This is our fourth year as Maryland Football season ticket holders. It took us nine years of going to Byrd sporadically before we were willing to make the commitment. Then, for the first three years, we barely used the tickets, nor would we try to even give them away when were not using the seats.
No matter how entertaining a game was on the field -- last season's win against Virginia and the Monday night season opener against Miami in 2011 stand out -- sitting in the stands has been a miserable experience. Our eldest thinks fights between drunken men is a routine part of a football game. We regularly get to games late and leave early because of the obnoxious behavior of a vocal minority of idiots.
As much as we have come to love the team, the players, and the coaching staff, dealing with other fans made going to games with the entire family a non-starter.
Until this year.
Whatever else may happen with the move from the ACC to the Big Ten, the change in culture in the stadium has been a total unexpected surprise.
There was nothing to indicate any major shift from the season-opener against James Madison. We sit field level, 50-yard line, visitor's side and, as usual, there were minor skirmishes and major obscenity laced tirades between fans. Certainly nothing from the West Virginia game seemed any different from the norm.
The surrounding rows in our section for the Ohio State game was about two-thirds Buckeyes and one-third Terrapins. I can't remember ever enjoying a football game more, even with Maryland being drubbed. Fans were pleasant and conversational. More than anything they were reverent.
I left the stadium beaming. It is a privilege to be able to watch elite college football. The Ohio State partisans have no qualms about openly recognizing this.
Same thing this Saturday. Huge number of Iowa fans descend on College Park. No tension in the stands. Free and easy. There's a game. There's fantastic athletes. They're about to engage in an epic contest of strategy and skill. And we're here, allowed to see it up close.
There's a long shot of the visitor's side when Stefon Diggs takes off for his long touchdown. Fans in both black and gold and red and black on their feet. He gone. No "You suck" chant. No fingers wagging at the visiting fans. Just joy on some faces, dismay on others. Football at its very best.
Maybe the Rutgers game to close the season won't be like this, but I expect the Michigan State game will. And that's B1G.