clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Who will be Maryland’s coach next year? Here are some options

New, comments

Here’s just about every name we can think of.

NCAA Football: Texas at Maryland
Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

DJ Durkin is no longer Maryland football’s head coach, out just one day after his reinstatement from a two-month leave. His permanent exit from the program means the Terps are looking for their second new head coach in four years.

Let’s look at some possible Maryland hires. We’ve tried to make this list as extensive as possible, which means Maryland will absolutely not hire someone from it. You’ve been warned.

Matt Canada, Maryland interim head coach

Durkin hired him in the offseason after his one-year tenure at LSU didn’t work out so well. He was elevated to interim head coach after Maryland placed Durkin on leave in August, presumably because he was a new addition to the staff. He’s reportedly interested in the full-time job, which would be his first as a head coach.

Why it could work

He has already been in this job for two months. It wouldn’t require a big shift anywhere, and would mean that the players wouldn’t be in for a giant program shift again. Maryland’s also been reasonably successful with Canada in charge, and now that he knows he’s the guy for the rest of the season, he’d be able to delegate responsibility for the offense while doing more to lead the program.

Why it wouldn’t work

Canada has still never been a full-time head coach before, and that’d be a different challenge from the one he’s faced these past two months. Also, he could just want to get out of Maryland after seeing all that’s happened these past few months. Additionally, Maryland might just want a total restart from a staff perspective.

NCAA Football: Temple at Navy Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy head coach

Niumatalolo is in his 12th season as Navy’s head coach, and had guided his teams to ranked finishes in three straight seasons before this one. He’s just down the road in Annapolis, and runs the triple option with some good success for the Midshipmen. Niumatalolo flirted with BYU after the 2016 season and with Arizona after 2017, but stayed at Navy both times.

Why it could work

Maryland needs a coach with a clean reputation, and Niumatalolo’s is as polished as it gets. He also gets on-field results, Navy’s 2-6 record this season notwithstanding. Fans would bristle at the thought of the triple option, but doing so could be a path to consistency in the Big Ten by zagging while the rest of the conference zigs. And the triple option in the hands of Tyrrell Pigrome or Kasim Hill could be pretty dang good.

Why it wouldn’t work

It’s not totally clear why he would leave Navy for a job like Maryland. He’d make about the same amount of money at either spot, and would be leaving a place he’s made his home for a program that just went through a whole lot of off-field stuff, none of it good. And if he did come here, he’d have to sell recruits on the triple option, a notoriously tough thing to do.

Mike Norvell, Memphis head coach

After Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech, Norvell jumped right in and continued the run of excellence his predecessor started. The Tigers are a deceiving 4-4 this season. They’re good, ranking 36th in S&P+ (Maryland is 54th). It was somewhat surprising to see Norvell stay at Memphis for 2018 after his team went 10-3 in 2017, so he’s no sure thing to leave after this season.

Why it would be a home run for Maryland

Norvell runs a fun-as-hell offense that scores a crap ton of points. That’d give Maryland a much-needed injection of ~fun~.

Why it wouldn’t work

Like some other candidates we’ll get to later, Norvell could easily hold out for another job. He also makes the same amount of money at Memphis ($2.5 million) that Maryland was paying Durkin.

Lance Leipold, Buffalo head coach

Leipold’s Buffalo team is 7-1 this season. That’s good! They beat Temple, who beat Maryland. Interesting!

Why this would work

Leipold has head coaching experience at a few levels and a seemingly good reputation in the coaching community. His team has multiple NFL prospects. At Buffalo.

Why it wouldn’t work

His hire wouldn’t necessarily be an exciting one. He’s 54, and his Buffalo team this season is better on defense than offense despite having an NFL QB prospect. If you’re looking to excite recruits, this likely won’t be the way to do it.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens head coach

This suggestion is obviously...out there. But if the Ravens’ season goes south, the Terps would be dumb not to give him a call, right? Harbaugh’s contract only runs through the 2019 season, and he has college coaching experience, even if it’s not college head coaching experience.

Why it would work

He’d get to stay in the area, though he’d probably have to move at least a few towns over. It’s a head coaching job. Idk guys, I’m struggling to come up with other reasons.

Why it wouldn’t work

First, Harbaugh still has a job with the Ravens. Baltimore would probably have to fire him before anything would get serious, and we don’t know if a firing would even match up with Maryland’s hiring timeline. He’d have to compete against his brother every season, and would be doing so with fewer resources. Harbaugh could also choose to stay in the NFL, either as a head coach somewhere else or as a coordinator for a brief stop before becoming a head coach again. Also, the general NFL-to-college worries: we don’t know how well he can recruit or how well he’d adjust to the game. Just ask Illinois fans how they feel about hiring Lovie Smith.

