Tradition takes beating as schools move
The University of Maryland athletics department began two days of celebrations on Monday.
Over at the University of Louisville, a day full of activities that culminate with a street party are on tap for today.
It’s also a red-letter day for Appalachian State.
‘For those not adaptable to change and who love tradition in the ACC and the Southern Conference, it is not a day for bands and noise makers and balloons.
It’s moving day for schools changing athletic conferences.
When you read this, the ACC will no longer have a school within miles of the banks of the Potomac but will have one not far from the banks of the Ohio.
Instead of having a school close to the seat of government, the ACC now has a team that plays in a football stadium just down the street from Churchill Downs.
As of this morning, Maryland will officially be in the Big Ten as Louisville fills a void left in the ACC by the charter-member Terrapins turning their backs on history dating to 1953 in the pursuit of a better financial deal.
Maryland marked the change with one event in Baltimore and a block party near Nationals Park in Washington on Monday, featuring mascots from Big Ten schools.
Today, there will be an on-campus event.
Gone will be the heated rivalries dating back 61 years as the Terrapins, who made it no secret at times that they thought the ACC favored its North Carolina schools, now seek to establish heated connections with schools as far away as Nebraska and Iowa and Minnesota. Instead of making trips to Tobacco Road, Maryland takes its act to the corn belt.
And so go the days of 103-100, Lefty Driesell stomping and yelling and Gary Williams sweating and yelling (and winning a national championship in men’s basketball).
When it comes to tradition, Louisville doesn’t have much when it comes to conferences, climbing the ladder since 1964 from the Missouri Valley to the Metro to Conference USA to the Big East and last season, the American Athletic.
Louisville celebrates the move to the ACC with mascots and a visit from commissioner John Swofford and then a party near campus.
The school brings an athletic program that won 50 conference championship in eight years in the Big East, is a year removed from a men’s national championship in basketball and averages over 22,000 in basketball attendance.
Last season in the AAC, the Cardinals finished first in baseball, won the league tournament in basketball. won a regular-season championship in men’s soccer, swept championships in swimming and diving, and finished first in women’s golf and rowing. They went to the Sweet 16 in men’s basketball, the Elite Eight in women’s basketball and were ranked in the top-25 in football.
What they lack in traditional, their teams are so good that they create an automatic buzz as Syracuse and Pittsburgh did last year in basketball.
It’s not good news for the ACC’s middle of the road teams.
Closer to home, the Mountaineers are no longer in the Southern Conference. Instead, they and fellow SoCon football power Georgia Southern are now in the Sun Belt, satisfying desires to play in the football bowl subdivision.
That’s just part of the upheaval in the SoCon, which is also losing basketball powers Davidson (to the Atlantic 10) and Elon (to the Colonial), and gaining Mercer and former members East Tennessee State and VMI (exiting the Big South).
Appalachian is ending a 42-year run in the SoCon and with it the annual rivalry game with Western Carolina in football. Instead playing teams relatively close geographically, the Mountaineers will now travel as far as Idaho for league tilts.
For now, that doesn’t have the same spark as meeting the Catamounts or Furman to the other SoCon contenders.
For those who think tradition matters, there will be no party.