By Justin Cherot
I’ve never been “post my personal life to social media” guy. Historically–and you can check Facebook–I’ve never been the type to air anything more emotional than, “Lamar Odom is stealing money from Mark Cuban.” That’s what talking to actual friends and family is for.
A lot of you probably don’t even know I’m no longer engaged, and it’s been that way for two years. Why? Because save for one extremely vague post, I kept it private.
You have to wonder where I’m going with all of this… you ready?
Here it goes: for those wondering why I’ve been putting up weird song quotes and one-liners after midnight on social media, yes… I am going through a breakup. And yes… I was the one who got the Chris Smith (for some of you non-regulars I should probably explain that’s J.R. Smith‘s brother… fine, I’ll drop a link that explains everything. I’ll even wait until you finish reading… then the sentence outside of the parenthesis will seem moderately funny… even if the elongated parenthesis ruined it).
It hurts, and maybe on some level I can identify with a professional athlete: you work hard, become one of the select few chosen, but at the end of the day you’re just not good enough. In the business world, I guess that’s called, “Going in a different direction.” We can sugarcoat the language as much as we want to, but it is what it is.
My sports love is extremely harsh, too. Always has been. And you know me, I’m always trying to draw parallels to sports and life. I was trying to find something sports related that my previous relationship resembled. And it hit me:
The Maryland Terrapins.
Our relationship started out wrong… and yet so right. I didn’t grow up a Terp fan like a lot of you. I can’t lie and say I loved me some Duane Simpkins. I casually rooted, but them losing never killed me. But, I applied to a few schools, and Maryland was one of the colleges that accepted me. From a reputation and cost standpoint, it made the most sense (although getting off the sports stuff, in hindsight I should have just gone to Towson… I would have been done in four, maybe five years tops).
I fell in love with the atmosphere. Going to games during that season was awesome (another link and one of my favorite pieces). And if you clicked that link, you’ll know I was hooked, especially after winning a national title that season.
Just like love, you think every season is going to be like that one. Slowly but surely, things started to deteriorate.
Does anyone remember Gary Williams’ “best class ever” in 2003? It was a big deal because it was the first time Gary stepped outside the box and went for talent ahead of program guys, particularly with Mike Jones and Ekene Ibekwe. The ironic thing is they stayed all four years not because they wanted to, but because they HAD TO. They were surefire pros coming into school but never developed into better than role players. Granted, that ’03 class did have some say in the team winning the 2004 ACC Tournament, but I think it was a harbinger of things to come. It’s almost as if the national title caused Williams to forget what made him great, which was taking humble kids with skill sets that could grow and mature four years. You can blame Williams, you can blame booster pressure to get bigger-name kids in there… but ’03 happened.
Everybody knows what happened next. Save for Greivis Vasquez‘s run (making the tourney in three out of four years), every March is essentially the same: right around .500 in the ACC on one side of the bubble or the other. In fact, I’d argue a slight regress this season: at 15-13 there’s absolutely no way you belong in the tourney, no matter how good you are in conference.
But you know the saddest thing about this whole thing? I’m ashamed to say I had to Google Maryland’s record. Way back when I used to be able to rattle off their RPI and SOS off the top of my head. Now I can’t even tell you when their next game is (though my sources tell me Sunday at Clemson).
Sometimes I still feel it. When I watched the Maryland/Duke game and that Charles Mitchell shot just hung on the rim for an eternity and wouldn’t go down, I felt a little letdown. Which means I still care. And I think in my heart I’ll always love Maryland because the great times really were great. But I’ve just become so indifferent to Maryland basketball lately that maybe it is time for a break.
Which is why maybe for the first time since we’ve broken up, I finally have a better understanding of why.