Public dialogue isn't good for Terps-Hoyas

February, 22, 2012
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and Georgetown coach John Thompson III talked briefly last summer about possibly playing a game again between their two rival schools, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.

There was no friction. There was no timetable. There was no commitment. And now there may be no game for quite some time.

A matchup between the two area powers is less likely to happen after Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson made public what was once a private conversation among the Terrapins' coaching staff. Anderson told the Maryland coaches that until Georgetown agrees to play Maryland in men's basketball, all games between the two schools in the non-revenue sports are off.

All current contracts will still be honored. The next matchup that is outstanding is a men's lacrosse game between Georgetown and Maryland. The two programs were slated to play in women's lacrosse, as well, according to Georgetown. Georgetown and Maryland had also competed against each other in men's soccer and in swimming this academic year.

Maryland leads the all-time men's basketball series 36-27. The last time the two schools played was at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., in 2008. Maryland played at Georgetown in 1993-94. Georgetown went to Maryland in 1973-74, which marked the last time there was a home-and-home series in consecutive seasons. There were a few neutral site games between 1974 and 2008.

Anderson's original comment to The Washington Post was that "if we're going to play people -- particularly somebody in our own region -- they should be able and willing to play us in everything. If we could sit down and talk about it and have a good dialogue, we're more than happy to pursue other avenues. But we want to play Georgetown in all sports.''

Former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. responded Monday on ESPN Radio 980 and called out Anderson for dealing with scheduling in a public format.

Thompson Jr. said, "it's incomprehensible to me.'' Thompson Jr. added that he took Anderson's move as a threat.

Maryland then released a statement from Anderson on Wednesday: "The interest that has arisen from area fans regarding our discussions about possible men's basketball games between Maryland and Georgetown confirms the idea is a good one. The reaction from Maryland fans we've heard from has been overwhelmingly positive and the financial benefits to both institutions cannot be ignored.

"It is not our desire to continue this discussion in the media. We look forward to working with Coach Turgeon and our colleagues at Georgetown University, to see if we can overcome whatever obstacles exist and turn this hope into a reality that will benefit both institutions when the time is right."

Turgeon said Wednesday that he schedules all the team's games. JT3 does the same. Athletic directors rarely get this involved in a game, but they do have to sign off on all contracts.

Maryland's ACC schedule will grow to 18 league games next season. The Terps still play an annual game in the BB&T Classic and the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and are usually in an exempted tournament. The ACC schedule will likely be loaded. Turgeon said he has been told that there will be two games against North Carolina and Duke as well as Virginia next season. When Pitt and Syracuse join the league, there will likely be two against Pitt and Syracuse and a rotation with some of the other traditional ACC rivals.

Fitting in a game against Georgetown would be tough for Maryland even if it makes too much sense. And the moment Georgetown signs off on a game, it would happen.

Meanwhile, JT3 has previously said that the Big East schedule of 18 games, even with new members, was going to make it harder to add old rivals like Syracuse (off to the ACC by 2014) because of other scheduling commitments (such as tournament games and the SEC-Big East Challenge).

The original rift between Georgetown and Maryland dates back to Thompson Jr. and Lefty Driesell, when they were coaching their respective programs. The two schools haven't always recruited against each other, despite the proximity.

Maryland is trying to recruit more in the area after hiring assistant coach Dalonte Hill, while Georgetown has always tried to recruit on a national stage.

The nastiness that exists between the two fan bases isn't as raw as it is between Louisville and Kentucky or Cincinnati and Xavier.

The game would draw great interest in the D.C.-Baltimore area. Sure, there would be complaints about location, even if Georgetown's home-court tickets at the Verizon Center were split down the middle.

The bitterness that has extended to long-standing rivalries that are ending due to conference realignment (Kansas-Missouri and Texas-Texas A&M) isn't applicable in this case. There wasn't a rivalry to end. This is a potential series that would be good for the game. And it would certainly be another power-rating opportunity for both schools.

Yet, egos are now going to be involved in college athletics again. So, non-revenue sports will lose a bus trip because the men's basketball teams still don't play each other.

If this had been left up to Turgeon and JT3, there was at least a chance it could happen. Turgeon and JT3 don't have any animosity. But now that it has gone public, the odds are slim.

If the two schools schedule a game against each other, it will look like Georgetown caved in to a threat. The chances of a Thompson-led program doing such a thing are probably zero.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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