Allegany Communications Sports

The University of Maryland seems to be pushing all of the right buttons top to bottom in its athletic department these days.

The football team has won two straight bowl games, the soccer teams are traditionally strong nationally, wrestling made a gigantic jump on the national scale, while both basketball teams are coming off what were seen to be unthinkable successes at this time last year, and the spring sports continue to grow even stronger, as the baseball and the softball teams have been nationally ranked and the lacrosse teams remain national powers.

Maryland is pushing the right marketing buttons as well, as on Monday, in what might seem to be small beans in the big picture, the athletic department announced it is changing how its football team will be viewed nationally, and it is a change Maryland fans and boosters have wanted to see for years, as the Maryland football team will wear its Script Terps uniforms full-time during the 2023 season and beyond.

“I’m very excited to announce that we are moving back to an iconic uniform, a classic look, something that our fans have been clamoring for for quite some time,” said Athletic Director Damon Evans. “When I think about our illustrious past as it relates to Maryland football, you think about Bobby Ross and Ralph Friedgen and the championship years wearing the Script Terps uniform. This Script Terps uniform embodies who we are, it symbolizes what it means to be a Maryland football player.

“I know our head coach Michael Locksley, someone who grew up in this area, in the DMV, worshiped the Terps in that uniform. Now it’s time for us to pay that homage and push forward, so I’m happy to bring back this iconic look.”

Maryland donned the new-look Script Terps under its new-look head coach, Bobby Ross, in 1982 with the primarily red helmet, and wore that exclusively during the remainder of the 1980s, including in what was the greatest comeback in college football history when the Terps stormed back to shock Miami in the Orange Bowl in 1984.

In fact, if you happen to be at Patrick’s Pub, you’ll see the helmet that former Fort Hill great Pat D’Atri wore in that game in what was one of his greatest games as a Maryland player.

From 2001-10, the team wore the white helmet with the red Script Terp writing on the sides under head coach Ralph Friedgen. Since Locksley’s return in 2019, Maryland has worn the Script Terps uniform at least once each season as it was the favorite Maryland look for the head coach, who specifically requested it for Homecoming, saying at the time, “That talent, that style, it never left. That history, that look, it’s still as strong as ever. It’s iconic. It’s Maryland.”

Since 2011, Maryland’s primary helmet has been the Maryland Pride helmet, which prominently features the Maryland state flag, and it has become a popular look for the Terps, particularly once the designers tightened up and dumbed down the original clown version of it under (fittingly) head coach Randy Edsall. My guess is Maryland will still wear that helmet and the Pride uniform on occasion, perhaps even on Homecoming, but making the move back to the Script was the way to go.

I have liked most, not all (hello, ’90s), of Maryland’s football uniforms dating back to the days of head coach Tom Nugent when a Terps fan could and did proudly say, “We may be bad, but we look good,” and that included the uniforms and the helmets the team wore when I was a student at Maryland (and, no, the helmets were not leather; and, yes, there were facemasks).

Under head coach Jerry Claiborne, Maryland sported what was then kind of an SEC look, topped by a white helmet with a gold stripe bordered by two black stripes going from front to back, with a large gold letterman’s “M” trimmed in black on both sides.

The Terps played rugged, grind-it-out football under Claiborne and their uniform reflected that. Then when Ross succeeded Claiborne and brought his NFL offense to College Park and to quarterback Boomer Esiason, the look to the Script Terps and new marketing (“Terps PASSion” … get it?) took hold, and not only the fans, but the teams embraced it as Maryland was genuinely one of the hottest and most exciting college football programs in the country. In fact, Sport Magazine had Maryland ranked as the preseason No. 1 in the country in 1985.

It’s difficult to say if Maryland can achieve those same heights playing in the Big Ten, for there was more room for error in the ACC. Locksley, however, is intent on taking the Terps to those heights and has done a tremendous job in building Maryland football back into being a winning program.

The excitement surrounding Maryland football is growing and is real and, already, the switch back to Script Terps has pleased the Maryland fanbase, which is what pushing all of the right buttons entails. If everybody at home is happy, then many more are sure to follow.

Hopefully, Maryland has also been pushing the right buttons with Hunter Dickinson; and wouldn’t that be something to see him come back home as well?

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT