1) Why hello again friends from Maryland. It seems crazy that the last time we chatted, you had just taken up the Big Ten's offer to fill all your pockets with money. Everyone seemed pretty copacetic towards the whole thing then. Now that everything has sunk in a little bit, how does the move feel now? Have you started learning about all of our funny little nuances, like, how the heck you fly a plane from Maryland to Lincoln, NE?
We've certainly got more of a vibe for the conference, especially as our first meeting with a Big Ten school since finalizing the move was Iowa. The BHGP folks are a hell of a welcoming party.
As for the move itself, while things have certainly settled, most of the fanbase still feels the same about it the day it was announced: divided. Some (like me) love it. A small minority is still bitter. And the majority have accepted it and moved on but are still a bit wary - of the tradition, culture, travel, whatever. (As a current Midwest resident, I think the culture fits better than most Marylanders know, but that's another discussion.) Certainly, though, the more news that comes out - like the travel subsidy the Big Ten is providing for the first few years - makes things rosier and rosier. And makes that difficult charter a little less annoying.
2) Okay, so let's talk shop. Obviously you are two years out from officially playing football against Big Ten teams, but I am sure Edsall and the boys have started to ramp up the Big Ten recruiting angle. Any changes so far that you can tell, or is this all about raining fire across the ACC?
Edsall and his staff have definitely sold that aspect hard on the trail, exactly as you'd expect. There hasn't been any over-arching discernible change to their strategy, as far as I can tell: the focus is still on locking down the locals as much as possible, only leaving the area for recruits they're really high on, but it's definitely given them another arrow in their quiver. Will Likely, a four-star corner from Florida likely to play immediately, was at least partially swayed by the ability to play in the Big Ten, and several recruits in the 2014 class have said the same. Maryland of course isn't a very glamorous football school, but they do offer an unusual combination: a large school in a metro area with plenty of flash, now in an elite conference with early playing time available. Locals were already taking the Terps seriously, given the Mike Locksley-spearheaded #DMVTOUMD movement (yes, Locks himself tweets that with regularity), but now kids throughout the Midwest and East Coast are giving them a second thought, which is more than was happening before.
3) Since I have zero ties to ACC football, I will be rooting for Maryland loud and proud this season. What should the general expectations be for B1G fans who do likewise? Any chance you knock off everyone and cause chaos on your way to greener pastures?
The baseline expectation for this year is probably six wins. It's perfectly reasonable, considering they got four last year despite playing half the year with no quarterback, and they've only added more and more weapons offensively. It's also the number Randy Edsall needs to reach to keep his job next year. The program is suddenly both monied and sexy, which means he's pretty much out of rope should he underperform again this season.
So much of it really hinges on what happens on defense. The offense will be good, barring some massive surprise: quarterback is unsettled but there are no fewer than five palatable options there, and the skill positions are loaded, up there with the best in the conference. It was the defense that carried Maryland last year, though, and it's there that they also see their biggest losses. Should the young replacements step up in the front seven and play well, and if Edsall can prove capable of coaching a winning team, the Terps actually have the potential to be a bit of a darkhorse in the ACC. Those are a few big ifs, though.
4) What is one player we should hope has a stellar year and doesn't come to the B1G with you? If there isn't one, what are the chances of Edsall coming to the B1G? Heck, what are his chances anyways?
Unless the NFL decides to let Stefon Diggs in the NFL a year early, a few B1G teams will, unfortunately for them, be exposed to the most purely talented player to grace College Park in years. But you guys might be able to avoid having to deal with Deon Long at the same time, if he has a strong enough season. Long, a receiver himself and a D.C. native like Diggs, was the #1 JuCo recruit in the country on Rivals, and has gotten hype as potentially being one-and-done good, with a rare combination of size and athleticism. The presence of Diggs will really open things up for him on the other side, and so long as someone can throw the ball he has the potential to put up some big numbers. Odd to say, given that he hasn't played a game in College Park yet, but he's probably Maryland's best underclassmen draft prospect.
5) Alright, last one. What are you most looking forward to in the Big Ten? I mean, obviously not having your entire athletic department cut to pieces is a plus, but now that we've established some positive vibes, what is it (as a fan) that you can't wait for?
Aside from the dough, two things stand out above the rest. The first: the Big Ten Network. Not necessarily because it's fantastic, but because it's an actual network that will actually carry games, with actual production values. After dealing with the ACC's homemade, straight-out-of-the-90s solution, it'll be night and day. And the second: the Stefon Diggs farewell tour, visiting a few great Midwestern cathedrals of football and terrorizing their big-name opposition, all in the name of the DMV and greater Maryland. He's only been around a year, but he's already a cult hero; he'll savor that opportunity to show the Big Ten what Maryland - not just the University, but the state - can be on the gridiron. And it has the potential to be glorious to watch.
Another special thanks goes out to Ben Broman! Seriously people, you need to keep Testudo Times on your radar. Their community is pretty active, and they definitely are entertaining.