Recent concerns over the future of the Big 33 Football Classic will not shake the commitment of Pennsylvania’s current opponent.
Maryland is all in for the 60th edition of the all-star showcase. And beyond.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity granted to us, and we’re excited that the Pennsylvania football coaches are proceeding and preparing the game in the same way,” said Scott Ripley, Maryland’s team director and vice president of the Baltimore Touchdown Club.
“We’re also excited that Dauphin County is really going to be involved. We know there are so many people that work extremely hard on this.”
Maryland, part of the Big 33 from 1985-92, is 1-3 since rejoining the game in 2013. This year marks the end of Maryland’s five-year contract, but Ripley said the Maryland Football Coaches Association is hoping to renew the deal.
Ripley said discussions were ongoing with Dave Trimbur, the longtime director of the Big 33 Scholarship Foundation who passed away in December. Earlier this month, the foundation’s board of directors announced it was shutting down, citing a sharp decline in annual contributions and additional factors.
The Big 33 will continue under the direction of the Pa. Scholastic Football Coaches Association.
“Dave was doing a tremendous job and we had a great relationship. We were talking about renewing,” Ripley said. “We can’t be more excited about proceeding in the future and continuing Dave’s legacy. That’s important for us.”
Maryland is well versed in all-star game logistics. The prestigious Crab Bowl is one of four all-star games that follow its state championships.
Communication with the Pa. coaches has been “phenomenal,” according to Ripley, who also said officials continue to work with Maryland-based Under Armour to help design uniforms and provide some sponsorship.
“Anything that’s done is what’s best for the game,” he said.
Maryland has named veteran Chuck Markiewicz of Arundel High School as its coach for the May 29th event at Hersheypark Stadium. And while Pa. officials were hoping to announce both teams on Feb. 10, Ripley dismissed that possibility.
With more than 300 nominations, Maryland coaches recently finalized its Under Armour Elite 100 list. Those players will workout Feb. 19 at the Baltimore Ravens practice facility. Invitations will be extended for a second workout Feb. 26 and the team will be selected.
Ripley said selecting the team well after National Signing Day (Feb. 1) eliminates some shuffling of players that are expected to report to college on June 1.