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Maryland hires Mike Locksley as head football coach

The former Terps interim coach will leave Alabama’s offensive coordinator position to return to College Park.

Maryland v Rutgers Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Mike Locksley is returning to Maryland to become the Terps’ head football coach.

The hire was first reported by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, and the program made an official announcement later Tuesday evening. Locksley will be introduced at a press conference Thursday.

The Alabama offensive coordinator and newly-minted Broyles Award winner officially replaces DJ Durkin, who was fired on Oct. 31 after being placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11. Maryland spent the whole season under scrutiny for its handling of Jordan McNair’s death and subsequent reports of a “toxic” culture within the program. The Terps went 5-7 under interim head coach Matt Canada in 2018.

Canada was a finalist for the job, as was Michigan assistant head coach, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton. Maryland interviewed its three finalists Sunday and Monday after parting ways with a search firm hired to assist with the process.

According to The Washington Post’s Roman Stubbs, Locksley’s contract at Maryland is for five years and approximately $2.5 million per year, with an option for an additional season.

This is Locksley’s third stint at Maryland. He was the Terps’ running backs coach from 1997-2002, and also served as Maryland’s recruiting coordinator starting in 1998. This six-year stint ended when Locksley took the same two positions at Florida. He returned to College Park in 2012 as Randy Edsall’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and took over as interim head coach when Edsall was fired in 2015.

New Mexico named Locksley as its head coach for the 2009 season, but fired him in 2011 after a disastrous tenure. The Lobos, who were already under probation when he arrived, went 1-11 in each of his first two seasons, and he was fired after starting his third year 0-4. Locksley’s time in Albuquerque included an age and sex discrimination complaint, an altercation with an assistant coach and a confrontation with a student columnist, among other off-field problems.

Locksley was a finalist for this job three years ago, but Maryland chose Durkin instead. This reportedly caused friction between Locksley and now-athletic director Damon Evans, who was heavily involved in that coaching search as deputy AD.

After being passed over, Locksley joined Alabama’s staff as an offensive assistant in 2016. He was promoted to wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator in 2017, then to offensive coordinator this season. With Locksley calling plays and a loaded roster headlined by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Crimson Tide are averaging 48 points and 528 yards per game. Alabama is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff and will play Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29. Locksley won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top coordinator Tuesday.

This revival and Locksley’s decorated history of recruiting the DMV area were his two biggest strengths as a candidate. While Maryland’s recruiting class rankings were mostly uninspiring under Edsall, Locksley was the lead recruiter on five-star prospects Stefon Diggs and Damian Prince. He also scored a commitment from quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who ultimately flipped to Ohio State after Locksley was not retained and is now a Heisman finalist. At Alabama, Locksley led the recruitment for five-star defensive end Eyabi Anoma in 2018 and four-star linebacker Shane Lee in 2019; both prospects are from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.

It is currently unclear whether Locksley will remain as Alabama’s offensive coordinator through its College Football Playoff run. His focus over the next few weeks will be on recruiting, as the early signing period starts Dec. 19 and Maryland has just eight recruits in its 2019 class. He’ll also need to decide which of the Terps’ current assistant coaches, including Canada, to retain or replace.

This hire was widely expected throughout Maryland’s coaching search. Now it’s official, and the Mike Locksley era is underway.

This story has been updated to reflect Maryland’s announcement of Locksley’s hiring and reporting of contract details.