Better late than never.
Actual minutes after posting my previous article on Maryland deciding to keep head coach DJ Durkin despite the death of Jordan McNair, Durkin was let go. It seems that both the public and player-outcry was too much for the university to handle. As of Wednesday afternoon, Durkin had been relieved of his duties.
Did Maryland make the right choice here? The overwhelming argument seems to be that yes, they did. The main issue that people should take with this, and it is a big one, is how the situation was handled. Despite everything that showed up in the outside report conducted on the culture of the program, the board of regents still recommended Durkin to return to the program.
This, of course, led to the aforementioned outcry. The public’s anger was always going to exist, and Maryland knew that. What they didn’t expect, however, was the reaction the players had. Multiple reports from Tuesday alleged that in a meeting between the players and Durkin, multiple players, including some starters, walked out of the meeting in disgust. This coupled with a tweet from player Ellis McKennie, foreshadowed what was to come.
In addition to this, the McNair family spoke on the matter, with the father saying, “I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in the my face.” And Maryland acts like this was not an outcome they expected.
The firing is really just the university trying to save face. They saw the reaction of players, and realized that a promising (to this point) 5-3 season could be in danger of absolutely collapsing. This being said, that is still in danger of happening. The players now know where the administration stands on the whole matter. They chose the coach over the players, and the players are not happy about that. This is not something that can be easily forgotten.
The University of Maryland has made a tragedy into a full on disaster. The administration went in the complete opposite direction that everyone thought they would, and now they are paying for it. It is honestly surprising that the only head to roll in the end is Durkin, barring any more developments.
As for Durkin, this is more inline of the punishment he deserves. Regardless of whether or not he participated in the reported bullying and abuse, this was his program, and he should police it. One would like to imagine that this is the end of his coaching career, but as we have seen multiple times, if you can help a team out, you will probably get a job. Regardless of if he gets a coordinator job, the man should never be a head coach again. He has proved that he cannot handle being a leader of men, and someone that parents entrust their child to. This should be the end of line. Jordan McNair didn’t get a second chance, and neither should DJ Durkin.
If this offseason has proved anything to college football fans, it is that schools will do anything to protect themselves and their coaches, as opposed to student-athletes and those outside the program. This is a disturbing trend, and one that is growing. Something has to change, before college athletics becomes a giant cesspool.