The last 48 hours have thrown everyone at Maryland for a loop… for about the fifth time this season. After a disastrously awkward press conference, DJ Durkin was reinstated as Maryland’s head coach after nearly two months away. Barely more than 24 hours after Durkin was reinstated, he was fired.
Over the course of those 48 hours, nothing changed and everything changed at the same time. While Durkin was away, the rest of his staff led the Terps to a 5-3 season. Maryland will be underdogs in three of its final four games but, given the way the team has performed, you could squint and see a path to Maryland keeping the rest of the staff, minus Durkin and ex-strength coach Rick Court.
Now, with two prominent local politicians, the Washington Post and, really, the rest of the country registering their disgust with Maryland’s leadership it seems a total housecleaning will be underway the moment this season ends. The minuscule chance the existing staff could keep their jobs seems to have slipped to zero in the span of two days — even though they had nothing to do with the events of this week.
Such is life in college football.
Now, the staff must manage a roster with its divisions laid bare for all to see. A 192-page report detailed the split opinions in the locker room on Durkin and Court. On Tuesday, a pro-Durkin allegedly punched an anti-Durkin whistleblower at practice.
The burden falls to the staff to pull the team together and get them ready to play over this final month — and then go find new jobs when the athletics department sweeps them out.
On Thursday, interim head coach Matt Canada sent this letter to the parents of Maryland players, first reported by The Athletic‘s Nicole Auerbach.
“The last three days, much like the past several months, have been challenging for everyone involved. There has been a lot written and said about our program. Our young men have been forced to deal with intense distractions and speculation, none of which they asked for. We can’t change that and we don’t control it – what’s being said, how it’s being written, any of it,” Canada wrote.
“What we do control is what’s in front of us as a team. We control how we prepare for Michigan State, we control how we represent this University and how we carry ourselves on and off the field. Our entire staff is extremely proud of how our young men have persevered and come together through significant adversity. Their resolve is incredible. Much of this is attributable to how you’ve raised, encouraged and supported them. For this we thank you!
“The coaching staff and I met with the team this morning. Our pledge to them, and to you, is to continue to do exactly what we have been doing these past twelve weeks. We will stick together. We will lean on each other. We will continue to honor Jordan. We will play hard and as a team. We will make you proud.”
In a situation that began with a player’s tragic, avoidable death, the coaching staff and their families aren’t the biggest victims. Not even close. But they are victims of circumstance nonetheless.