As a University of Maryland grad, I couldn't have been happier to see the Terps knock off Duke Wednesday night. It was perhaps the most satisfying regular-season win since I was a student there nearly a decade ago, but the win was tarnished by the behavior of fans, who descended onto Route 1 in College Park like a bunch of jackasses.
A bit of history: in 2000, I was a junior at Maryland, but had never seen the Terps beat Duke. But on Feb. 27, Maryland beat Duke down in Durham, avenging an earlier loss to them in Cole Field House. It was an especially satisfying win, because Duke had gotten into the habit of not just beating Maryland, but throttling them good.
Needless to say, the campus was excited. We poured out of our dorms. There were spontaneous chants. It was all good, clean fun. But then someone got the idea to start a bonfire on fraternity row. And then someone threw a sofa in the bonfire. And then a bunch of kids got the idea to attack the goal posts at Byrd Stadium, and before we knew it, the goal posts had been torn down and carried all the way across campus, across Route 1 and into the bonfire. The headline in the next days Diamondback summed it up with one word "Chaos."
It happened again a year later, when a destructive crowd descended again on to the Route 1 area to vent their frustrations over a Final Four loss to Duke, a game in which Maryland led by more than 20 points in the first half. And it came after a legendary loss earlier that season, when the Terps held a 10-point lead over Duke at home with 54 seconds to go, only to blow it and lose the game in overtime. Duke also eeked out a win over Maryland in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in 2001.
Then in 2002, Maryland won the National Championship, and there were some more riots.I had already graduated in 2002, but I did watch the championship game on the big screen inside Cole Field House. My buddy John and I headed down to Route 1 after the win, but quickly realized that it was not the safest place to be. Kids throwing bottles, fires all over the place.
Thankfully, there wasn't much mayhem for several years after that. But Wednesday night it was rekindled. On some level, I was able to relate to the notion of a big celebration after a win over Duke, and was even willing to pass off some of the more destructive behavior as kids being kids. Like us ten years ago, most of them had never seen the Terps beat the Blue Devils, so ending the drought was cause for celebration.
But now that I am 30 years old, I realize the stupidity of lighting fires, destroying property and getting into clashes with hard-working police officers. And it's especially silly now that Maryland is essentially Duke's peer. Since I was a student there, Maryland has won a National Championship. They won an ACC tournament title. And entering Wednesday's game, the Terps were second in the ACC and ranked in the AP Top 25. One of these days, Maryland students will realize that they don't need to go completely nuts because of a win over Duke.