On back-to-back days, Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon and football coach Randy Edsall asked fans for more support. They couldn't have been coming from more different places.
While the basketball team is deep, in top health and primed for a breakthrough season, the football squad is thin, injury-riddled and literally limping to the finish after four straight losses.
Turgeon's appeal came Monday night after a disappointing crowd of 8,724 watched the Terrapins' 67-45 romp over Morehead State. It was the worst Comcast crowd of the Turgeon regime, by more than 1,000. Last year's low of 9,875 came against Mount St. Mary's and the home opener against UNC Wilmington drew 12,873.
The poor turnout was a surprise to Turgeon, especially after Maryland fans came out in force in the Terps' 72-69 loss to Kentucky at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"You couldn't talk to the guy next to you," Turgeon said Tuesday night on his radio show of the noisy crowd.
So as he wrapped up his news conference on Monday, Turgeon asked reporters from the school newspaper to identify themselves and urged them to ask students to attend Friday's home game against LIU Brooklyn.
"We need students to come. We have a good product on the floor," Turgeon said. "Parents out there, buy some tickets for young kids. We're going to play hard."
With expectations bright for this season, Maryland's sagging attendance is difficult to understand, though it is reflective of a disturbing trend in the NCAA over the last five years.
Some have blamed the location of Comcast Center, in a remote corner of the campus, far from most student housing. But that didn't keep the building from regularly hosting sellouts from the time it opened in 2002 until a few years ago. As recently as 2008, the Terps drew a sellout for a Nov. 21 game against Vermont.
It's hard to imagine that ever happening again in November, regardless of the success of Turgeon.
Fan support has often been a sticking point with Turgeon. Despite winning 97 games in four seasons at Texas A&M, fan response was lukewarm, and he sometimes scolded fans. If there were any Texas A&M people out there listening, Monday night sounded like a familiar refrain.
- Kevin Dunleavy