“The Maestro” Gary Williams Weighs In–“Move to the Big Ten” ——from the Baltimore Sun
Former Maryland coach Gary Williams said today that the school’s proposed move to the Big Ten would be a tremendous boost for the Terps’ athletic program.
In a telephone interview with The Baltimore Sun today, Williams said the school’s long history with ACC doesn’t pay the bills.
“You look around today with what’s going on, and those schools [in the Big Ten] are certainly in keeping with what Maryland feels about academics. You look at a school like Notre Dame that signed its own TV contract and are now partially joining the ACC. They’re looking out for their university. I think Maryland is looking at what’s best for them for the future. It’s not about today.”
Williams, who played at Maryland in the mid-1960s, returned to his alma mater from Ohio State in 1989 after coaching in the Big Ten for three years. He also served as an analyst on the Big Ten Network last season after retiring in May 2011.
“I coached in the [ACC] for 22 years. There’s great memories there, without a doubt. At the same time, you have to look at what’s best for the university,” Williams said. “I’m familiar with the Big Ten, coaching there and working at the Big Ten Network last year. I think I have a decent perspective. If I was coaching at Maryland now, historically in football there’s been good years [for the ACC], but the league has never been where it can pull your football program along a little bit.”
Williams thinks that many older fans will look forward to renewing a rivalry with Penn State in football — the teams last played in 1993 — and that the basketball team will get out from the shadow of Duke and North Carolina to play in what is arguably a stronger league right now.
“Who’s our rival in football? You can’t come up with a name and neither can I,” Williams said. “Who’s our rival in basketball? We can say Duke and Carolina, but we basically will be playing them once a year now. Duke and Carolina, that’s the rivalry. They don’t look at it as Maryland being their rival. The old ACC where you play everyone twice a year and see who’s the best team at the end of the year, that’s not happening anymore. The Big Ten, last I checked, had five teams in the top 20 in basketball.”
Williams said that joining the Big Ten would be a boost for athletes in non-revenue sports.
“That’s a tremendous thing for all your sports. [Big Ten Network] reaches 82 million households. They put on all the Olympic sports and they get national attention,” Williams said.
Williams said that he has talked with Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson about the possible move.
“Every once in a while it takes courage, without a doubt. There will be people who are not happy about leaving the ACC, but if you weigh everything, academically and sportswise,” Williams said. “You have to look at schools — why Nebraska did it, why Notre Dame did it. You can go right down the line. You have to get out of the mentality, we’re different because we’re Maryland. You’re not.”