I’m a fifth-year senior. I started out at West Virginia University and now attend the University of Maryland. This Saturday’s rivalry match up between the two football teams is tugging at my heartstrings.
Three years ago if you asked me how I felt about Maryland, you would’ve been met with a hellfire of venom-dripping insults.I drove the Maryland-hater train, crushing turtle shells under my steel-wheels of scorn.
I remember the last time the Mountaineers visited Maryland’s campus in fall 2007. My friends and I hightailed it back to the DMV that Thursday afternoon, clad in old gold and blue. We descended upon Byrd Stadium drunk, rowdy and giving the business anyone who harassed us. We cheered obnoxiously for our team as they amassed 353 yards on the ground and started a “Lets go Mountaineers!” chant audible for those enjoying the thrashing on television. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had in College Park.
But it was not inflicting pain on a personal rival that endeared me the Mountaineers, it was the pain inflicted on all of the West Virginia faithful on Dec. 1, 2007. With the BCS national championship one win away, our dreams were dashed by our real rival, the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers came to Morgantown 28.5 point underdogs and walked out victorious, leaving sobbing grown men in their wake. It was a personal sports tragedy I’ll never forget. One that left me scarred and permanently infused Mountaineer pride into my DNA.
Through a variety of circumstances, I arrived as a student at the lair of my former archnemeses in the fall of 2009. With no choice but to adapt, I embraced my new team without giving up any love of my old one. I went to nearly all of the home football games during the Terps’ miserable 2-10 campaign. The fact that nobody else showed up for Maryland’s weekly beatings at Byrd made my new team that much more loveable.
Going through the all-time lows with a team makes their ascension all the more captivating.
I was fortunate enough to be in Spain at this time last year, avoiding the teams’ most recent meeting and avoiding the question: “Who are you rooting for?”
Posed with that question now, what’s a boy supposed to do? Do I go with the old gold and blue that runs through my veins? Stick to my shell? Or just wear a neutral gold and silently sit in my seat?
I’m leaning Terrapins because it’s the school I’ll get my degree from but any outcome is bound to leave me a ball of mixed emotions.
At least it’s not a conference game.