Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

Here on a Sunday night watching the most recent ballyhooed and promoted television event in the history of the last time there was one: Tom Brady’s Return to New England!

Whatever.

At least Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are doing it, so that’s good television.

(By the way, why do people so angrily despise Collinsworth and Joe Buck? Because it’s just something their friends know they do? I don’t understand that. I think Collinsworth is one of the three best football analysts going, along with Troy Aikman and Tony Romo; and that Buck is one of the best and most versatile play-by-play announcers right there with Al Michaels. There … I said it.).

Anyway, as you know, I don’t believe #NFLTheTVShow, but I do watch it. It’s good television, and that, I suppose, is precisely the point. So, on Sunday, we had a big Baltimore Ravens win over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos, another difficult, though hardly unpredictable, loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Green Bay Packers, and a very hopeful and gritty victory by the Washington Football Team over the Atlanta Falcons.

On Saturday, the West Virginia University Mountaineers experienced a difficult loss to Texas Tech, which, not being a WVU fan, doesn’t break my heart, but gives me cause to wonder, because I watch them every week.

But we’re not talking about any of that today, okay? We’ll talk about that later. After all, as Scarlett O’Hara once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

(She said it. I was there.)

No, today, we’re talking about the University of Maryland football Terrapins, who had their shorts, socks and shoes knocked off on Friday night by the Iowa Hawkeyes, 51-14. Or as my WVU friend Kyleena said, “They had their (arses) handed to them.”

Kyleena, of course, has a stubborn sense of humor and conveniently forgets Maryland did defeat West Virginia this season, but, yes, she is correct in this case: Maryland had its (arse) handed to it on Friday night.

I know; because I was there. But I am very happy I was there.

It was Friday Night Football, which I won’t get into here today, in College Park, Maryland, and it was wonderful. The game was a sellout, though there were some empty seats in spots; but it was an electric day on campus for college football, which, at Maryland, isn’t a common occurrence, although, the game with WVU was a big-time day in College Park as well.

That’s the good news. Maryland fans and students were there in full force to support their Terps.

The bad news is, so many people turned out to enthusiastically support their Terps, and the Terps lost. And they lost big. They lost by 37 points and the game wasn’t that close (See Kyleena analysis).

A packed house was on hand on Friday night and, though I am hard on Maryland fans for feeling entitled without having a right to, my guess is most of them were just hoping the Terps could stay with the Hawkeyes and make a game of it to see a hopeful sign that some progression in this massive rebuild being undertaken by head coach Mike Locksley was being made.

That, of course, didn’t happen; at least in the game result, because Maryland football is nowhere near in the class of Iowa football – at least, not yet.

We say not yet, as though there is hope. For a school like Maryland playing in the Big Ten East, though, there may not be great hope.

The Terps are getting better players, far better players, because of Locksley, but do so many stupid little things once the games begin by killing their own drives with undisciplined penalties and inexplicably putting Dontay Demus Jr., their best player, deep to return kickoffs to help make it more possible for him to incur a possible, or likely, season-ending injury.

Which, he did.

No, Maryland can’t go toe-to-toe with Iowa – or Ohio State (this week’s opponent), or most of the teams in their conference division. But talent-wise they’re going to get closer and closer. Yet they cannot afford to rely merely on the improving talent level and ignore the little things it takes for a football team at any level to be successful – particularly in the Big Ten.

Yes, the officiating was horrible. Maryland was the victim of far too many, and far too blatant “new kid in the conference” officiating decisions. But that didn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game. In fact, that Maryland doesn’t do many of the little detail things very well yet is the likely reason most of those calls go the way they do.

You do, after all, reap what you sew.

Terps football has come a long way, and it will continue to come a longer way still. As the lads will find out this Saturday in Columbus, it’s going to have to.

But that’s fine; in fact, it’s perfect. Maryland being in the Big Ten is a great thing for the university. Yet Maryland – beginning with the coaching staff and then transitioning to the fans and the support groups – still must do better if they wish to even be in any type of Big Ten football dialogue.

On an otherwise grand Friday evening in College Park, Maryland, we found this out firsthand.

Mike Burke writes about sports and a lot of other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. 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 mike.burke@wvradio.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT