University of Maryland spring football practice.
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Maryland president confirms DJ Durkin ‘is coming back’ as several players reportedly walk out of meeting with head coach


UPDATED 4:23 P.M. ET: With the board chair’s words preceding him — “We believe [DJ Durkin] has been unfairly blamed for dysfunction within the athletic department” — University of Maryland, College Park president Wallace Loh confirmed at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that Durkin “is coming back” as Maryland’s head football coach and that it’ll be up to athletic director Damon Evans, who’s being retained as well, whether or not Durkin will be back on the sidelines Saturday..

The decision to bring Durkin back, however, reportedly isn’t sitting well with all members of the football roster.

Loh also confirmed that he will be retiring at the end of the current academic year, in June of 2019.


UPDATED 2:38 P.M. ET: Not long after we posted the story below, a rather significant development surfaced in which it’s being reported that DJ Durkin will indeed remain on as the Terps head football coach and the man charged with making that decision, president Wallace Loh, will retire next June.

(The original story appears below.)


This would certainly be some turn of events if it ultimately comes to fruition.

Late last week, not long after receiving a 200-page report that was the result of an investigation into allegations of a toxic culture within the football program, it was reported that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents would recommend moving on from DJ Durkin as the Terrapins head coach.  With the board set to hold a previously-announced press conference at 3:30 ET this afternoon, the Washington Post is now reporting that the regents are instead expected to recommend that Durkin, along with athletic director Damon Evans, remain in their respective positions.

The Post wrote that, “[a]ccording to two people familiar with the situation, many of the regents were impressed by their in-person meeting with Durkin at a board meeting last Friday, and many were persuaded that he deserved to remain in his post.”

It should be noted, though, that the regents do not have the authority to hire and fire university employees such as the head football coach; that responsibility falls to the leadership of the individual university.  In this case, that would be U of M, College Park president Wallace Loh, and it’s unclear at this point in time in which direction the leadership at that university will head.

The developments come more than four months after the death of Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair during a football workout.

Durkin, two members of the training staff and head strength & conditioning coach Rick Court were placed on administrative leave — Court ultimately accepted a buyout — in early August after a bombshell report alleged mishandling of the medical event that preceded McNair’s death as well 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.

The commission charged with investigating the culture of the program, the Post wrote today, “did not find the culture of the program to be ‘toxic,’ though it did identify several incidences of abusive or bullying behavior and faulted for Durkin for failing to rein in Court.” “Many players interviewed by the Commission felt Mr. Durkin’s and Mr. Court’s coaching tactics reflected those of a ‘big-time football program,” the report stated.

It has been alleged McNair was showing signs of distress before he collapsed during a workout, with Durkin in attendance, in late May, dying a little over two weeks later of what his family described as heatstroke.  McNair’s attorney and his parents have all called for Durkin’s dismissal, with the family reportedly not willing to discuss a settlement with the university until Durkin is removed as the head football coach.

Durkin has not coached in any of Maryland’s seven games this season as he remains on administrative leave. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has served as acting head coach for the 5-3 Terrapins.

Penn State AD hired search firm to negotiate new James Franklin contract

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Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour appears to really be a fan of a particular search firm. So much so she hired one to do part of her job and recommended them to a rival school to boot.

Those are a few of the takeaways after reporter Andy Wittry decided to dig a little deeper into the recent Michigan State coaching search. This included a freedom of information request for emails to Spartans athletic director Bill Beekman that uncovered several gems.

While there were the notable ‘fan suggests hiring XYZ coach’ type emails, there was also a note that Barbour sent along to her counterpart in East Lansing:

“Sorry to hear about Coach Dantonio’s decision to retire,” the Nittany Lions AD wrote. “As I think we’ve discussed in the past, we have been partnered with Chad Chatlos and Ventura Partners for the last three plus years, utilizing them as our search consultant on all head coaching searches as well as a number of upper level administrator hires.

“Although we have not had to do a football search at Penn State during my time, frankly Chad and I have prepared for a football search on several occasions and he most recently served as our negotiator for Coach Franklin’s latest extension. He is/was fantastic.”

MSU did use a search firm to eventually hire Mel Tucker and spent six-figures with DHR International.

Beyond it being fascinating (and to some PSU fans, perhaps concerning?) that one AD would recommend a particular person to work with to a division rival, it’s notable that Penn State brought in outside help to lock their head coach up with a new deal.

