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Report: Maryland informed of possible toxic football culture long before death of Jordan McNair

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The Maryland football program is currently being investigated for allegations of running what has been described as a toxic football program, an allegation made in a blistering ESPN profile in August that led to the suspension of head coach D.J. Durkin. The investigation is expected to wrap up as early as today, but new details from a new report from the Washington Post claim Maryland officials had been warned about a possible toxic culture as early as December 2016. That would have been about a year and a half before the passing of former Maryland football player Jordan McNair, whose death has sparked concern about how the program has been operating.

The report from the Washington Post outlines the possible schedule to release the findings of its investigation, noting the report will likely be presented to the board of regents at the next scheduled meeting, on October 19. The report also updates the previous reports about when the investigation may conclude, saying it is expected to be finalized on Monday.

The report is expected to include information received from interviews with former players and their families. One anonymous mother of a former player provided a copy of a letter submitted to Maryland officials in December 2016, pointing out concerns about a “calamitous culture and abusive behaviors in the football program.” The letter was reportedly sent to Maryland President Wallace D. Loh‘s office and other officials, including former athletic director Kevin Anderson and medical administrators and the compliance office.

From the Washington Post report, quoting the anonymous letter;

It was perhaps prescient, saying: “The fact that he allows his coaches to psychologically, physically, and emotionally abuse the athletes is paving the way for a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit against the school and the coaches, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

“Are any of you aware or do you even care about the number of student athletes suffering from severe emotional distress because of the abusive actions of Coach Durkin?” it asked. “His actions are extreme and outrageous; intentional and reckless, and the sole cause of the emotional distress.”

It is unknown if this letter was reviewed by those currently conducting and organizing the investigation into the allegations of a toxic culture at Maryland.

The report goes on to provide details about how Durbin was accused of running the program, including the formation of a “Champions Club” for preferred players that was designed to be an incentive for competing within the program, but how those players in the club were treated compared to how those who were not could be seen as simply being divisive.

“If you were in that, you were treated with bags of gear, great food, massages,” one ex-player said. “Meanwhile, people not in the Champions Club were fed hot dogs and beans. They wanted to make a point. You were either loved or hated. If they didn’t like you, you were mentally and verbally abused by Coach Court and Coach Durkin.”

The details of other allegations of a toxic program only go on and one, including alleged fat-shaming by pouring treats on players having a bad weigh-in and having videos of violent images and animals killing each other playing in the training rooms to create a predator mentality.

You can read the full report HERE. In the meantime, we continue to wait for Maryland to close the books on this investigation and learn what the fallout may be. Durkin remains on administrative leave while Maryland’s football season continues.

Pitt announces hiring of ex-Maryland WRs coach Chris Beatty

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Nearly three weeks after clearing out a pair of spots on his offensive coaching staff, Pat Narduzzi has filled in those self-created holes.

Jan. 4, Shawn Watson was fired as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, replaced a little over a week later by former UMass head coach Mark Whipple.  The same day Watson was fired, Kevin Sherman was dismissed as wide receivers coach; Wednesday, Pitt confirmed that Chris Beatty has been hired as Sherman’s replacement.

Sherman spent the past three seasons at Maryland as receivers coach.  He also served as co-offensive coordinator and held the title of associate head coach while with the Terrapins.

“Chris is an absolutely outstanding addition to our staff,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “His expertise goes well beyond one position on the offensive side of the ball. That diverse experience is going to be an incredible asset for our players and entire coaching staff. He is also a highly driven recruiter with valuable contacts in so many key areas. We are looking forward to welcoming Chris, his wife Kris and his son Aaron to both Pitt and Pittsburgh.”

Prior to Maryland, Beatty spent time on Power Five coaching staffs at Virginia (2015), Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011) and West Virginia (2008-10).  In addition to receivers, he’s also coaching quarterbacks and running backs.

Cadillac Williams returning to Auburn as RBs coach

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A legend is coming home to The Plains.  Reportedly.

According to  Scout.com and FootballScoop.com among others, Cadillac Williams is set to be named as the next running backs coach at Auburn.  Williams would replace Tim Horton, who moved into an off-field role earlier this month.

An official announcement on Williams’ hiring could come as early as today.

Williams played running back for the Tigers from 2001-04, finishing with 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns on 741 attempts.  The carries were the most in AU history at the time of his departure, while the yards and touchdowns were second to Bo Jackson.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Williams the fifth pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.  H ended up playing seven years in the NFL before retiring following the end of the 2011 season.

The 36-year-old Williams’ coaching career began in 2016 as an offensive graduate assistant at Div. II West Georgia.  He went to IMG Academy in Florida as running backs coach before moving on to the same position the Birmingham franchise in the newly-created Alliance of American Football.

UPDATED 2:36 p.m. ET: Based on a tweet from Auburn football’s official Twitter account, Williams’ return to the Tigers is official.

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

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Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

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Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.