Pittsburgh Steelers hire former Maryland interim coach Matt Canada to lead quarterbacks

Interim head coach Matt Canada stands on the sidelines during Maryland football’s 63-33 win over Illinois at Maryland Stadium on Oct. 27, 2018. (Andi Wenck/The Diamondback)

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday that they hired former Maryland football offensive coordinator and interim head coach Matt Canada to be their new quarterbacks’ coach.

Canada spent one year in College Park, initially accepting a job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach under former head coach DJ Durkin. But when Durkin was placed on leave in August 2018 following the fallout from Jordan McNair’s death in June of that year, the university announced Canada as the interim head coach.

In his first career game running a college team, Canada led the Terps to an emotional season-opening win over then-No. 23 Texas at FedEx Field, using his patented pre-snap motions and shifts to keep the Longhorns’ defense off balance and score 34 points.

After the University System of Maryland Board of Regents elected to reinstate Durkin on Oct. 30, Canada was set to return to his originally intended position. But when university President Wallace Loh stepped in a day later and fired Durkin, Canada assumed interim head coaching responsibilities for the remainder of the season.

[Read more: Ole Miss hires former Maryland football coach DJ Durkin as an assistant]

Maryland finished the rollercoaster season 5-7, falling one win short of bowl eligibility. After being a steadying presence during an unspeakably difficult season for the program, Canada was a candidate to receive the full-time coaching job going forward. Ultimately, that position went to Mike Locksley.

During Locksley’s introductory press conference in December 2018, athletic director Damon Evans said, “I want to take a moment to thank Coach Canada, his staff and all of our support staff for the hard work and the terrific job they did this season.”

Locksley echoed those statements as he reeled off the people he was thankful for during his introductory press conference and mentioned Canada’s name “for the great job he did keeping this thing together.”

After he was passed up for the Maryland job, Canada didn’t land a position elsewhere and took the 2019 season off from coaching.

Before arriving at Maryland, Canada was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach at LSU in 2017, and he held the same titles at five different stops before that — Indiana (2007-2010), Northern Illinois (2003 and 2011), Wisconsin (2012), N.C. State (2013-2015) and Pittsburgh (2016).

[Read more: Maryland football recruited nationally, but Mike Locksley still hopes to “control the DMV”]

Canada began his career in 1994 as a graduate assistant at Indiana before rising through the coaching ranks. In 2016, for his work with the offense at the University of Pittsburgh, where Canada guided the Panthers to a school-record 42 points per game, he was one of five finalists for the 2016 Broyles Award given annually to the top assistant coach in the nation.

Now, Canada returns to Pittsburgh — and the same practice facility, which the Panthers and Steelers both use but this time will work for the city’s professional team. This position is the first professional opportunity in his winding coaching career.

He’ll have the chance to work with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who dispelled any rumors that he was considering retirement on Christmas, along with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.

Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin’s son, Dino, is now a wide receiver on Maryland’s roster and just finished his first season in College Park, during which he appeared in two games and caught one pass. The younger Tomlin, a three-star prospect per 247Sports, committed to the Terps on Nov. 6, 2018, while Canada was the interim coach.

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