Divided loyalties and stumped students as Towson faces in-state foe

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By Wynne Kirchner and Kacie Haines
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers

Walk across campus on a fall day and you’re likely to spot plenty of students sporting the Towson Tigers logo. But it’s hard to go too far without seeing that ubiquitous Turtle, either. While Towson is the hometown team, the Maryland Terrapins are unquestionably the state’s college football team — a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision program that many Towson students and their extended families pull for on Saturdays.

The schools are less than 50 miles apart but have met only once before, in 2011. Meeting No. 2 happens Saturday (noon, BTN) in College Park.

For current and former Towson students, the Maryland-Towson matchup presents a challenge: Root for your school or the Big Ten behemoth downstate.

Photo courtesy of Towson University.

Photo courtesy of Towson University.

Corey Goldstein, a Towson senior, is rooting for his school even though he’s been a Maryland fan his whole life and everyone on his dad’s side of the family attended College Park. Why back the Tigers?

“Everyone loves a good upset,” he said.

Goldstein said he thinks many students at Towson will root for their school but also be content if Maryland wins. Football fandom at Towson tends not to be generational and school spirit can be a problem, although Goldstein said it’s trending in the right direction.

“Our success in lacrosse has brought it back,” Goldstein said. “However, the improvements with our basketball and football programs will lead to a huge increase in spirit and will hopefully get people out to the games.”

Shawn Largent, a Towson senior, typically roots for Towson but said the lack of school spirit plays a big role in his continued passion for Maryland, which he admits was his first-choice school.

“I think Towson has a big school spirit problem,” Largent said. “Banning tailgating was a big reason why, as I think that has driven away the casual fans who could become diehard fans.”

Towson alumnus Matt Hamilton, a reporter for US Lacrosse Magazine, said he always looked forward to the rare Maryland-Towson matchup in any sport.

“As a Towson student it was exciting to see the school that you graduated from play the school that you grew up rooting for,” Hamilton said. “It was surreal having Towson play Maryland because we are used to playing a school like Morgan State or a JMU, instead you’re playing a huge Division I school.”

Added Hamilton: “If Towson beats Maryland in any sport there will be major bragging rights for a long time to come.”

Curt Kusel

Curt Kusel

Psychology major Curt Kusel said he’s torn. “It’s definitely a game that has me anxiety-ridden to support Towson. If I wasn’t going to Towson, I would support Maryland.”

Several Towson students said they were used to a both-and rather than an either-or situation when it comes to rooting for Towson and Maryland.

Environmental science major Odani Bowen isn’t used to having to choose among local teams. “I’ve been a fan of college football for years. Even before college, I’ve been a fan. Most of the teams I follow are Oregon or Alabama football. Towson is not in the same conference as those teams, so it’s never really been a conflict.”

Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson

Economics major Chris Wilson agrees: “[I’ve] always been a Maryland supporter. There’s never really been a need to support one team over another. Even with friends, the support is more towards whatever team you grew up with.”

Added Wilson: “If I was forced to choose a team to support, it would have to be Maryland,” Wilson said. “But between the two teams playing against each other, I’m just hoping for a good game.”

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By Greg Paris
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

One measure of school spirit: whether Towson students know much about their football team. Who are current players? Any former players in the NFL? Who’s next on the schedule? Interviews with students in the week leading up to the intrastate football battle with Maryland showed that have some homework to do.

Destiny Carpenter, a Towson sophomore, was stumped when asked if she could name anyone on the Towson football roster.

“I’m not sure who the coach or any current players are, but I know Terrance West is on the Ravens,” she said. “You are making me rethink my decisions; I need to go to a game this year.”

Asked who Towson was playing this week, she paused: “Aren’t they playing Morgan State, or was that last week?”

Carpenter was not alone: Several students interviewed didn’t know the Tigers’ Saturday opponent — or knew that and little else.

“I know we play UMD and that is about it,” said Diana Mosheyev, a Towson student.

Diana Mosheye

Diana Mosheyev

When informed of the Maryland game, Eron Small, a Towson sophomore, responded: “I didn’t know they played this weekend, but I did know they played one other time before.”

Tamia Mwangi

Tamia Mwangi

Said Tamia Mwangi, a Towson student: “I know the football team has a ton of coaches, but I don’t know any of their names. I know Morgan Scroggins and Diondre Wallace are on the team, but I don’t really watch football.” (Shane Simpson was the only other current player named by students interviewed).

Students were as likely to name former Maryland players as former Towson players who are in the NFL.

Paul Janiszewski and Connor Ritter, both rugby players at Towson, knew pros from both schools. “I know of Terrance West and [former Maryland player] Stefon Diggs,” Ritter said.

“I know Diggs and Terrance West and I think Will Likely from Maryland is in the NFL,” Janiszewski said.

Paul Janiszewski

Paul Janiszewski

Just one person knew the name of Towson’s coach.

“I know it’s coach Rob Ambrose, and I know Terrance West is in the NFL,” said Katy Henkel, a graduate student at Towson. “Gosh, I should know more, this is bad,” Henkel said.

Katy Henkel

Katy Henkel

Conrad Onuoha, who recently started at Towson, was more familiar with another famous TU alumna.

“I don’t know anything about the football team, but I know Amy Schumer went here,” he said.

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