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Maryland football has 3 reported finalists in coaching search

The Terps have also “quietly ended their involvement” with the search firm they contracted.

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Maryland football Matt Canada vs Illinois Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland football is down to three finalists with one clear frontrunner to become its next head coach, according to multiple media reports Friday and Saturday.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Maryland is set to interview interim head coach Matt Canada, Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Michigan quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton. Interviews will reportedly take place Sunday and Monday. Maryland conducted preliminary interviews with Canada and Hamilton this week, according to The Post. No other finalists have been named publicly.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken reported Saturday morning that Maryland and Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search, the firm hired to conduct interviews and background checks on potential candidates, “quietly ended their involvement in recent days” as Locksley emerged as the overwhelming choice among prominent stakeholders.

Locksley will interview after Alabama plays Georgia in Saturday’s SEC championship game. It’s his first season as offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, and while he inherited a loaded roster highlighted by Heisman favorite Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s dominance earned Locksley a nomination for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top offensive coordinator.

Before joining Alabama’s staff, Locksley was a two-time Maryland assistant, with a messy 2-26 stint as New Mexico head coach coming in between. He also went 1-5 as the Terps’ interim head coach after Randy Edsall’s firing in 2015. But his recruiting ties in the area are his primary calling card, and both high-level boosters and former players have expressed support for him.

Canada has been in the conversation for the full-time job seemingly ever since taking over as the interim coach after DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave in August. While Canada drew praise for keeping the team together when it could have self-destructed, the Terps finished 5-7 and lost their last four games. His contract as Maryland’s offensive coordinator runs through 2020.

Hamilton has emerged from the pack of wild card candidates, and if Maryland can’t come to terms with Locksley, it seems like he’s the backup plan. He’s held coaching positions with five different NFL teams as well as Michigan and Stanford since 2003, but has never been a head coach. Hamilton played and started his coaching career at Howard University, and was considered as a candidate for this job when it was last open in 2015 (although the three finalists that time were Locksley, Frank Reich and DJ Durkin).

This timeline points to a decision next week. The early signing period for 2019 recruits starts Dec. 19.