Mike Locksley, Alabama offensive coordinator

Locksley played defensive back at Towson, and has coached at Maryland before. He has a reputation as just about the best recruiter in the area.

Locksley served as Maryland’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator in his first stint with the program, and served as offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall before taking over as interim head coach after Edsall was fired in 2015. Locksley then served as an offensive analyst at Alabama, and moved up the ranks to offensive coordinator at the nation’s perennial powerhouse. He’s likely to get consideration for the job.

Why Maryland should consider him

He’s the local guy. He’s the best DMV-area recruiter you’ll find, and his connections to the program mean he’d know what he’s getting into. Hiring Locksley would figure to enable Maryland to secure some of the best local talent, and hiring an up-and-coming offensive coordinator would enable Maryland to actually use it. Locksley likely has pre-existing relationships with Maryland players from his time as a coach and his time recruiting players for Alabama, which would only help as far as mending the team goes.

Why it wouldn’t work

Locksley’s past would seem to make him entirely too risky for a program that just fired a coach after an investigation into workplace misconduct. Locksley’s one tenure as an FBS head coach, at New Mexico, was a disaster for reasons beyond a 2-26 record. He was suspended for one game for punching an assistant coach, and settled a lawsuit with a former New Mexico administrative assistant who said she was fired after Locksley said he needed “younger-looking, young, fresh gals in there because they’re good recruiting tools,” which the coach denied.

Dino Babers, Syracuse head coach

He’s a name that’s been on a lot of lists. His Syracuse team is 6-2 and almost beat Clemson before losing to Pitt. After a few bumps, Babers seems to be operating at the level Syracuse fans hoped when he came over for the 2016 season. And Maryland fans probably remember him as the head coach of Bowling Green who engineered a 21-point beatdown of the Terrapins in College Park.

Why Maryland would be lucky to have him

Babers took a Syracuse program that doesn’t have a ton of football tradition and, after a few bumps, has the Orange humming. He operates a fun offense and makes viral postgame speeches.

Why he’s staying at Syracuse

He wouldn’t be taking a step up money-wise, and Syracuse seems to be a similar spot to Maryland before you consider all the baggage that would come along with the job. I don’t get why he’d make the move. and making a lateral move like this would make even less sense given the fact that he’s 57 years old.

Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State head coach

Satterfield’s App State team almost beat Penn State in Week 1. Need more? They were ranked last week. More? S&P+ ranks App State as the No. 20 team in the nation. App State! A team that moved up to FBS in 2013, the year before Maryland joined the Big Ten. Satterfield became head coach in 2012 and helped guide that transition.

Why it would work

He’s led a consistently overachieving program in a tough situation. It’s pretty simple. He got App State RANKED! And they deserved to be, too.

Why it wouldn’t

By all accounts, he’s an App State lifer. There’s nothing to say he won’t just stay there for quite a while longer. And *if* Satterfield wants to leave the Mountaineers, he’d have plenty of suitors noticing the same things I just wrote.

Seth Littrell, North Texas head coach

Littrell led the Mean Green to bowl games in his first two seasons there, and has his team at 7-2 in 2018.

Why it would work

He’s had success immediately as a head coach. He’s succeeded with a talent deficit in Conference USA, and now has the conference’s best 2019 recruiting class.

Why it wouldn’t work

Littrell could just be a Texas guy. He’s also going to be a hot coaching candidate this year or next, so Maryland’s dysfunction could be a dealbreaker for him too.

Charlie Strong, USF head coach

Strong’s career reboot after his Texas tenure didn’t work out has been solid. USF isn’t quite as good as it was last year even if the Bulls are still undefeated, but they’re good enough that Strong could be on the move.

Why it would work

Strong shares the same high-character label Niumatalolo does. I’d imagine fans would be over the moon if he decided to come to College Park. And he had a ton of success at Louisville, which isn’t a traditional power.

Why it wouldn’t happen

At 58 years old, Strong is probably in for one more big career move. Maryland would be a huge risk for the guy who was head coach at Texas two years ago.

Neal Brown, Troy head coach

The lack of a huge hot-seat season in college football means you haven’t heard Brown’s name as much as you might have in an alternate reality where big-time jobs were falling. But he’s still a hot candidate. His Troy Trojans beat LSU last season and Nebraska this fall.

Why it would work

The reasons here are easy. Brown turned Troy (Troy!!) into a contender in the second-smallest college town in FBS. Need to get a team going without relying on fan support? Seems like he’d be good at that.

Why it won’t happen

He’ll likely be able to get a better job with much fewer risks.

Who do you think ends up as Maryland’s head coach?