Jim Williams: Big Ten-bound Maryland has an instant rival in Penn State

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Sports,College,Jim Williams,Terps,University of Maryland

On Thursday, my colleague at The Washington Examiner and good friend Rick Snider wrote a passionate and wonderful column about the end of the Maryland-Duke rivalry. There is no doubt Maryland will miss Duke in basketball. But a true rival challenges you in all sports, both men's and women's, from football to field hockey.

Just 200 miles north of College Park, the folks at Penn State have one of the most successful athletic programs in the nation. Nittany Lions fans are ready to welcome Maryland to the Big Ten in 2014 as a rival.

There are about 42,000 active Penn State alumni in the Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland region. If you expand that reach toward the Delaware Valley into Philadelphia, you're talking about well more than 100,000 fans within a two-hour drive of College Park.

The Capitals, Nationals, Ravens, Redskins and Wizards already have intense rivalries with the Pennsylvania pro teams from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Area fans know what it's like when supporters from those towns come to Washington and take over Nationals Park or Verizon Center. Can Terps fans handle being outdrawn at their home games?

Steve Jones is the play-by-play voice of Penn State football and men's basketball. We talked about the possibility of a Penn State-Maryland rivalry.

Is Penn State excited about the addition of Maryland?

Jones » "When Maryland was added to the Big Ten, this is exactly what both the conference and Penn State wanted -- a geographic rival. We share a common border that goes almost from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. The bitterest rivalries, like Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Oklahoma, Alabama-Auburn and USC-UCLA, all are more intense because the fan bases are close to each other. I think Maryland fits well in the Big Ten, and ramping up a rivalry with Penn State won't take too long."

Why will the rivalry develop quickly?

Jones » "We will be in the same division, so there will be home-and-home games in all sports. Remember that on almost every roster of both the men's and women's teams in all sports at Penn State, we have at least one, if not more, players from Northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland. Back in November of 2010, we drew almost 80,000 at FedEx Field in a game against Indiana; imagine what it will be like when we face Maryland. Yes, this will be a rivalry soon."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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