Today in the life of Rakeem Cato: Ending Maryland’s futile ACC stay
The following sentence might not be the Internet’s best today, but it’s up there:
Rakeem Cato to Gator Hoskins for the Military Bowl win.
Read that again, breathing in all those fumes of glory.
It came from Shane Alexander’s brilliance.
You can’t tell me it’s not fun to say, “Rakeem Cato to Gator Hoskins for the Military Bowl win.” You can’t. I just screamed it from my roof.
Cato is everything that’s great about these nondescript bowl games that as many people mock as watch. He went 28 of 44 for 337 yards and three touchdowns (no picks) as Marshall beat Maryland 31-20 in the Military Bowl, giving us fun afternoon football a few days before most fans start tuning in for their bowl fix.
While earning the bowl’s MVP, he helped get Marshall its 10th win of the season and second bowl victory in three seasons. What, you’re not impressed? Fine, fine.
Cato also helped turn Maryland’s corner of the Twitter world into an incredibly depressing and incredibly funny gathering of morbid souls who’ve clearly had enough of Terps football for a while. This doesn’t even scratch the surface:
God it really takes a toll out of you to be a Maryland fan.
— Carly Stonehouse (@c_rockcasa) December 27, 2013
University of Maryland athletic programs are (part of) the reason I drink.
— Joe Seleski (@joeseleski) December 27, 2013
So Maryland can't even beat Marshall and now they are in the B1G…..why
— Ed Wilms (@Stickpounder) December 27, 2013
— Dan Miller (@theophilus166) December 27, 2013
Wait, that last one isn’t a depressed Maryland fan. No, that’s a Big Ten fan backing as far away from the Terps until he has to accept his “problem” into the league next season.
Meanwhile, social media is currently filled with ACC types hollering “good riddance!” – and other forms of sweet goodbyes – Maryland’s way, because after 61 seasons in the league, the relationship has come to an end.
Beginning in 2014, Maryland will compete with more established and formidable football programs in the Big Ten. For all the talk about the B1G’s bruises in 2013, that’s a step in a tough direction for a program that won 10 or more games only six times in the six decades it belonged to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Here’s how the first Big Ten campaign goes for the Terps: at Indiana, Ohio State, Iowa, at Wisconsin, at Penn State, Michigan State, at Michigan, Rutgers. When the 2014 schedule was first released, head coach Randy Edsall briefly addressed it in a meeting with reporters. His reaction:
That’s not even a daunting slate compared to what those in the Pac-12, SEC or Big 12 will face, but it’s hard to find six wins on there, which means Maryland might not have the opportunity to even return to the Military Bowl next season.
And what that means is athletic director Kevin Anderson will face the awkward situation of having fired his last coach, Ralph Friedgen, after he went 9-4 in 2010 with a win in the bowl game Edsall just lost.
Perhaps 10 Friedgen seasons were too many in College Park, but he led Maryland’s most successful stretch in the ACC. Three of those six double-digit win seasons in 61 years belong to Friedgen (2001-03, his first three seasons at the school), as does a 5-2 bowl record. Yes, 5-6, 5-6 and 2-10 also bear his name, but if Anderson is using the Friedgen era as a floor, well, Edsall already has two seasons as poor as Friedgen’s three worst.
All of this isn’t to say Edsall’s job should be in jeopardy, mind you. I’m not really interested in putting somebody on the hot seat, and it doesn’t seem like Edsall occupies a seat on that assembly line anyway. Maryland is not an easy football job, and after going 4-0 in September this season, Edsall’s team cracked the top 25 and were one of the “surprise” teams of the season’s first month. (FSU sort of ended that.)
The Terps also dealt with an unreal string of injuries, including to top receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Young.
But as Edsall gets crushed by local columnists, here he is at 2-10, 4-8 and now 7-6 in his first three seasons at Maryland. You know how these things go: There’s a three-year building period for most coaches, and then boosters and alumni become cranky in Year 4.
Rakeem Cato probably pushed Edsall a little harder into that a fourth year, into a new league in which life will be more difficult and Maryland was recruited for its television market (Washington, D.C.) first and its football pedigree somewhere close to last.
Meanwhile, Cato has another season to play for the Thundering Herd, in which he’ll take aim at school passing records owned by Chad Pennington. He needs almost 3,000 yards to surpass Pennington’s 13,143 career passing yards (Cato threw for 3,916 this season) and 28 passing touchdowns to break Pennington’s record of 115.
We’ll get to watch Cato tear up Conference USA once more, which will be a blessing. The only sad part in all of this?
Gator Hoskins is a senior. So you know what we have to do once more.
[Walks up to the roof]
RAKEEM CATO TO GATOR HOSKINS FOR THE MILITARY BOWL WIN!
Teddy Mitrosilis writes and edits college football for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter and email him at email@example.com.