Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
August 25, 2003
- In late August, Maryland remained just a bit short in its drive to sell 30,000 season tickets for 2003, but the campaign nonetheless was a success. Coach Ralph Friedgen was in disbelief over the fact that the Terrapins had only 13,000 season-ticket holders when he arrived in 2001, and he has pushed hard to improve that figure. Although the exact 2003 numbers weren't available at press time, Maryland set a school record with more than 29,000 season tickets sold. Athletic officials long ago emphasized that the fans' level of commitment is directly tied to their long-term goal of expanding Byrd Stadium to 60,000 seats.
- Attrition has not been a major problem under Friedgen, but there were some unexpected losses between the end of 2002 and the start of 2003, most notably highly touted redshirt freshman Randy Earle. Earle, a defensive end from New York, received national attention prior to stepping foot on the College Park campus as a result of his sad story of losing both parents and a sibling to AIDS. He left school in January for personal reasons but returned in June to attend summer school and became eligible. However, he left the program again just prior to the start of preseason practice and was considering a transfer to Division I-AA Hofstra. Randy wants to be closer to home, where he can get some support, Friedgen said. I really hope things work out for him. In other news: Robert Jenkins, a junior college signee expected to provide immediate help at center, had academic difficulties that will force him to take a redshirt season. The 300-pounder, who enrolled in January and was impressive during spring camp, is allowed to practice with the team. Mike Whaley, a one-time starter at the Leo position, was not successful in his bid to rejoin the program after spending a year at Prince George's Community College. Landon Jones, a seldom-used defensive lineman, was the only other scholarship player to depart since the end of spring practice. The attrition solved a problem for Friedgen, who had projected to be over the NCAA's 85-scholarship limit with the arrival of 19 freshmen. The coach even was able to bring in 2003 signee Dre Moore, a lineman who originally was slated to arrive in January.
- Maryland has three week-night games on the schedule. The season opener at Northern Illinois (Aug. 28), along with ACC contests at Georgia Tech (Oct. 23) and home versus Virginia (Nov. 13), all are slated for Thursday. Some fans complained about the high number of Thursday night contests, saying they'd interfere with their traditional Saturday routine. That angered Friedgen, who said the national recognition that comes from appearing on ESPN far outweighs any negatives. You have to understand the power of TV and the exposure you get as a result, Friedgen said. We're the only game on TV that night, so to not take advantage of that because some fans are out of their comfort zone is foolish. I'm thinking of what's good for the whole program. The exposure that Maryland will receive as an institution we couldn't pay for that type of advertising. If television wants to honor us with that opportunity, I think there are too many pluses not to take advantage.