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MM 1.3: Former Maryland football coach DJ Durkin hired as assistant at Ole Miss

This is the Maryland Minute, a short story followed by a roundup of Terps-related news.

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Penn State Nittany Lions play the Maryland Terrapins in football Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin will be back on the college football sidelines on Saturdays next fall.

Durkin was hired as an assistant coach by Mississippi and first-year head coach Lane Kiffin, the program announced Thursday — making this Durkin’s first full-time coaching position since being fired by Maryland after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

Durkin’s specific role is not specified on the program’s website, nor in its release.

“As part of our standard vetting process for all hires, the university conducted a thorough background check on Coach Durkin, and we connected with several highly respected college football coaches, administrators and school officials about their experiences with him,” Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter said. “We received consistently strong feedback about Coach Durkin’s strong character and work ethic and his positive impact on the communities and institutions where he was previously employed.

“Once we had the chance to spend time with Coach Durkin, we were even more convinced that he is exactly the type of accomplished coach with strong football credentials who is also a proud and committed family man that will make him a great addition to our staff.”

Though the university said it executed a proper background check on the former Maryland head coach, a large part of the public did not believe in its tactics.

“How many of his athletes did they talk to,” tweeted Jonathan Allen, former University of Maryland student body president. “Don’t believe them when they say it’s about the students.”

Durkin worked as a consultant for the Atlanta Falcons for part of the 2019 season and spent some time with the Alabama football program in December 2018. Though head coach Nick Saban said he was not hired by the program and strictly there to observe.

About two months after McNair suffered a heatstroke and died on June 13, 2018, Maryland put Durkin on administrative leave and launched two investigations into the program. One investigation examined the details of the workout that led to McNair’s death and the other looked into the program’s culture after ESPN reported it was “toxic.”

USA TODAY columnist Dan Wolken wrote Thursday night that “Football isn’t going to change until coaches like Durkin are out of the sport and the tactics he allegedly used at Maryland are placed into the trash bin of history.”

Durkin was reinstated on Oct. 30, 2018 but was fired one day later by Maryland president Wallace Loh after the university faced backlash.

“I’ll keep my comments [private] beyond I wish Durkin well and I hope he learns from the experience at Maryland,” Jordan McNair's father, Marty McNair, told The Baltimore Sun. Though he previously said that Durkin “shouldn’t be able to work with anybody else’s kid.”

In other news

The Testudo Times podcast returned from a quick holiday break for the latest episode Thursday, in which Lila and I preview Maryland men’s basketball’s upcoming matchups against Indiana and Ohio State.

Logan wrote a feature on how Maryland wrestling coach Alex Clemsen is looking to step up the recruiting level for the program.

Check out some highlights of Chol Marial’s debut for the Terps.

Both Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins turned 21 years old on Thursday.

CBS Sports released its latest college basketball rankings Thursday. Maryland men’s basketball came in at No. 16.

Maryland football signee Rakim Jarrett competed in the Under Armour All-America game Thursday night.

Maryland field hockey’s Bodil Keus also celebrated a birthday Thursday.