Monday, August 21, 2006

Hurray for corporate money!

Comcast SportsNet signed a 3 year deal with Maryland to broadcast a variety of Terrapin sports including football and men's basketball. Clearly Comcast wanted to lock up the premier college sports package in the area and prevent Peter Angelos' MASN from somehow acquiring the best broadcast rights outside of the professional leagues in the Baltimore and Washington markets.

Comcast will broadcast up to 42 ACC men's basketball games and have weekly shows with Ralph Friedgen and Gary Williams. A "Terrapin Replay" of Maryland football will occur on Sundays from 7-10pm during the season, including exclusive tape delay broadcasts of the games against Williams and Mary, Florida International and Middle Tennessee.

Chevy Chase Bank signed a deal for naming rights for the field at Byrd Stadium. The 25 year deal will pay $20 million dollars towards the proposed renovation of Byrd Stadium which will cost at least $50 million. Get used to the foam Chevy Chase Bank card mascot prancing around Byrd Stadium and more annoying TV timeout promotions like the ones at Comcast Center. This kind of thing is the reality of college sports these days and the disconnect between the university and the purpose of its revenue sports has never been more pronounced.

The renovation will mostly benefit corporate donors and big money boosters as the main goal of the project is to generate the lucrative luxury boxes that all football programs lust after. I'm not sure how many luxury boxes will get sold if the team keeps going 5-6 every year but that wasn't part of the thinking in the AD's office. After all the last capital project was the upper deck which was built back when Maryland football was lucky to draw 30,000 per game. It didn't matter that the upper deck was half empty every year until Ralph Friedgen came along and started winning. Clearly with all the half-baked talk about the naming rights being a step towards a "national champion" caliber program the expectation among the heavy hitters is that the football program will be back to its winning ways this season.

Football News

Coach Ralph Friedgen can't seem to decide which kicker to name as his guy as he went from declaring Obi Egekeze as the current leader of the kicking contest with Dan Ennis earlier this week to now saying that it is a dead heat. Egekeze has the better leg of the two and Ennis has struggled badly since the middle of last season. Ennis doesn't have much range outside 40 yards and unless Egekeze really falters in the next couple of weeks you can expect him to handle field goal duties. That the competition is still ongoing suggest to me that neither kicker has performed very well and that the Terps better not count on too many close victories. The post Nick Novak era hasn't been very good for Ralph Friedgen who won many close games on Novak's leg.

Safety Jamari McCollough will miss the entire season with a knee injury. This turns what looked like a deep position into a thin one. The Jack Kerouac routine of Navy transfer Hunter Reddick means that the safety position is down two from where it was in the spring.

Wideout Darrius Heyward-Bay, linebacker Erin Henderson and corner Isaiah Gardner are all battling minor injuries.

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