You have to feel for the Maryland players that were hoping to go somewhere better than the Military Bowl against East Carolina. They proved their worth on the field, putting together a banner 8-4 season that included a big win over North Carolina State in the final game of the regular season.
But truth be told, the writing was on the wall for some time. Maryland may have impressed when they played, but the empty crowds at Byrd Stadium told bowl executives everything they needed to know. Diehard fans certainly did their job, but by and large, if fans are annoyed their team got placed in a lesser bowl, the best thing they can do about it is to actually show up to games. As SB Nation's Maryland blog Testudo Times writes, this was something that was certainly within fans' control.
I'm a little tired of hearing, though, that the program and fans were victimized, screwed over, and punished by a broken system that emphasizes economics over all else. Does it suck? Yep. But Maryland's a big, state university located in a large metro area that's seen fan support in the past. This ain't Wake Forest. Maryland should have fan support. They just didn't get it this year.
When fans aren't going to games in College Park, you can't blame bowl organizers for worrying about the fans' ability to travel to Orlando to Nashville. It's a financial process for the bowls, as are most things in college sports, and we all knew that going in.
Testudo Times concludes by saying he feels sorry for the players, but not for the program.
The players were victimized; the program wasn't.
This is certainly something for coach Ralph Friedgen and athletic director Kevin Anderson to chew on in the coming weeks and months. It's not their fault, of course, that fans didn't show up like they do at other schools, but if there's a way for them to do something about it beyond performing on the field, they should find a way to figure out what that something is.