As DJ Durkin put together his staff at Maryland, a common theme started to emerge that gave an interesting glimpse into his mindset about putting together his first staff ever as a head coach.
It started with the additions of Mike London and Scott Shafer. London was the former head coach at Virginia and Shafer had just been let go at Syracuse. Then, Durkin lured Ball State head coach Pete Lembo away from his post as the head coach at Ball State. Each one of those guys were head coaches in 2015, and Lembo even took a pay cut for his first job in a Power Five league.
Heading into 2016, the first staff that Durkin ever put together three guys fresh off of head coaching jobs. He explained why things came together that way to Jon Solomon of CBS Sports, noting (as many coaches do) that he didn’t want a bunch of “yes men”.
“I want guys that have ideas and are willing to speak up about them and are willing to speak from experience about those ideas. At the end of the day, we’re going to do it the way I want to do it, but I like hearing new ways of thinking.”
“I love guys who love to recruit and coach. It just so happened a lot of those guys happened to be ex-head coaches. That’s probably why they got to where they were. As you identified guys, [past head coaching experience] became a bonus.”
Beyond that, Durkin wanted to surround himself with “real guys” he noted. Not guys hung up on their ego, or where they’ve been, or what they’ve accomplished, just real, down to earth guys who can flat-out coach.
In the article, Dodd talks to each of the former head coaches, and Scott Shafer shares really good some wisdom that his dad (a former successful high school head coach in Ohio) told him as a young coach.
“My dad was a head football coach in Ohio and died young and told me a long time ago, ‘You could walk 15 miles in any direction and there’s a coach as good or better than you regardless of where he’s coaching, and don’t ever forget that. Everything’s overrated, even you.’”
“Football’s football. Can you get your kids to play at a high level, and most importantly at this level, can you recruit the right ones to come in and make you look like a better coach than you are?