Penn State was not scheduled for media appearances on Thursday afternoon at Big Ten Media Days, but the team still had a presence of sorts.
It probably isn’t one they’d like to be reminded of.
Maryland head coach Randy Edsall spoke of the Terrapins’ 20-19 upset of Penn State in front of 103,969 fans at Beaver Stadium during his brief time at the podium.
From his perspective, of course he should bring that up. Maryland hadn’t beaten Penn State since 1961, and was 1-35-1 in its history with the Nittany Lions. Fifty-one seconds after Brad Craddock’s 43-yard kick sailed through the uprights on Nov. 1, Maryland won on Penn State’s turf for the first time.
For Edsell, that win was huge. At the time, it was monumental for him. And at the time, he said it may start a rivalry.
“Where I grew up, that’s all I ever heard: Penn State this, Penn State that,” Edsall said at the time. He said it was the same when he went to Syracuse, at Boston College and then at Maryland.
“And I understand it,” he’d said. “They have a great program, they have a great history and tradition here. But the thing is, being from a small town ... and coming here and beating these guys (at Beaver Stadium) for the first time in the history of the program, this is special and it is emotional.
“Let the rivalry begin,” he had said.
Eight months later, standing at a podium in a chilly conference room in Chicago, Edsall repeated himself.
Edsall, whose team hosts the Nittany Lions on Oct. 24 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, mostly spoke of the help with recruiting a win over Penn State has given his program.
“Well, I think the one thing is in terms of any time that you beat teams from your area or if you beat a team that you haven’t had really particular success against,” he said, “when you’re 1-35-1 against a program that you played consistently, you know, through the (1960s), the ’70s, the ’80s and those eras, to be able to go and beat them in Happy Valley for the first time and the first time you’ve ever beaten them there and also the first time since 1961, I think it showed kids in our area that we can compete with them and we can win.”
He said Penn State has always had a niche for “being able to come down to Maryland and take players up there.” If the Terrapins wanted to get serious about recruiting in-state, he said, the team would have to beat the Nittany Lions on the field.
The Nittany Lions do have four Class of 2016 verbal commitments out of Maryland — defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, linebacker Cam Brown, cornerback Zechariah McPhearson and linebacker Shane Simmons — and the Terps have eight. The four Penn State verbals are four-stars across the board, according to 247sports, while just two of Maryland’s eight are four-star recruits.
Penn State’s class ranks second in the conference, while Maryland’s is ninth.
In terms of recruiting, Edsall said his program is gaining momentum. But is that — alongside those two meager wins in the left column — enough to create a rivalry?
Edsall, while excited about his team’s future, seemed realistic, albeit hopeful. He was a little more careful with his phrasing than the understandably emotional guy addressing the media after a huge upset last fall.
“You hope that that can develop into a rivalry because I think those things are good,” he said. “But again, those things do take time. But the only way that you can create a rival is by beating teams on the field. And that’s what we know we have to do if we want to try to have rivalries in the Big Ten.”
Because, after all, a one-game win streak does not quite a rivalry make.