College Park is a unique blend of the quintessential college town and a grown-up city, nestled between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The Byrd Stadium facilities are generally recognized among the top in the country. It's difficult to tour the stadium without feeling the Under Armour influence that permeates the walls. Former special teams captain for Maryland, Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour, made his mark on the field at Byrd Stadium during his playing days and continues to do so.
Byrd Stadium opened with the Terrapins taking on the boys from Annapolis on Sept. 30, 1950. As Navy came into town a crowd of 43,386 fans watched the home team defeat Navy, 35-21, in the stadium dedication game. Just three years later, Maryland fans would be treated to the first national championship football team to bring the historic trophy home to Byrd Stadium.
Many changes have taken place, aside from the facade updates and installation of the modern accoutrements that are commonplace for today's college football facilities. The field name has seen two changes over the years. Leading into the 2006 season, Maryland partnered with Chevy Chase Bank and in 2009 the facility's gridiron was renamed Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.
Byrd Stadium hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 1957; former Maryland coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's return to College Park in 1974 with his third-ranked Alabama; and a 2001 Terrapins team that posted a 7-0 home record. However, none of those events drew a crowd as large as the 58,973 who attended the Nov. 1, 1975, matchup pitting a 14th-ranked Terrapins squad and No. 9 Penn State. (The Nittany Lions prevailed 15-13.)
Hall of Fame coach Bear Bryant began his head coaching career at Maryland in 1945. After being an assistant coach and joining the U.S. Navy following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Bryant made his intentions clear to be a head coach. Former Maryland football coach Harry Clifton "Curley" Byrd -- for whom the stadium is named and who was then president of the school -- took a chance on the 32-year old Bryant, who lead the Terrapins to a 6-2-1 record in his only season as their head coach. Afterward he took the same position at the University of Kentucky.