DJ Durkin

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Post Ralph-Friedgen Era Haunts the Maryland Terps

Big Bad Morning Show
August 15, 2018 - 10:45 am

By Chelsea T. Johnson

Post-Ralph-Friedgen Era Haunts the Maryland Terps

Bad luck seems to haunt University of Maryland’s football program after the Ralph Friedgen-era, and I don’t think they’ll return to those times anytime soon.

Weeks after the death of offensive lineman, Jordan McNair who died of heatstroke, University of Maryland’s football program is under investigation for reports of the program’s toxic culture. 

Leading up to McNair’s death, he participated in a series of 110-yard sprints in practice. Jared Goldstein of the Maryland blog Testudo Times compiled a timeline of events leading up to McNair’s arrival to the hospital, and it highlighted an hour gap from the time McNair was having difficulty recovering from conditioning tests to the time that he arrived at the hospital. 

This timeline of unfortunate events led to a thorough investigation by ESPN that prompted a few members of Maryland’s athletic staff to take an administrative leave including head coach DJ Durkin. The common theme in ESPN’s report is that Maryland’s coaching environment was “based on fear and intimidation.”

Yesterday, Maryland’s President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans addressed the ongoing investigation and finally took responsibility for McNair’s death.

“Some of our policies and protocols do not conform to best practices. Some of the actions of our athletic training staff -- not the coaching staff, the athletic training staff -- they basically misdiagnosed the situation. No vital signs were taken. Other safeguard actions that should have been taken were not. For me, that was enough to say, 'I need to come and personally apologize,” Loh said.

In response to the allegations, Loh added, “With regard to these allegations, they are totally inconsistent with what we stand for and our values, which is about education, preparing student-athletes for life and being treated with respect and dignity. You can motivate people -- push them to the limit -- without engaging in bullying and behavior. But these are allegations we have to take very, very seriously. What fair process demands is that we do a thorough investigation by an independent group and they make recommendations, and we will implement those recommendations and we will monitor the continued implementation of those recommendations.”

"I want to be clear: I have not witnessed any behavior as what was described in the media, but it is essential that we fully review these allegations. That is why we are conducting an independent third-party review led by national leaders,” Evans added.

Those allegations come at a bad time for this football program who has struggled to recover post the Ralph Friedgen era who coached the Terps from 2000-2010. During his tenure, he led the program to seven Bowl games and finished off with an overall record of 75-50.

Since his departure, the Terps went 22-34 under Randy Edsall from 2011-2015 and lost in both of their bowl appearances in 2013 and 2014. Fast forward to today, and the Terps are 10-15 since Durkin’s tenure in 2016.

During Durkin’s departure, Matt Canada, Maryland’s offensive coordinator, will take over as the interim head coach for the Terps. 

The independent investigation of McNair’s death is expected to be completed by September 15th, and the many questions surrounding this program will be answered.  

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