The University System of Maryland Board of Regents is taking over control of two investigations related to the Maryland football program, a statement from the regents said Friday evening. That decision was made following a unanimous vote by the regents on Friday.
“Earlier today, the Board of Regents was fully briefed by UMCP President Wallace Loh about the circumstances of [Maryland football player Jordan McNair]’s tragic death, about the actions that have been taken since, and finally about the alarming allegations that have emerged in the last week related to the football program,” Board of Regents Chair James Brady said in a released statement. “After a long and robust discussion, the board voted unanimously to assume responsibility for the investigations into these two separate issues. Our goal is to ensure that all system universities, including UMCP, are actively working to protect the health and safety of every student and to foster a supportive culture in which everyone can flourish.”
The two investigations currently ongoing at Maryland are connected to the response to the death of McNair and about the culture of the Maryland football program following a report detailing alleged intimidation by a now former strength coach working for head coach D.J. Durkin.
No decisions on the status of Durkin or any others within the Maryland football program or university have been announced at this time. More details about the board’s plans moving forward will be announced sometime in the next week, according to the released statement from the board of regents.
The University of Maryland has its new athletics director, and the school didn’t have to look very far to find it. Damon Eaves has been named the school’s new athletics director after previously filling the role as an acting AD since April.
“Throughout his tenure here, Damon has demonstrated visionary, transparent, compassionate and ethical leadership,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said in a released statement. “The candidates invited for interviews had impressive credentials and accomplishments. In the end, a senior leadership search is not only about capabilities. It is also about institutional fit and interpersonal trust and chemistry. In Damon, the University of Maryland has the right person at the right time.”
Eaves will now officially replace former AD Kevin Anderson, who resigned from the position in April after a six-month sabbatical. Eaves had previously worked at Maryland as the school’s chief financial officer and was among the likely top candidates for the job at Maryland. A search firm was hired by Maryland to assist in the search for a new AD at a reported cost of $100,000.
While the top priorities for Eave sin his new position will likely center on the current state of the basketball program, one might wonder what this new hire could end up meaning for the football program. Maryland is still a few years away from being able to take advantage of a full Big Ten revenue share (which reportedly paid out over $50 million to Michigan and other Big Ten programs for the past year), and football head coach D.J. Durkin is entering his third season on the sidelines. After going 6-7 in his first season, Durkin coached Maryland to a record of 4-8 in 2017. Durkin is currently signed to a five-year deal that has already been extended to six years per the terms of the contract.
Unless this season is a complete disaster, Durkin’s job security is nothing to be concerned about now that a new AD is installed on a permanent basis.
This did not go according to plan for Tom Herman. In his coaching debut in Austin, Herman was unable to clean up enough mistakes and shaky play from his team as No. 23 Texas (0-1) dug a big hole early at home against Maryland (1-0). Despite a wild second half, Texas just could not get past Maryland as the Terrapins answered every threat from Texas down the stretch and delivered a knockout blow midway through the fourth quarter in the form of a Kasim Hill touchown. Hill’s fourth-quarter touchdown pushed Maryland’s lead to 44-34, which would end up being the final score. Maryland, who entered the game as an 18-point underdog, celebrated a 51-41 victory.
Hill scored the late touchdown, but the Terps were strong on the ground with Ty Johnson leading the charge with 127 yards and a score, averaging 11.5 yards per rush on the Texas defense, which may not have been as solid as anticipated at the start of the season. Maryland quarterback Tyrell Pigrome also got involved running the ball with 64 yards and a score to go with his 175 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air. It was more the kind of performance you would expect from a quarterback coached by Herman. Longhorns quarterback Shane Buechele had a productive afternoon with 300 passing yards and a touchdown and 21 rushing yards and a score, but too many poor passes soaring high or behind receivers led to near-interceptions and stalled any progress late in the game for a possible comeback.
