Maryland Football Looking To Grow Waning Fan Base In Coach D.J. Durkin's Second Year
D.J. Durkin this season is beginning his second year as Maryland's football coach, and his job will be to "fire up what has historically been a fickle, and often apathetic, fan base," according to Don Markus of the Baltimore SUN. UM last year "averaged 39,615 at home in Durkin's first season -- around 12,000 under capacity -- which ranked 12th among the 14 Big Ten teams." Like many college programs located in an urban market dominated by professional sports teams, Maryland has "never been able to sustain, or even build, a passionate fan base in football." The interest "tends to grow when the team is winning." Maryland this season is "expected to be more competitive, but faces the most difficult schedule in the league and one of the toughest" in the FBS. Markus: "Will the fans continue to support Durkin and his team amid the program's anticipated growing pains?" During former coach Ralph Friedgen's last season in '10, attendance had "dropped to 39,210 in what had become a 54,000-seat stadium" following an "average at home games of 49,393" in '06. While attendance "eventually improved" under Friedgen's successor Randy Edsall, much of the increase had to do with Maryland "moving to the Big Ten and drawing teams such as Ohio State and Michigan, which brought thousands of their own fans." Meanwhile, donations from members of Maryland's Champions Club -- who commit "at least $25,000 annually for three years -- are up" more than 33% from last year (BALTIMORESUN.com, 8/26).