should be quoted but one Dr. William Kirwan, chancellor of a little system called the University of Maryland. His somewhat omnipotent position means his opinion might be somewhat important. Let’s take a look:

“Universities across the country are on the horns of a dilemma. We’ve built this enterprise with an insatiable appetite but we no longer have the revenue to feed it. We’re going to have to come to grips with that fact and move to a more rational model.”

Hmmm. The horns of a dilemma, you say. I can relate. Because I find myself astride the saddle of dubiousness, nervously eyeing the bucking flanks of programmatic instability. A more rational model for our athletic programs? Step back from the brink, doctor. After all, those posh new luxury suites don’t just undersell themselves. That takes capital, my friend. The mean green. The almighty somolean.

I was talking about something. Oh right, the overall point is, a lot of big college sports programs are high-profile but currently unprofitable ventures. And as education cuts and layoffs at universities (including good old UMCP) continue, soon, the argument goes, they will have little choice but to consider slashing athletic budgets. The average university athletic budget is $36 million. That’s a lot. Especially when people are losing their jobs. But let me ask you one question: do you want to be the one to tell Timmy there will be no water polo team this year? That the mirrors on the weight room walls will not be re-silvered as planned, thus gravely endangering douchey flex rates? Don’t kid yourself. Those are tough conversations to have. I don’t care who you are.

So what about Maryland? According to the Sentinel’s rankings (via The Diamondback and provided by the education department), Maryland ranks 41st out of the 118 Division 1-A schools, raking in more than $54 million. Not bad, not bad. However, how does it compare to what was spent? I couldn’t find this year’s athletic budget, but back in 2006 it was $51.2 million, and I’m guessing it hasn’t gone down. For comparision’s sake, the entire UM system’s budget shortfall is $37.8 million.

I may not know the difference between a “dime” and a “nickel,” but it’s not hard to see that the big universities are in a cutthroat competition for bragging rights on championship trophies, facilities, recruits, and the rest of it, and view athletics as a key part of a school’s reputation and “brand.” But if the operation isn’t making money — and maybe even coming at the expense of education programs, people’s livelihoods, or both — then, yeah, okay, it’s probably time to revisit. No one wants to see the athletic programs lose steam, and everyone knows about The Flutie Effect (just ask George Mason), but something tells me a tipping point is inevitable. Whether it affects the product on the playing field — and how or whether it will affect different schools in different ways — is the real question. I guess only TIME….will tell….




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