Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said Thursday he does not anticipate any scheduling issues after the ACC’s decision last week to scrap plans for nine conference games.
The Terrapins have nonconference games against West Virginia (in Baltimore) and Connecticut (on the road) set for 2013. With a 12-game schedule, Maryland has two dates to fill to complete its schedule for next season.
“We have both of them filled,” Anderson said. “We just don’t have the signed contracts right now.”
The ACC voted in February to expand to a nine-game league schedule after Pittsburgh and Syracuse were invited to join what will become a 14-team conference next year. Last month, the ACC announced a football scheduling partnership with Notre Dame in conjunction with the Fighting Irish accepting an invitation to join the league in all sports but football.
Notre Dame will play five ACC opponents each year, with every school facing the Irish once in a three-year span. That, in turn, led to shifting back to an eight-game slate.
Given the nature of football scheduling, when series are agreed upon sometimes a decade in advance, the sudden scheduling vacancies could create headaches throughout the ACC.
Anderson said Maryland was in the process of moving some games, but the return to eight league games means it is no longer necessary.
“There’s a couple holes we have to fill, but nothing that’s of a big concern for us right now,” Anderson said. “So I think we’re OK with that. The challenge is going to be when Notre Dame comes and if they start playing in ‘14, where they’re going to put them and who they’re going to put them up against because then we might have to move some people around or buy out of some games.”
For now, Maryland still needs at least one game in 2014, 2015 and 2016:
* Anderson said Maryland is locked into contracts with James Madison, Rutgers and West Virginia in 2014. All three games are expected to be in College Park.
* Bowling Green, Richmond and West Virginia remain the core of the 2015 nonconference schedule, with West Virginia on the road.
* Anderson said the Terps have a signed contract with Central Florida to visit Byrd Stadium in 2016. Howard will also come to College Park, while Maryland will face West Virginia on the road that season.
It is unlikely Maryland will be forced to play a nonconference game against a team from the ACC’s Coastal Division to fill an opening.
“Initially, I think we all sat down and talked about that,” Anderson said. “I think that could have been a strong possibility that we would have had to go to the other division and say ‘Hey, do you want to play and have it be nonconference?’ I can imagine some of my colleagues might be doing that.”
While there are extra game contracts for Maryland to hammer out, Anderson said the return to eight league games offers greater flexibility moving forward.
The Terps are required to play at least six home games every year based on its obligations to suiteholders; in even-numbered years, Maryland would have played four league home games and had only three other contests to schedule under a nine-game conference schedule.
With a little more wiggle room, the Terps could re-establish an annual game in Baltimore. Maryland has played only three games there in the last 20 years, but is scheduled to play there in 2013 and 2014.
“It’s very important for us to go back to the old tradition of having a game in Baltimore, so that’s some of the things we’ve been talking about working on as well that we would like to do that as much as possible. …,” Anderson said. “[Coach] Randy [Edsall]’s done a great job of going into the Baltimore area and recruiting, so from a recruiting standpoint, it’s important for us as well.”
Anderson also re-iterated he anticipates the 2014 game against Virginia Tech in Baltimore —- which on the surface might be in peril because the Terps will play only one Coastal Division team other than Virginia that season —- will be played. The ACC has not revealed a schedule rotation for beyond this season.
“We have talked about it to the conference and I think they know it’s an important game for us,” Anderson said. “The history since I’ve been here in working with the conference and the office, they have been very supportive and cooperative so I would think there is nothing to worry about. But stranger things do happen.”
—- Patrick Stevens