Maryland has added head coach D.J. Durkin to the list of coaches who are now on administrative leave.
“I am extremely concerned by the allegations of unacceptable behaviors by members of our football staff detailed in recent media reports. We are committed to fully investigating the program,” athletic director Damon Evans said in a letter on Saturday. “At this time, the best decision for our football program is to place Maryland Head Football Coach DJ Durkin on leave so we can properly review the culture of the program.
“This is effective immediately. Matt Canada will serve as interim head coach.”
The Terps have been rocked by several reports over the past 24 hours from ESPN and other outlets regarding a “toxic” culture that has been established at the program under Durkin and others. The school moved earlier in the day to suspend three others (two athletic trainers and the assistant athletics director for sports performance) involved in the fallout from the tragic death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair after a workout earlier this summer.
While no timetable is given for Durkin’s absence, it could be a lengthy investigation for the school into the entire matter as several state officials have now started to weigh in on what’s been going on in College Park. The team opens the 2018 season against Texas on Sept. 1st.
It remains to be seen if Durkin, who was set to begin his third season in charge and has a 10-15 overall record, will even return amid the serious allegations. In a Washington Post report published Saturday evening, it appears there is a growing sentiment that he will not be able to save his job given the numerous reports that have cast him and the program in such a negative light — to say nothing of a potential lawsuit from the McNair family.
One high-level booster close to the athletic department, who spoke on a condition of anonymity, said Saturday that “a lot of donors are of the opinion that Durkin must go” and that there is mounting pressure on Evans to fire Durkin. Other alumni believe that the independent investigation into McNair’s death must also thoroughly examine the allegations of a toxic culture within the program.
Canada has never been a head coach before but is thrust into a big spot after joining the team as offensive coordinator in January following a stint at LSU in 2017.
The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week. As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.
According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”
On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.
The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers. All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.
Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.
A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.
Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach. While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.
The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.
In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini. Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.
The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo. In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.
One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff. Reportedly.
According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.
Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.
Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16. From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.
In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.
Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.
“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”
Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.
Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”