Mike Krzyzewski spots a thick irony underlying Maryland’s decision to skip leagues.
Maryland, which has spent the better pat of the last decade trying to validate itself as a worthy rival of Duke, is squelching any hopes of cultivating a lasting rivalry by backing out of the ACC.
The Hall of Fame head coach took one thinly-veiled swipe at the renegade Terrapins following Duke’s two-point loss to Maryland on Saturday, in what was likely the last game played at the Comcast Center between the two schools as ACC members.
”We don’t look at rivalries. We look at each opponent the same. I’ve said that every time I’ve come here. I have a great deal of respect for Maryland. If it was such a rivalry they’d still be in the ACC. Obviously they don’t think it’s that important, or they wouldn’t be in the Big Ten.”
At the core of Maryland’s decision to trade conference hats is a debt-ridden athletics department that has dropped seven programs over the summer to thin its $5 million annual deficit. If the school can negotiate-down the ACC’s $50 million exit fee, the enhanced earnings potential in the Big Ten — thanks to the league’s heightened football profile — would help balance the university’s bottom line. Maryland would be guaranteed close to $8 million more in guaranteed annual revenue in the Big Ten than it would in the the league it helped found in 1953.
In one final kick to the keister, Krzyzewski intimated Maryland was no more of a rival than any other ACC school anyway.
I respect their basketball program and the job their coaches have done and their players have done over the years. We’ve had some great games with them, but we have great games against a lot of people. A lot of people want to beat us, and they’re one of them.
Translation: Maryland is no different to Duke than Wake Forest, N.C. State, Florida State or the last team to knock off the Blue Devils on the schedule. Coach K believes the Terps are on equal footing with the rest of the league, short of North Carolina. He’s not wrong. In fact, Maryland’s “just another one of them” reputation facilitated the school’s release.
Truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard governing when the conference carousel is acceptable. Maryland has been a misfit in the ACC since the league targeted southward expansion — excluding a stretch of heated, pent-up rivalries with Duke in the late 90s and early 2000s — and a change of scenery was reasonable, if not necessary. The appeal of makeshift, loosely reciprocated rivalries never advanced Maryland’s tenuous attachment to the ACC. It further severed it.
Mounds of debt drove Maryland to the Big Ten, but the absence of a true ACC rival was the escort that sped up the travel notwithstanding Duke’s road barriers.