Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin was placed on administrative leave over the weekend, making him a topic of conversation at college football practices across the country on Monday.
At the heart of the situation are the death of Jordan McNair after a team workout and the question of whether an alleged “toxic” culture contributed to it. With two external investigations underway, it would be an uphill battle for Durkin to regain his job. However, he’s found support in the media from players and at least one former coworker.
South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, who coached with Durkin at Florida, was first out of the gates with a vocal defense of Durkin and a (flawed) attack on anonymous sources on Aug. 11.
#Gamecocks @CoachWMuschamp delivered a fiery response to a question about an @espn story, which portrays the Maryland football program under DJ Durkin in a bad light. Durkin used to work w/ coach. "There’s no credibility in anonymous sources. I think that's gutless." @wis10 pic.twitter.com/ny60Xb8jIO— Joe Gorchow (@joegorchowWIS) August 11, 2018
When asked to clarify his comments on Monday, he’d take a more measured tone and clarified he was only talking about Durkin previously.
Will Muschamp asked about his comments Saturday about Maryland coach DJ Durkin. "My thoughts and prayers are with the McNair family. I was talking about DJ Durkin on Saturday. I find it hard to believe some of the things I read in that article about DJ Durkin." @wachfox pic.twitter.com/a2aAeAB1SX— Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) August 13, 2018
Durkin’s previous boss, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, said he hasn’t talked to him since his leave was handed down. Maryland’s coach prior to Durkin, Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall, had no comment on the situation other to express condolences for McNair and his family.
Jim Harbaugh says he hasn’t talked with DJ Durkin since he was put on leave by Maryland. When asked about Durkin’s coaching style, Harbaugh said he can’t speak for any head coach or program but his own.— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) August 14, 2018
UConn FB coach Randy Edsall didn’t want to comment on the Maryland situation other than to express sorrow for Jordan McNair’s family.— Neill Ostrout (@NeillOstrout) August 13, 2018
Elsewhere in the college football landscape, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Missouri head coach Barry Odom were also asked about Durkin on Monday.
Clemson HC Dabo Swinney on Maryland football situation - 'Whether you're tough or not on your players you have to make sure to show them that you love them.'— Jason Smith (@howaboutafresca) August 13, 2018
I asked Barry Odom how he views the ongoing investigation at the University of Maryland as the leader of his own college football program. This is what he had to say. pic.twitter.com/A1fGtijeOm— Eli Lederman (@ByEliLederman) August 13, 2018
I’m not making a comment about another institution. I know the grind of what you do, and ... the day to day operations of running a program, is all based at the end of the day is treating kids with great respect, providing them with the opportunity to the the best you can be in every area and building real true lasting relationships. ... You’re never going to please 120 guys. They’re not all going to say it’s sunny and 75 out.
Outside of Muschamp, coaches have been fairly measured in their responses. This story is still developing, and we’ll continue to cover it as more information becomes available.
In other football news
It’s a lot of football-related links:
Heather Dinich, who broke the first ESPN report and reported on the second, doesn’t think that this story is near done yet.
USA Today argued for more media access to college football programs in the wake of McNair’s death and the subsequent reports on Maryland’s culture.
The Baltimore Sun obtained audio of the 911 call to dispatchers from when McNair collapsed on May 29.
2019 running back Jordan Houston told The Washington Post that he’s still strongly committed to Maryland in the wake of recent reports.
The Sun also brought in some medical experts, who say that cold-water immersion is a “magic elixir” for heatstroke, and why whether or not McNair received it is at the heart of the investigation into his death.
McNair’s former football team will wear JM79 stickers on their helmets this season in his honor.
This Season we will dedicate our efforts to the life of Jordan McNair!!! Jordan will always be on our mind and in our Hearts ! We will wear JM/79 as we compete in his honor! Jordan we Love you!!@TheRealJMcNair pic.twitter.com/JMN1Hv38kL— Hamilton Football (@HT_HotBoyz) August 13, 2018
And in non-football news:
Women’s soccer was picked to finish 13th out of 14 in a Big Ten preseason poll. The Terps get their season underway on Thursday against William & Mary in the James Madison Invitational.
Former Terp Terrell Stoglin just made the list for top ejections in basketball history, after being tossed from a game in Venezuela on Monday.