Keeping the Enemy Close: Bad Teams, Bad Unis, Bad Fit

Welcome to your new reality!

Much like the soggy, tasteless flesh of a Maryland blue, this hate took some serious effort to get to and it just was not worth it. Mainline some crappy fish-flavored salt to make the pain go away and join me in a thought exercise, won't you?

We all remember the new kid in class when we were in elementary school.

You show up to school one day, fresh off the most recent Pokemon battle, or Pogs throwdown, or game of hopscotch, or bout with cholera, depending on how old you happen to be. The teacher calls for quiet, and you notice a kid you don't recognize standing at the front of the room, looking all shy and sheepish. Teach tells you his or her name, then points the noob to a desk, where they sit, visibly nervous.

The acclimation process takes a little time, doesn't it? At first, your new classmate (we'll name the tyke Yertle) mostly keeps to himself, trying to get familiar with everything. He eats by himself, doesn't do much on the playground, doesn't talk much if he can avoid it. If your school was less than a paragon of new-age education, the new kid probably took a few ass-kickings from the bullies. In retrospect, you can't blame him for not fitting in. He left behind everything he knew and was dropped, through no choice of his own, into new, strange, sometimes hostile surroundings.

One of two things will happen over time. The better alternative is that eventually, things get less weird. He gets a little more confident as increased exposure to the other kids makes them realize he's not so bad, and he accepts that things which are different aren't necessarily worse than what he was used to. As time passes, everything normalizes and after a while, it's like he's always been one of you.

There's another way Yertle can handle his transition, though. Upon his introduction, he might decide to make a splash in hopes of accelerating the transition to normalcy. Being but a child, he might decide to do something along the lines of shouting, after being introduced by the teacher, "My OLD SCHOOL'S desks and chalkboard are SO MUCH BETTER, this place is such a DUMP, why do any of you stupid fucks even live here?!"

Of course, this is where the story breaks a bit from reality, because the only teacher-figure analog we have in real life is Jim Delany, and he's too busy Scrooge McDucking into TV money to bother with properly introducing the new kid. But, placing the existing B1G fans in the shoes of the rest of the class, you see the similarity: one day, out of the clear blue sky, teacher announces to all of us that we must now coexist with this self-satisfied little prick, as well as the other new kid from New Jersey who won't stop eating paste and declaring that he's peed his pants (hey, at least he's happy to be here). Moreover, for some of us, the new kids are now replacing friends we have known since infancy in our work groups, meaning we don't get to see as much of the people who have come to define what going to school means to us.

Let's compare that simple act of switching elementary schools to the way Maryland fans have approached their entrance into the most accomplished intercollegiate consortium in the world.

Remember this insanity? You laxbros spent hours and shat out hundreds of comments trying to argue that your proximity to the East Coast's museums made you superior (and so help me Biggie, if I see a single grammar nitpick in the comments I will swing the banhammer with the fury of Thor. You are all better than that and I will not permit you to forget it). Personally, that was the first interaction I've ever had with Maryland fans, and that's the direction you chose to take it. Interesting decision.

And if this week is any indication, you sure as hell intend to stay the course. Friends, long have I wandered the blogosphere. I have visited locations as exotic as Florida State and Alabama blogs full of types who make Harvey Updyke look like Oprah. I've even strayed into MGoBlog, the Mos Eisley of internet sports blogs. And I've never seen this kind of tribalistic, rec-circle-jerking, hypersensitive spasticity in my life. If you don't all chill the fuck out, you will completely vindicate every negative thing we've ever thought about you, and plenty of new ones, too.

I hate you, Maryland. I hate you for the same multiple, well-known reasons that everyone from Happy Valley to Lincoln hates you: I hate you because you mean nothing to me, and that's not what a conference opponent is. I hate you because your carousel of ridiculous uniforms prevents me from even having a clear picture of you in my head. I hate you because my team must trade treasured matchups with like-minded programs and fanbases in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska for trips to your second-rate stadium, half-full of disinterested fans. I hate you because of how blatant of a money grab our extending an invitation to you was, and because of how illusory that money might end up being in a few years (though it's true those things are not strictly your fault).

But most of all, I hate you because, placed in Yertle's shoes, you chose, and continue to choose, door number two. The moment you had a chance to interact with your new playmates, you screamed your superiority from the rooftops. You made absurd claims to ownership of and association with essentially the entire eastern seaboard when, despite being 10 miles from the nation's capital, you can't fill your stadium with a sampling of the millions of people you could be drawing if your teams were any good. I'm not even going to go into your interactions with Penn State fans over the past week, I'll just don my admin hat for a second and say if you think that kind of inanity is welcome here, you have badly misjudged the extent to which our Midwestern manners will force us to tolerate you. In stereotypical East Coast fashion, you think you are better than us, and you will learn two things about that assessment. First, it will not make you any friends 'round these parts. But we understand perfectly well why you act this way, and it's because of the second thing you are wrong about.

