Boy, that Maryland move to the Big Ten has paid huge dividends in fan support… er, what’s that, you say?
The Terps experienced an 8,000-fans-per-game boost during their debut Big Ten season in 2014, but the numbers have steadily fallen since. Average home game attendance hovered around 40,000 from 2015 to 2017, according to athletics department data. The stadium holds about 54,000.
Last year, Maryland’s average home game attendance was lower than it was in 2013, NCAA data show. Among Big Ten schools, only Northwestern and Illinois filled fewer seats in 2017.
This season, an average of about 33,700 attended the first three home games.
Well, that’ll come around once the team starts winning. And that’s coming soon, given how well recruiting’s been going… wait, what?
The team’s recruiting rankings are also suffering. Before McNair’s death, Evans said, the school had made strides attracting top players. Before this year, he said, Maryland was credited with “two of the highest[-rated] recruiting classes in the history of Maryland football.”
But now the football program’s coaching instability and negative press make recruiting a challenge, said Adam Friedman, a Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.
The Terps “had a lot of momentum leading into the season,” he said, but that has all but disappeared.
“For this time of year, for a school like Maryland, for a team that’s beaten a team like Texas, there would be more recruiting momentum if there weren’t these off-the-field issues,” Friedman said.
Maryland’s recruiting class is tied for last in the Big Ten, according to Rivals.com’s 2019 rankings, behind teams it has beaten this season.
On Aug. 11 — the day after a scathing ESPN report was published, detailing allegations of a toxic culture within the football program — three-star offensive lineman Parker Moorer became the first to decommit from Maryland.
The success of college football recruitment efforts often hinges on convincing a player’s parents that the program will nurture their son’s talents and health. Speaking on national television shortly after McNair’s death in June, his parents said they sent their son to Maryland’s football program, trusting the staff would “keep him safe.”
“They did anything but,” Martin McNair said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
That will likely give parents pause.
Yeah, that’s not a good look. For the conference, I mean. Rutgers and Maryland… but, hey, what about the Big Ten Network’s numbers! There’s a real Delany point of pride.