COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 05: Holder Michael Tart #29 celebrates a late fourth quarter field goal with kicker Nick Ferrara #43 of the Maryland Terrapins against the Miami Hurricanes at Byrd Stadium on September 5, 2011 in College Park, Maryland. Maryland won 32-24. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Even if you didn’t like Maryland’s uniforms, you might at least want to admit that they are good for a program on the rise.
So you didn’t like the Maryland uniforms unveiled in the Terps' 32-24 win over Miami? That’s okay. You’re not alone.
But let’s take a step back and imagine a world where the Maryland Terrapins didn’t wear those new Under Armour uniforms on Monday night. Imagine that they didn’t split two perfectly good helmets in half and combine them. Imagine if they had just worn those same old white helmets with cursive red lettering.
The Terps may have gotten a full segment of talk on the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan, but not the full hour that they actually got Tuesday morning. The word Maryland wouldn’t have crossed the lips of either host of Mike And Mike In the Morning across the dial on ESPN 980. LeBron James would have been tweeting about something else. Sure, Maryland’s 32-24 win over Miami still would have been the lead story here on SB Nation D.C., but would it be the top story at SBNation.com? I doubt it.
The uniform’s most avid critics will tell you that bad press is bad for the team. It isn’t. Every sports fan in the country has seen Maryland’s uniform by now, and most of them are at least aware that the Terps and new head coach Randy Edsall earned the big win they were looking for over Miami.
As a life-long Maryland resident, I loved the uniforms. I take pride in my state, and so it’s great to see my state’s flag represented on ESPN. As a Maryland alumnus though, I have mixed feelings, because the Maryland brand is changing. The Terps t-shirt that I got for free from the Maryland Book Exchange my freshman year is quickly becoming irrelevant. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the brand needed changing. Maryland wasn’t a recognizable national brand before. Now it is.
In fact, my only complaint about the uniforms is that the Terrapins won’t be wearing them more often. I want to see those multi-faceted shoulder pads every time they suit up for a big game at Byrd Stadium. Or at least every time they’re on national TV.
Those that watched a game saw a good one. They saw a defense that can force turnovers and even put points on the board. They saw an offense with the capability of moving the ball down the field on almost every single drive. Of course the red zone offense could be better, but the potential is certainly there. Getting star running back D.J. Adams back from suspension will certainly help. But not giving up penalties when you’ve forced a third-and-17 on the edge of field goal range will help too. Maryland must cut out the mental errors if they want to make noise in the ACC.
The Terrapins might actually be the "sleeping giant" that ESPN analyst Mark May said they are on TV. Edsall inherited a great team from Ralph Friedgen, and the new coach may be just what the Terrapins need to take the next step. There’s no reason why Maryland shouldn’t be competing with Virginia Tech for ACC titles on an annual basis.
For years, UMD fans have complained that the best athletes from the state of Maryland never seem to want to go to school in College Park. Darnell Dockett went to Florida State. Kevin Durant went to Texas. Why? Lots of reasons, surely.
But one reason is that those schools are national brands. They’re recognizable. They’re schools that people talk about. Well at least for one day, the University of Maryland is a school that people are talking about. If a high school star wants to go to a nationally branded university, Maryland might just now be on his list.