You had to know this was coming.
Earlier this week, a report surfaced that former Maryland head coach DJ Durkin has been helping Alabama in what was described as a “consultant-like capacity” ahead of its playoff game against Oklahoma later this month. Given Durkin’s controversial exit from College Park, the report raised more than a few eyebrows.
In light of the mini-firestorm that erupted, Alabama Friday night issued a statement attributed to Nick Saban in which the head football coach of the Crimson Tide addressed the level of Durkin’s involvement with his football program:
DJ Durkin is spending a few days with our staff in Tuscaloosa from a professional development standpoint. He has not been hired in any capacity at The University of Alabama. He is simply observing our operation as many other coaches have done through the years.
Durkin, two members of the training staff and then-head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded the death of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair and detailed what was described as a toxic culture within the football program. That report described the toxic culture under Durkin as one based on fear, intimidation, belittling, humiliation and embarrassment. Players were, allegedly, routinely subjected to what was described as extreme verbal abuse that included, in part, obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity.
On Oct. 30, it was confirmed that Durkin had been reinstated and would remain as the Terrapins head coach. The next day, and amidst an avalanche of criticism from football players, student groups and high-ranking government officials, U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh announced that Durkin had been dismissed as the Terrapins head football coach.
Everybody deserves a second chance, although one can debate the merits of giving that second chance so close to a coach’s first chance cut short, in part, by the death of one of his football players. Personally, I don’t know what length of penance should be served, but it just feels like less than two months is not nearly enough.