The controversy surrounding former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin shocked the college football world to its core. Under Durkin’s leadership, offensive lineman Jordan McNair died two weeks after suffering a heatstroke during a summer practice. When taken to the hospital, McNair reportedly had a body temperature of 106 degrees.
After a lengthy investigation into the “toxic culture” of the Maryland football program, and the failure of the Terrapins training staff in providing immediate care that “was not consistent with best practices,” Durkin was fired following an ugly fallout. Despite all that, and the stain Durkin left on the college football world, the Alabama Crimson Tide recently brought him onto their staff in a consultant-like capacity, and the proud program is getting destroyed for it.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has no previous history working alongside Durkin, who, prior to his tenure leading Maryland, coached in various roles with Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, under Will Muschamp at Florida, and had stints at Stanford, Bowling Green and Notre Dame.
There was no official press release that the Crimson Tide were bringing Durkin into this role. There was certainly no fanfare to draw attention to it. This was strictly about football and done to gain a competitive advantage leading up the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma without any care for the negative backlash that would descend on Tuscaloosa.
Why on God’s green Earth anyone would associate themselves with D.J. Durkin at this moment is beyond comprehension, and the college football community is letting Alabama hear all about it.
What makes this situation even worse is that Alabama brought in the same coach who is being replacing by current Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at Maryland. Marty McNair, the father of Jordan McNair, is longtime friends with Locksley and was there when he was introduced to the University of Maryland community.
After Maryland’s Board of Regents and University of Maryland President Wallace Loh first announced they would retain Durkin before turning face to part ways the very next day, Marty McNair said of the move, “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”
Not only is bringing Durkin onto any coaching staff at this point a shame, but for Alabama to do so is absolutely unacceptable. The parents of Jordan McNair lost their son because Durkin’s staff was overworking and mistreating young men for the sake of a game. According to an ESPN report, Durkin allowed a culture of “bullying, verbal abuse and humiliation directed at players” to go unchecked for years, which culminated with McNair’s death.
That didn’t matter to an Alabama football program that is trying to gain a competitive advantage in their quest for another College Football Playoff national championship.
It’s unclear if Durkin could be in line for a long-term role outside of this consulting position after their bowl game, but the way the football community is responding, the Crimson Tide program would be digging themselves even deeper if they allowed this disgraced football coach to continue to be associated with them any longer.