Special teams gaffes and a defense unable to seize momentum were crippling for Texas (Maryland recovered a kickoff fumble and returned a blocked field goal for a score — although, so did Texas), but the offense was the most disappointing part of the Texas effort on Saturday. The Longhorns scored just 13 offensive points. Holton Hill gave the Longhorns a lead just three plays in the game with a 31-yard interception return for a score, and Hill returned a blocked field goal for another score later on. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps brought the Longhorns within three points in the third quarter with a 91-yard punt return for a score, but the teams traded blows from there to keep Maryland out in front the rest of the way. Texas hurt itself with over 100 yards in penalties as well.
So the Tom Herman run in Austin has some work to do. Transforming Texas into a Big 12 contender was not going to happen overnight anyway, and there are still 11 more games to play. Odds are we will still see a good number of positive developments from Texas moving forward, but a loss at home to Maryland is still a sour way to get things started. One thing you can say about a game like this from Texas is you have a laundry list of items you now know can be addressed. Let’s see how much of that laundry gets cleaned up in the next few weeks.
Maryland, however, showed some more reasons to be optimistic about the season than many probably thought possible. Wide receiver D.J. Moore (133 receiving yards) showed why he is one of the top receivers in the Big Ten, and Pigrome ran the offense well to keep things mixed up. This is a team that is still not on the same level as Ohio State or Penn State or Michigan, but it could end up being a team that could cause a few problems for any of those three at the top of the Big Ten East. This was a solid victory for D.J. Durkin.
Texas will host San Jose State next week before preparing for a major road test in Week 3 at USC. Maryland will be home next week for a home opener against in-state FCS opponent Towson.
With the bowl season behind us and National Signing Day just around the corner and the dead period in recruiting lifted last week, we are in prime flipping season. On Monday, Ohio State finally had something go their way at the expense of a division foe, Maryland.
Dwayne Haskins, a four-star pro-style quarterback and Top 100 player according to Rivals, has officially changed his commitment from in-state Maryland to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Haskins previously committed to Maryland last May, but The program has undergone some changes since that point in time, of course. Randy Edsall was fired and Mike Locksley is no longer a part of the staff either. Both were influential in recruiting Haskins.
“It has been a dream of mine to play for The Ohio State University,” Haskins said in a released statement. “This prestigious university best represents my family values and playing under Coach Meyer, Coach Beck and the rest of the coaching staff best exampled strong leadership abilities and a people that I can have a relationship with after football was important. ”
As if nabbing a four-star player at a position of great need for Maryland was not hard enough for the Terrapins, Ohio State also managed to successfully flip linebacker Keandre Jones. Jones had committed to Maryland in December 2014 but took the opportunity to re-evaluate his standing in the recruitment process amid the staff changes in College Park. Jones took an official visit to Ohio State over the weekend and came away with a change of heart. He informed Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin of his plans on Monday morning. Jones is the top-rated player in the state of Maryland and the 30th best player in the country according to Rivals.
So to recap, Ohio State swooped in and took two of Maryland’s top recruits in the Class of 2016 with just a few short weeks remaining before signing day. Ohio State currently owns the top-ranked recruiting class in the updated team rankings assembled by Rivals. Maryland has slumped to No. 63.
It is not every day you see a head coach leave a college job to take on an assistant role at another program, although it is certainly not unprecedented. Ball State head coach Pete Lembo will reportedly be on his way to taking on an assistant coaching job with Maryland under new Terps head coach D.J. Durkin. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported the interesting coaching development Tuesday.
For Maryland, this is the third assistant coach added to the staff with previous head coaching experience as recently as last season. Durkin has already lined up former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer and former Virginia head coach Mike London. There is something to be said about adding assistants with previous head coaching experience, even if that success at the FBS level has been non-existent or limited at best. Lembo is arguably the most successful of the assistants heading to Maryland with prior head coaching experience, as Shafer was a mess at Syracuse and London had many more negatives compared to the positives. The biggest benefit to this latest addition to the staff for Durkin is he has one more experienced assistant with head coaching experience to rely on for advice as he takes on his first head coaching gig.
Lembo was a head coach at Lehigh and Elon before getting a job at Ball State in 2011, where he went 33-29. Ball State was 0-2 in bowl games under Lembo, and the Cardinals saw its win total dwindle in the past two years from 10 wins in 2013 to five in 2014 and just three this season.