Adam Gold

Last call for a legend

Posted March 13, 2014
Updated March 14, 2014

Maryland's Charles Mitchell (left) and Dez Wells late during the Terrapins' game at Duke on Saturday, February 15, 2014 in Durham, NC.  Duke defeated the Terrapins 69-67.  (Photo by Jack Morton)

For the record, Boris Bojonovsky, a 7-foot-3 center from Slovakia, officially flushed Maryland out of the Atlantic Coast Conference with 0:00.4 seconds left in Florida State's 67-65 second round tournament victory. With that, the 61-year basketball run for the Terrapins in the ACC came to a close.

Say what you will about their fans boorish behavior. Say what you want about the chip on former coach Gary Williams' shoulder about being stuck in "Alaska." Think what you want about an athletic department that has fallen on hard economic times over the last few years. The imminent move to the Big Ten conference is a sad development, not only for the culture and tradition of the University of Maryland, but a difficult pill to swallow for those that love and cherish the history of the ACC.

Maryland's emergence as an eastern power in the 1970s under Lefty Driesell was an enormous part of the elevation of the ACC to the premiere college basketball league in the country. The battles between the Terrapins and NC State were legendary with Elmore, McMillan and Lucas going toe to toe with Thompson, Burleson and Towe. There was Buck Williams, Albert King and Len Bias in the 80s, Joe Smith and Steve Francis in the 90s, then Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and company won it all for Gary Williams just after the turn of the last century.

That's gone and it isn't coming back.

College basketball doesn't do nostalgia anymore. Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Louisville have their own history and it has nothing to do with the ACC. What's coming are big games and great events -- providing the conference does the scheduling aspect correctly -- but we're decades away from any meaningful history being established.

Another loss for the league also packed up his bags and trudged out the doors of the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday afternoon. A 76-year old former disc jockey whose work is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Johnny Holliday has been the voice of the Terrapins since 1979. We're a league that reveres, almost deifies those voices. We did with Woody Durham in Chapel Hill, we do with Bob Harris in Durham and Holliday takes a back seat to no one when it comes to connecting with fans and being associated with the program.

He's gone. Along with the school for which he broadcasts, he's off to the Big Ten, taking his voice and his generosity with him.

In 1988, with the Terrapins heading to the NCAA Tournament's Southeast Regional in Cincinnati, WMUC radio, the student station was wondering if they'd be able to afford the trip. Having covered the basketball team all through the regular season and ACC tournament there just wasn't enough money in the budget to secure everything necessary to pull it off. We were still trying to figure out how to make the trip possible when then coach Bob Wade held his pre-NCAA press conference at Cole Field House. It was that Monday when Holliday asked us when we planned on leaving for the Queen City. When we told him we weren't sure we were going to be able to make it, there was no hesitation.

Holliday reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and handed us enough cash to cover the necessary costs of broadcasting the tournament. Johnny said that we had to experience calling an NCAA tournament game, that we would never forget the feeling in the arena. He was right. He also didn't have to reach into his own pocket to make it happen. He could have lobbied the athletic department to cover the expenses. He could have asked a sponsor.

It was one of the most generous and selfless acts of kindness I've ever experienced in my career -- heck, I wasn't even having a career at that time. To this day, I have no real recollection as to the amount. I'm sure that every time I tell the story the gift goes up about 10%. It doesn't matter. Again, there was no hesitation.

They say it's not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts. Well, the thought of Johnny Holliday never gracing the ACC tournament with his presence again is a thought I'd rather not let linger. Maryland will definitely be missed, but Louisville will fill their spot in the standings.

People the likes of Johnny Holliday will be never be replaced.  In this regard, the Big Ten is the big winner.

16 Comments

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  • Hammerhead Mar 14, 3:01 p.m.

    The wrestling team is in for a rude awakening.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    Actually, we've been playing against Penn St, Mich and other B1G teams for a few years in the... View More

    — Posted by cal008

    I know, just thought I'd throw it out there. The ACC has some pretty decent teams every year. As it stands, there are only 8 men's sports at MD, and the wrestling team is usually pretty good.

  • cal008 Mar 14, 2:52 p.m.

    The wrestling team is in for a rude awakening.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    Actually, we've been playing against Penn St, Mich and other B1G teams for a few years in the Invitationals, and have done pretty well. But of course, I don't think UM was too concerned about wrestling revenue when they said yes. We'll just have to be satisfied with winning in the other sports.

  • Hammerhead Mar 14, 2:03 p.m.

    The wrestling team is in for a rude awakening.

  • StunGunn Mar 14, 1:34 p.m.

    OK, being a UM (and Campbell) alum I have been going back and forth as to the merits and... View More

    — Posted by cal008

    Agree about every fan base having "those" fans. Maryland seems to have a reputation for having more, for some reason. You've always been a very respectable poster here. I have nothing against Maryland. Gary Williams was an incredible coach, and he was very entertaining to watch. Mark Turgeon is a good coach, and he'll build a good program at Maryland.

    What people don't seem to understand is that Maryland's decision to leave the ACC was financial driven, but not greed driven. They had to cut several athletic programs due to lack of funds, and they see bolting to the B1G as a way to help their financial struggles. I wish them well and I don't like to see a founding member of the ACC leave.

  • cal008 Mar 14, 1:20 p.m.

    OK, being a UM (and Campbell) alum I have been going back and forth as to the merits and detractions regarding the move to the B1G. And yes, I realize there are those fans that are "glad" to see the Terps gone. But if you think about why you "hate" MD, or are glad to see us go, the majority of reasons is because of the tremendous games and contests that, as ACC original members we are (were), helped to contribute to such a great league. Yes, I hear it all the time about the Terp fans, and everyone knows that EVERY team has its detractors, but that aside it will take quite awhile to generate that collegiate animosity and angst against a challenging foe. Remember, as Bball goes the winningest 3 teams in the league over the last 30 yrs is Duke, UNC and MD in that order and only MD beat Duke at Cameron more than anyone (except UNC). Adios ACC, it was a great ride.

  • heelsforever Mar 14, 1:15 p.m.

    Today was such a sad day for the ACC. It just won't be the same without Maryland. Even more... View More

    — Posted by Wlfpacker

    Grew up watching Norm sport that God Awful plaid sport coat and seeing Lefty rattle the rafters... View More

    — Posted by AmazedAtThis

    For the record, UMd made the decision to bolt on their own. AND "Swofford and Co." did what was necessary to keep the ACC from becoming the victim of raids.

  • thomasew Mar 14, 12:29 p.m.

    It isn't good to see a charter member school leave for another conference. As Richard4 stated, when the President openly says its all about the money, that tells us where the priority lies. It isn't about loyalty, or tradition, or rivalries, its about the $s, sad but true. I'm no Maryland fan, never have been, but losing them to the Big Ten is not a good thing. I've attended a few women's basketball games, and while I do admire the passion of the lady Terp fans, I have to say they are the most obnoxious people I've ever been around. Had to move seats the last time they played in the NCAA at PNC due to not being able to enjoy the game b/c of the Terp fans. However, I did get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing Notre Dame hammer the lady Terps though!

  • LuvsThePack Mar 14, 11:29 a.m.

    Eff Maryland. Good riddance. Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

    I won't miss them a bit. Neither will the ACC.

  • Knightwolf Mar 14, 9:11 a.m.

    got accepted to UM. Never set foot on the campus. B-Bye. Don't let the door hit ya'.

  • K 309 > Dean 254 Mar 14, 9:07 a.m.

    Television and the big money it generates has destroyed the old ACC, not Swofford. Times, they are a changing...

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