Maryland, a team that went 6-7 last year and 3-9 the year before that, feels pretty good about their chances in the conference this year and the future. Too confident? You be the judge.
Three-star Maryland WR recruit Brian Cobbs said this:
"Now people are starting to notice DMV football is just as good as the schools down South as far as getting offers," Cobbs said. "DeMatha does a great job of that, too, getting kids to Maryland. If we can keep those kids around, the Virginia Beach kids, the kids from Maryland, we could really compete in the Big Ten. We could take over the Big Ten."
Echoed by this guy from "Saturday Tradition":
Durkin’s expedited success is hard evidence that Maryland can evolve into a player in the B1G, too. If his effort on the recruiting trail is any indication, it won’t be long before the Terrapins are competing with Meyer’s Buckeyes and Harbaugh’s Wolverines.
Durkin has notched commitments from six recruits with a four-star rating according to 247 Sports. Maryland is on the verge of locking up its highest-ranked recruiting class since such records have been kept. Currently the Terrapins’ 2017 class is No. 15 in the country and third in the B1G.
That’s a good formula for the sustainability of a program.
D.J. Durkin loves to brag about his program. The academics surpass every other university in the conference. In fact, the class standing of the Big Ten across the board rose eighteen percentage points just by adding Maryland. The Terps claim to have more Academic All-Americans than any team in the Big Ten East.
But it's not just about academics. Maryland is even crushing division rivals Ohio State and Michigan in revenue increases to the football program. In just two years, Durkin's Terps have ushered in a forty-five percent growth, more than most of college football's heavyweights.
Skeptics might say that this is simply due to renewed season ticket sales which fell dramatically during Randy Edsall's final season, while others could point to the continued investment by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank as the screen that covers most of the money going into the Maryland program. Durkin likes to say it's because Maryland is simply becoming "The Class of the Big Ten."
No other Big Ten university has a donor like Plank. Clearly his contributions through Under Armour, which include numerous uniform variations, have piqued the interests of the nation's top recruits.
Could this signal an era where Maryland's stellar recruiting takes over the division? Alumni certainly think so. A recent poll by Maryland's athletic department indicates that 79 percent of alumni believe D.J. Durkin will eventually surpass Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio as the winningest and highest paid coach in the division, second only to OSU's Meyer.
Maryland's D.J. Durkin's high energy and recruiting prowess give the Terps the best chance at becoming a football powerhouse in college football's toughest division.
He is more likable than Jim Harbaugh, who seems to attract more eye-rolls from the national media than any other college football coach, and is more ethical than Penn State's James Franklin, who shepherds a program that lucked its way into the conference championship game.
While Durkin has a long way to go in becoming as proven as Ohio State's Urban Meyer, it's easy to see Maryland rising to the top of the division if Durkin continues the strides he's making in recruiting.
Team to Watch: Maryland. You talk to any Terrapin coach, player, alumnus, or fan and they'll all tell you the same thing - Maryland is on the rise and could take over the Big Ten. While it may be difficult to see the Terps overtaking Urban Meyer, James Franklin, or Jim Harbaugh in 2017, don't rule it out. DMV recruits are buying what D.J. Durkin is selling.
The Washington D.C. area is home to some of the best recruits in the entire nation, and Durkin has the inside track. If Maryland can keep the talent home and convince these great prospects to play for the Terps, the sky is the limit for Durkin's program. Every year he pulls in more DMV players, the Big Ten East looks more winnable.
Who is better, Jim Harbaugh or D.J. Durkin?
Edge to Harbaugh right now, but give D.J. time.
Harbaugh may have the Super Bowl resume (even though he never actually won one), but he has failed to win even his own division. D.J. Durkin is a younger version of Harbaugh, but more energetic, more likable, and a better recruiter. Don't be surprised to see Michigan fall off the map once Harbaugh takes an NFL job, and Maryland steps into its slot.
Maryland has the toughest schedule in college football this year, should they really be taunting their divisional rivals?