Indeed, there's an obvious reason Yertle is bragging about his old school instead of himself, and it's the same reason the laxbros we've seen around here prefer to brag about museums instead of their sports teams (as though museums have anything to do with what we're here for). It's because he sees the quality of the class's work hanging on the wall, and he knows in his heart that this is going to be a long, brutal, uphill climb. He sees the eager malice in the eyes of his new classmates, separated from old friends by Yertle's mere presence, a malice that tells him terrible things are going to happen to him on the playground.

The second thing you are wrong about is your belief that you not only belong on the same field as our teams, but that you will succeed. You will not, and man oh man, are the beatings coming. Take a look at Maryland's schedule, if you're unfamiliar. I don't know enough about Syracuse or West Virginia to say if Maryland's likely to beat either or both, but I rather doubt a non-con sweep is in the offing. For your own sake, I hope you can handle Indiana, even on the road. But starting October 4th, you are going to be in a world of pain, probably to the tune of 6 consecutive losses. Assuming you can still field a complete team for Senior Day, you should be able to pull out a win against paste-eating Rutgers to wrap up the season.

Convince me I'm wrong. Point to a football, basketball, or hockey (never mind) accomplishment in the last decade, or hell, further back by a coach that Maryland hasn't idiotically chased out of town, that makes you think Maryland athletics is destined for anything greater than mediocrity. Go on, I'll wait.

/begins Moby Dick

//finishes

...Nothing, huh.

This is your reality now, Maryland. You, like young Yertle, have a choice to make: take account of what you really have to offer, what we have to offer you, and make an appropriate effort to belong, or resist, lash out, fling electronic feces as you've been doing all week, and alienate anyone who might have extended a welcoming hand to you, and make your adjustment worse by doing so. Here's what you have to offer: a bankrupt athletics department that can count its conference titles in basketball and football in the last 25 years on one hand. A team with one national title in each in over a century of competition. Don't bring up Purdue right now, they put people in fucking space. And even they have arguably accomplished more in their miserable history than you have.

Accept your place, or don't. It makes little difference other than precisely how sore your butthurt will be at season's end. Because you have obliteration coming your way on the gridiron. Relieved you're escaping Florida State? Meet the Buckeyes. Thankful Clemson isn't going to run circles around you anymore? Wait til Penn State gets ahold of you, they've been wanting Mid-Atlantic playmates for a long time. And from there, it gets worse. There's no comparison in the ACC to MSU's anaconda defense or Wisconsin's steamroller run game or the noxious arrogance of Michigan's fanbase. Hang on, I take that back. You did have to endure Duke, so you're probably ready for that part. If you come to hate them (you will), they'll probably even take the trouble to tell you how much of a rival you aren't, so in that sense things will be as they ever were.

Point is, in the ACC, there were plenty of underachievers just like you to blend in with, trade wins and losses with so that everybody got to go to...whatever the ACC's equivalent of the Pizza Bowl is. Now, you live in a world of old giants and new. Your only solace is Indiana and the other new guy. Congratulations on your 2-4 division mark, let's check the standings- yeah, that isn't going to win you any division titles, but perhaps MSU or OSU will send you a postcard from Indy.

You now compete for attention and recruits with college football's biggest names, and this season, you face no less than seven teams that are indisputably better than you. Meet the new bosses, same as and more numerous than the old bosses. This ends in tears, and most likely Ro*tel, for you. And you know it.

I bet you can't help yourselves. I BET you'll talk about anything other than sports in the comments. Because you know what a sorry excuse for an athletic department you have to represent you to the rest of us. You're sending Edsall against Meyer, Dantonio, and Franklin. You're sending Turgeon against Izzo, Ryan, and Beilein. And no, no one here gives a flying fuck about lacrosse, so don't even bring it up. Our privilegestick game is played on ice, as the Founding Fathers and God intended. I can't wait to see what else you try to bring up, what else you try to claim makes you superior. Old Bay and mediocre seafood will probably come up, as though flavored salt on ocean bug meat redeems you in some way. I'd guess museums, but that's so 2013. I can't wait to see the gymnastics you'll go through to dodge the inescapable reality:

You are second-rate in the only thing we're here to talk about.

And that's never going to change.

Welcome to the conference.

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