As one Alabama coach takes over Maryland football, a former Terps coach is helping the Crimson Tide.
DJ Durkin was fired from Maryland on Oct. 31, one day after the University System of Maryland Board of Regents recommended he remain at his post. According to AL.com, Durkin has recently joined Nick Saban in Alabama in a “consultant-like capacity.”
Saban said in a statement Friday that Durkin has spent a few days with the team “from a professional development standpoint,” but hasn’t been hired by the school.
“He is simply observing our operation as many other coaches have done through the years,” the statement reads.
Alabama is prepping to face Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff on Dec. 29.
Last week, the Terps hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to take over a program rocked by tragedy and scandals during Durkin’s tenure, including the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and revelations of abuse from coaches.
In May, during Durkin’s third offseason with the program, McNair contracted heatstroke at a team workout. While heatstroke is nonfatal when treated properly, McNair didn’t recover and died two weeks later.
An external review released in September found that the program’s trainers — who remained with the program for nearly two months after McNair’s death — botched McNair’s treatment, failing to take his vital signs or cool his body quickly enough to save him.
In August, ESPN reported on allegations that Durkin and other coaches were abusing players. The university responded by placing Durkin on administrative leave and commissioning another external investigation, which the regents subsequently took control of.
The investigation’s final report, released in October, stopped short of naming the culture “toxic,” but confirmed many of the abuse allegations and highlighted the department-wide dysfunction that enabled it. The report put some of the blame for the abuse on Durkin, along with other university officials.
Head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court — one of Durkin’s most trusted underlings — threw weights at players and allegedly choked one player with a lat bar. Durkin claimed a lack of oversight from then-athletic director Kevin Anderson and then-executive athletic director Damon Evans made his transition into head coaching difficult.
Despite the report’s findings, the regents recommended the school keep Durkin. The coach met with them in-person and showed contrition for his actions, and he received support from some involved with the program.
Initially, university President Wallace Loh followed the regents’ recommendation and reinstated Durkin as coach, sparking backlash from many players, as well as students, state politicians and other observers. One day later, Loh reneged and fired Durkin, thrusting the team into further confusion.
After a 5-3 start prior to Durkin’s departure, Maryland lost its final four games of the season, including a one-point overtime defeat to then-No. 9 Ohio State. That ended interim head coach Matt Canada’s tenure one game shy of bowl eligibility.
Saban has a knack for adding former head coaches to his staff. Locksley joined Alabama in 2016, after posting a 1-5 record as Maryland’s interim head coach in 2015 and being passed over in favor of Durkin that offseason. Butch Jones, who is expected to be an assistant coach for Locksley at Maryland, joined the Crimson Tide in March after his firing from Tennessee.
In two seasons at Maryland, Durkin managed a 10-15 record. He reached the Quick Lane Bowl in 2016, where the Terps suffered a 36-30 loss to Boston College.
This story has been updated.