It's always interesting perusing the college football blogosphere and seeing what other fans think of our situation with Harbaugh. Obviously most of the time it is negative. We all know that Michigan creates ire everywhere just by being Michigan, and that is doubly compounded by Harbaugh.
Notre Dame has always struck me as an odd animal for offering criticism. Eric Murtaugh, a longtime ND blogger and noted M-hater from One Foot Down, has a new blog called 18 stripes, and never misses a chance to rip on M.
Excerpt from one of his more recent posts:
2017 seems like the year a long honeymoon starts ending for Harbaugh in Ann Arbor – expectations for year three will still be extremely high despite massive turnover on both sides of the ball. The schedule isn’t kind to the Wolverines either – they open in Dallas against Florida and down the stretch face road games at Happy Valley and Camp Randall before hosting Ohio State.
Michigan has recruited well enough that the floor remains high, but a step back even to 9-4 could start bending perceptions of Harbaugh from “crazy genius” back toward “just insane”.
This is a common thread among ND writers/fans. I've seen it from MSU and OSU fans too, but on this particular occasion I've limited my perusing to Irish corners.
Following is some additional noteworthy commentary. (Sources at the bottom)
You have to hand it to Michigan. There was no one - at least, no one who wasn't living in the fantasy land known as Ann Arbor - who genuinely believed that Harbaugh would leave the NFL for Michigan, even if it was his alma mater. The Wolverines were abysmal following the 2014 season, where they fell to 5-7 amidst blowouts, a concussion scandal, and the resignation of the athletic director - the very definition of a college football tire fire. Why would any coach with options walk into that?
Then when you realize Harbaugh is actually insane by clinical definitions it becomes easier to understand why he took the job. Of course, that won't stop the fans from eating him alive when he loses a third straight time to Ohio State. All the goodwill Harbaugh has built up from his two seasons will vanish come 4 p.m. on November 25th.
When does the Harbaugh honeymoon end?
The answer is obvious: 2017. Harbaugh is the only Michigan coach besides Rich Rodriguez to fail to beat the Buckeyes in his first two seasons. It's hard to see a triumphant Michigan squad succeed this year, either. They return so little that the losses spell doom for the Wolverines so much it could result in a 9-win season. That will prompt the very real grumbles from Michigan fans that Harbaugh isn't the right guy after all. The so-called Maize and Blue faithful can only take the abuse from Urban Meyer for so long before they decide it's time for a change.
Notre Dame only wishes it could play Michigan this year, when the Wolverines' loss of so many starters means the chance of a crushing defeat at the hands of the Irish would be surprisingly favorable. Alas, they'll have to wait until 2018, when the Wolverines will be a title contender.
Will Harbaugh still be the coach by then? Keep your eye on the game against Ohio State at noon on November 25. If the Wolverines lose that one (again), Harbaugh might just be given his walking papers, even if he's 11-1. Common sense tells us to never underestimate the delusional arrogance of Michigan fans.
In other news, Notre Dame went 4-8 last season.
Ivan Maisel has an interesting piece on the roots of the Fielding Yost and Knute Rockne feud. It's a concise snapshot of the roots of the rivalry, and good fodder for the "slow season" we're in right now. The article is here: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7954463/hate-fueled-football-great-rivalries .
I've always enjoyed the rivalry, finding the Irish to be one of the classier rival fan bases, and less prone to cooler-pooping and couch-burning than some fan bases. Yost's delight in running up points and pissing off opposing coaches with a sharp tongue makes me think of him as an earlier-day Steve Spurrier type.
Choice bits from the Maisel article include:
When Yost became head coach in 1901, he transformed the Wolverines into the most dominant program in the nation. Michigan didn't lose a game under Yost until 1905. These were known as the "Point-A-Minute" teams, both for their margins of victory and to reflect the head coach's personality. Chicago sportswriter Hugh Fullerton would describe Yost's methods as "tramp on the injured and hurdle the dead."
Yost believed Rockne cut corners in recruiting, promising employment and scholarship aid that the rules did not allow and looking the other way when Irish players participated in pro football games on the side.