- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

Maryland and Navy are two football programs going in opposite directions. The Terps, fresh off their first major bowl game in a quarter-century, are threatening to break into the Top 25 again this season. Navy, meanwhile, is 1-7 and has given up 40 or more points in six games.

So it's hard to get very excited about the news that the schools will open the season against each other in 2005 and that Ralph Friedgen and Debbie Yow wouldn't mind playing the Mids on a regular basis. If the point of a Maryland-Navy game three years hence is to mend fences, I'm all for that. It's ridiculous that relations between the institutions have been strained because of some incidents that took place in the '60s. But I'm not too keen on the idea of the Terps trampling the Mids like some homecoming opponent every year. I can't imagine it adding much to the quality of our sporting life.

Times have changed greatly both in College Park and Annapolis since Maryland and Navy last met on the football field in 1965. Back then, the Mids were only two years removed from a Heisman Trophy (Roger Staubach's). The Terps, on the other hand, were in the midst of 10 straight non-winning seasons. (In '67, they went 0-9 and scored only 46 points, less than they scored against West Virginia four weeks ago.)

Navy beat Maryland in '63 and '65; Maryland beat Navy in '64. It was a competitive, if not particularly compelling, rivalry.

It figures to be anything but competitive now, though. Maybe Paul Johnson, winner of two I-AA championships at Georgia Southern, will make the Mids respectable again, but other coaches with sterling credentials have tried and failed. And frankly, Johnson doesn't sound all that enthusiastic himself about taking on the Terps. Maryland, after all, has aspirations of becoming a big-time football school; Navy has and always will have Other Goals.

By '05, the gap between the two programs could be wider than it is now, not narrower. In fact, it wouldn't be a total shock if the Terps tossed the Mids around the way the Mids used to toss them around in the beginning, when Navy was a national power (e.g. 57-0 in 1908, 76-0 in '13 and 62-0 in '17). Won't happen, you say? Well, the Mids did lose to N.C. State earlier this season 65-19.

And it's easy to see why. Football has become a game of mutants on most college campuses, but at the academy they're still playing with 5-foot-11 outside linebackers who weigh 204 and 218 pounds. (If they weighed any more than that, Navy's boats would sink.)

Heck, Maryland probably has some cheerleaders who go more than 204.

The guys, I mean.

Actually, Maryland and Navy didn't play each other all that much in the old days 19 times in 41 seasons, not once from 1935 to '49 so why should they start now? If they want to meet occasionally just to be neighborly or to make a few extra bucks for the field hockey team to spend fine, but let's not go, uh, overboard.

Football, I hasten to remind you, isn't like basketball. Chaminade never beats Virginia in football. Chaminade doesn't even make it to the second quarter against Virginia in football. And the way things are going, Navy is probably never going to beat Maryland in football. I mean, when was the Mids' last victory over Notre Dame before or after the birth of Touchdown Jesus?

I just think a program like Maryland's should go shopping for cupcakes somewhere else, not at the bakery down the street. If the Terps want to bring in Akron, Eastern Michigan and Wofford, I've got no problem with that. But if they want to whale on Navy year after year, I've got a big problem with that. It's just going to make them look small and Navy smaller.

It would be great if the area college football scene were as vibrant as the college basketball scene. It would be great if Georgetown ('41) and Catholic ('36) were still getting Orange Bowl bids and George Washington was still getting invited to the Sun Bowl (as it was in '57, when it still fielded a football team). It would also be great if Navy was still cranking out Heisman winners. But those days are gone, and scheduling games between the Terps and Mids isn't going to bring them back.

Here's something else for Debbie Yow to consider: One of the reasons Georgetown dropped football in 1951 is that it had been pounded the previous season by big schools like Penn State, Miami and, yes, Maryland. There's been talk for years about Navy dropping to Division I-AA, and perhaps the Mids will at some point painful though it would be. But if I were the Terps, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with the decision.

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