Love and loyalty play out on the football field

Syracuse and Maryland will play football for the only time as members of the ACC.

My hometown team kicks off against my alma mater at 3:30 p.m. today.

Tuition checks trump season-ticket checks.

Today comes the football game I have been anticipating for more than two calendar years.

Ever since it was revealed in September 2011 that Syracuse University would be leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, I have metaphorically and mentally drawn a big, red circle around the clash between the squads that represent the University of Maryland and Syracuse University. Or maybe it is a big, orange circle.

I earned my journalism degree from the University of Maryland. And ever since the first day I stepped foot in College Park, I’ve devotedly followed said Terrapins in their ups and downs in the ACC. It’s been a wild and thrilling roller-coaster ride that’s taken me through just shy of four decades. Maryland red is still part of my wardrobe.

I have lived in Syracuse for 31 years. Ever since my journalism career brought me north to a new hometown, I’ve devotedly followed the Orange’s ups and downs. Five seasons ago, my dear wife Karen bought us football season tickets for my Christmas present. We’ve worn orange and blue to home games since.

Syracuse travels to play Maryland at Byrd Stadium today. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. EST. The game is equally important to the 5-3 Terps and 4-4 Orange. Each team needs to get to six wins by the end of the 12-game schedule to make it to a bowl game.

With a trip to College Park to see it live not in the budget, I suggested to Karen that we go watch the game at the new Dave and Buster’s in Destiny USA. Many big flat screens, much food, ample beverages and an interested crowd all should make for a winning experience.

Now comes the tough part.

One of the two football squads I sweat blood over has to lose. (OK, a tie is possible, but with the overtime rules as they are, it is extremely unlikely.)

When it comes right down to my heart of hearts, I want my alma mater to win. Go Terps Go, the most popular bumper sticker used to read during my time in College Park.

But that also would leave me feeling badly about Syracuse losing. “Let’s Go Orange” rings in my ears and lingers in my mind on football Saturdays in the Carrier Dome.

And the opposite is true, too. I would feel an initial pang of disappointment for my Terps if Syracuse prevails, then quickly be caught up in the good things that victory would mean for the Orange.

To add to my confliction, Maryland is leaving the ACC after this season to join the Big Ten instead. This will be the only time these football squads will meet as members of the same conference.

Odd is how this contest I have been looking forward to for so long is leaving me feeling on the day of the kickoff. I think I will leave both my Maryland and Syracuse colors at home. My dress will be neutral. I will admire good plays for both sides.

What would you do in my shoes? Have you ever had to decide between your alma mater and your hometown school? Who did you end up rooting for? And how did you feel after the final whistle blew?

5 thoughts on “Love and loyalty play out on the football field

  1. I’ve only ever had one college love – most likely because I was raised in Iowa the Hawkeyes and then went to the University of Iowa. So, GO HAWKS! That being said, with the Terps joining the Big 10 (does that make any sense to you being that they’re on the East coast?) sounds like we’ll have a little rivalry going on in the future!


  2. You root for the Terps, dear wife Karen takes the Orange and the winner gets breakfast in bed tomorrow. Sweeten the pot with who gets to take miss Ellie on a long walk when it gets zero outside.


    • I like the premise, DJ, but Karen says she will be cheering good plays for both sides, too. Ten years of watching me root for Maryland and five of going to SU football games have made their mark on her, too.


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