Asmussen: Maryland stadium nothing special

Asmussen: Maryland stadium nothing special

Disney World. The beach. Europe.

These are vacation destinations for the normal.

Ohio Stadium. Sanford Stadium. Autzen Stadium.

These are vacation destinations for the weird. Like me.

OK, maybe not weird. But certainly college-football obsessed.

During a recent family getaway out East, I got to check off two more buildings on my college stadium bucket list. That makes it 53 stadium visits. And counting.

Everybody else wanted to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the White House. All really cool to be sure.

But the highlights for me were seeing West Virginia’s oddly-named Milan Puskar Stadium and Maryland’s Byrd Stadium. (Please, don’t tell the wonderful woman I tricked into marrying me 20 years ago.)

The trip to the first was pretty much an accident. Morgantown happened to be on the way. Near a Tim Horton’s, it was an easy stop.

Of course, like most security-first college stadiums, the place was locked up. Tight. Tried several gates and had no luck. Next time, might be wise to call ahead. Or at least go when there is a game in town.

The second stadium stop was by design. Don’t know if you have heard, but Maryland is about to become a part of the Big Ten. It is official in early July, but the school is already on schedules and planning to participate in the Big Ten Football Kickoff.

Not that Illinois fans will get to see much of the Terps. The first game between the schools is scheduled for Oct. 27, 2018. At College Park. And no date has been set for Maryland’s first visit to Memorial Stadium. Even though the schedules are done through 2019. By that time, who knows how many teams will be in the Big Ten (16? 18? 32?).

Last week’s visit provided a chance for an early scouting report on the House That Ralph Friedgen Built.

Don’t expect to be impressed. Byrd Stadium is no threat to Michigan Stadium, Ohio Stadium or Camp Randall. Big Ten teams won’t be intimidated by the size (capacity 51,802) or the tradition (four BCS bids and an 11-12-2 overall bowl record).

To its credit, Maryland hasn’t put Byrd Stadium in lockdown mode. Maybe it was because the school was hosting potential recruits. Lots of them.

Wonder how long it took to explain the ugly red, yellow and black insignia that is everywhere. On the field, in the stands.

When you first enter “The Byrd,” you will notice large posters dedicated to past Maryland greats. You know Randy White, of course The rest, you are going to have to check Wikipedia.

The brick exterior matches most of the rest of the Maryland campus. The south side of the stadium features Tyser Tower, which includes the press box and luxury suites. Fancy.

Plenty of companies have attached their names to Byrd Stadium. Most prominent is Capital One Bank, which paid to name the field. No sign of Alec “What’s in your wallet?” Baldwin.

Ask me to rank the buildings in the Big Ten and Byrd Stadium isn’t in the Top 5. Not even close. Ohio Stadium, Michigan Stadium, Camp Randall, Memorial Stadium (Nebraska version), Memorial Stadium (Illinois version), Beaver Stadium, Spartan Stadium, Kinnick Stadium and TCF Bank Stadium are all better. Call it a draw with Ross-Ade Stadium. That leaves only Memorial Stadium (Indiana version), Ryan Field and High Point Solutions Stadium (Rutgers) trailing Maryland.

Give the new guys a break. We will check back in a few years. After the Illinois visit in 2018.


Bob Asmussen writes three columns a week for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-351-5233 or by email at asmussen@news-gazette.com.

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