The Washington Times - July 23, 2008, 10:30AM

Yesterday was “Manufacture Your Own Story” day at the ACC Kickoff event in Greensboro, Ga.

The one in today’s dead tree edition happened to be about the logistics that, at the very least, would make it difficult for Maryland to play in the first Congressional Bowl on Dec. 20.


Maryland‘s last day of final exams happens to be Dec. 20. And while that probably would not be a huge issue —- the only traditional class times that would affect players would be MWF 10 a.m. and MW 9:30 a.m. —- there are other issues.

Namely practice time.

During bowl practice the last couple years, coach Ralph Friedgen has gone fairly light. There’s usually one practice wedged into the weekend, and if memory serves there are a couple weight room sessions with flexible schedule. Ralph talks a lot about the importance of a degree, and this is an instance where he has the chance to put an action (that is, minimal practice) behind his words.

So a serious distraction from exams is one reason it seems unlikely Maryland will find itself in the Congressional Bowl.

Another is being all but guaranteed of not having a full team to practice for Navy in the week leading into the game. Think Ralph wants to have to deal with a triple option offense under the circumstances of losing players to exams each day, especially a triple option offense from a school 30 miles away? And not just a school 30 miles away, but one that still harbors some lingering belief Maryland ducked them two years ago in the postseason.

(This is one argument that seems sort of silly. Maryland wound up in a bowl higher on the ACC‘s pecking order in 2006 —- Champs Sports in Orlando rather than Meineke Car Care in Charlotte against Navy. Of course Maryland’s athletic department would have lobbied for Orlando based on prestige. But it is also fair to point out a reeling Purdue team was a more appealing opponent than Navy, as evidenced by Maryland’s easy victory over the Boilermakers).

But here’s the largest factor why this might not matter at all: Maryland has a chance to be good enough to be long gone by the time the Congressional Bowl gets its ninth pick of ACC teams (if nine are even bowl eligible).

The Terps haven’t played in either Nashville (Music City Bowl) or Charlotte (Meineke Car Care Bowl), and an 8-4 season would almost certainly be enough to get Maryland into one of those two games given the program’s travel history.

It doesn’t mean Maryland won’t ever play in its hometown game, especially if the Congressional Bowl can be shifted into the week between Christmas and New Year’s. But this year it just seems highly unlikely it will happen.

 —- Patrick Stevens