Nick Saban was willing to give Hugh Freeze a second chance even as the SEC wasn’t even remotely in favor of it. A year later, another former head coach with scandal attached to his name is being connected to Saban’s Alabama program.
Citing unnamed sources, Matt Zenitz of al.com is reporting that former Maryland head coach DJ Durkin “has been helping Alabama this past week in a consultant-like capacity.” Zenitz adds that “[i]t’s unclear at this point if Durkin could have a long-term role on Nick Saban’s Alabama staff.”
Thus far, the university has declined to comment on the report and what if any role Durkin has with the Crimson Tide football program.
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.
Alabama is in the midst of preparing for its fifth straight appearance in the College Football Playoff, a Dec. 29 date with Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The winner of that semifinal will face the Notre Dame-Clemson Cotton Bowl winner for the 2018 national championship.