The school confirmed on Feb. 26 that James Franklin had agreed to an extension worth over $35 million over the next six years.

While it’s no shock to see a search firm involved in finding a new coach, it’s a bit unique to bring one in for a renegotiation with a current coach — something most AD’s handle internally with an opposing agent.

The close ties with Chatlos and Ventura Partners is also interesting given that Collegiate Sports Associates was the search firm that wound up helping the university find Barbour for her current role. Typically that leads to a bit of a quid pro quo where the same firm is used for other searches but the Nittany Lions have instead gone exclusive with another.

Take note, as well, that Barbour said she has prepared for a football search on several occasions. Perhaps that little nugget is the result of Franklin’s name popping up in connection to spots like Florida State and USC in recent months.

Instead he appears to be sticking around Happy Valley for several years to come with that hefty new salary that was recently negotiated.

Mel Tucker reportedly hiring Kansas State’s Scottie Hazelton as new Michigan State DC

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One of the best beards in college football is headed to Michigan State.

No, not the one on the face of Illinois head coach Lovie Smith, but rather that of Kansas State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton. Per The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, the Wildcats assistant is leaving for the same position in East Lansing on Mel Tucker’s newstaff.

Hazelton spent just one season in the Little Apple after being hired by KSU’s Chris Klieman. The two briefly overlapped on the defensive staff at North Dakota State before reuniting in the Big 12.

In addition to a productive tenure leading the Bison’s defense at the FCS level, Hazelton has put together quite a diverse coaching career. That’s included coordinator stops at the NAIA, Division II and Division III levels as well as a season at Nevada in 2013 and a run at Wyoming from 2017-18. He also coached linebackers at USC in 2012 and did the same for the Jacksonville Jaguars during Gus Bradley’s tenure in Duval.

Now Hazelton will link up with Tucker as the final member of the MSU assistant ranks. The head coach has quite a large salary pool to work with and you can probably assume that had something to do with luring a Power Five DC so late in the typical hiring season. At K-State, Hazelton made $550,000 last year according to USA Today.

Either way, the bearded new defensive coordinator won’t have long to get acclimated to East Lansing as the Spartans begin spring practice on March 17.

Boise State shifts home-and-home with Wazzu back a few seasons

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A potential Nick Rolovich’s return to Boise State will have to wait a bit longer.

The former Hawaii head coach’s new school of Washington State announced on Thursday that they had agreed to a home-and-home with Fresno State for 2026 and 2027. One issue? Well, the dates given by the school happened to be the same as a previously scheduled home-and-home with another certain Mountain West school famous for its blue turf.

It turns out that there’s a reason for that. Per the Spokesman-Review, the two games against the Broncos have instead been shifted back a few years at the request of BSU brass. They will now take place in 2030 (Boise State) and 2031 (Pullman).

That leaves both programs with one non-conference opening in both those years as a result. The Broncos still have games against Oregon, BYU and East Carolina in 2026 and against Rice, USF and BYU again in 2027. Wazzu, meanwhile, takes on the aforementioned Fresno State both seasons and travels to Kansas State in 2026 and hosts Kansas in 2027.

Also notable is that the Spokesman-Review says that Rolovich’s 2020 debut will come against Utah State on Thursday, Sept. 3 instead of the previously set Saturday contest.

UCLA completes 2026 schedule by bringing Nevada to the Rose Bowl

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There’s been a flurry of Pac-12 and Mountain West matchups made public in recent days and UCLA added one more just under the wire this week.

The school announced on Friday that they had added Nevada to their 2026 schedule. The Wolf Pack will visit the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 19 that season.

This will surprisingly be just the second meeting between the two teams. The first also came at the Rose Bowl — an eventual 58-20 victory for the powder blue back in 2013.

With the addition of Nevada, the Bruins have now wrapped up their 2026 non-conference slate. The team also hosts fellow Mountain West power San Diego State that year and will travel to Georgia in a cross-country season opener.

On the flip side, the Wolf Pack are just getting started in their scheduling as this is the first game on the calendar that year. Jay Norvell’s squad is no stranger to taking on the Pac-12 though. In addition to this contest, the school will take on Cal in 2021 and USC in 2023.

Interestingly, both programs will open in Week 0 for this upcoming season. The 2020 campaign for UCLA kicks off against New Mexico State at home while UNR takes on UC Davis in Reno.