By Lou Gamelin
Last night, on my show, Captain Lou’s Pucks and Pigskins, I went on one of my rants questioning the decision making of the Maryland Board of Regents with the handling of Head Coach DJ Durkin. Right before I sat down to write this, it came across that Durkin had indeed been fired. My first question is, why did it take so long? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of that Board of Regents meeting when it came to the conclusion to retain Durkin.
Back when the news came out of the death of Jordan McNair, it seemed hard to fathom that Durkin would weather that storm. On the heels of the disgraceful way Ohio State handled the whole Urban Meyer situation, and how Michigan State handled, or is handling the whole Larry Nassar situation, you would think Maryland would have learned something. Obviously not.
So, Maryland put Durkin on paid administrative leave. They came to a buyout agreement to the strength and conditioning coach to the tune of $350,000. They put AD Damon Evans on paid leave as well. Ok fine. I understand needing to do your due diligence, getting all of your ducks in a row, so to speak. Listening to your lawyers, I get all of that. Then you hear that before that, Maryland President Wallace Loh had wanted to have both terminated. Although the Board of Regents cannot hire or fire coaches, they made it perfectly clear that Should Loh fire Durkin and Evans, then he would be fired. His hands were tied.
Fast forward to yesterday. After The Board of Regents get their reports of the internal investigation, they decide that Durkin is not guilty of gross negligence, or a toxic culture. They believe that Durkin and Evans should be reinstated immediately. HOW, WHY, WHAT?
Then the tragic comedy that is Maryland Football and Athletics gets very interesting. Players walking out of the initial team meeting after the news of the reinstatement. President Loh announcing his retirement, effective in June, but still reiterating the toxic, tragic culture of the Maryland Football program. Student planned protests Thursday, and possibly Saturday.
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My big question: HOW DO YOU LOOK JORDAN MCNAIR’S PARENTS AND FAMILY IN THE EYE AFTER ALL OF THIS? His father said he felt like he got punched in the stomach, Tuesday after the announcement. Then Wednesday, reportedly a fight broke out in practice between two players divided over defending Durkin.
Durkin is a bully. His tactics, his coaching style, his way of thinking is archaic. The Board of Regents way of thinking was archaic. Reports of interviewing the players “anonymously” in the next room to the coaches’ office is appalling. If you were a parent of potential big ten athlete, would you want your him to play football for this guy? I sure hope not.
My next question is, what made them change their mind? My inner sense tells me a big financial donor threatened to pull money from the program or the University if the change wasn’t made. Perhaps someone from Under Armour?
My last question is when will a big time college university do something unique and do the right thing without prodding from the outside? Maryland had their chance and they blew it.