WASHINGTON — A day after taking recommendations from the Board of Regents to reinstate University of Maryland’s football coach, the university’s president announced the school would part ways with Coach DJ Durkin after all, a decision taken after talking to student organizations and campus leadership.
Sports commentator, former NFL player and Terrapins quarterback Boomer Esiason tells WTOP the decision to rid the college football program of Durkin was long overdue and there’s more to be done to heal the school’s program.
“Where they found themselves yesterday, this is definitely the right move,” Esiason said. “This probably should’ve been done two months ago, along with the (athletic director); the AD should be gone as well.”
Both Durkin and Athletic Director Damon Evans had undergone a weekslong probe regarding the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed during practice and later died at the hospital.
“We are very proud of our program and we want it to do well, but we also want to remember that somebody lost their life here and the pain and suffering that the family is going through is just unconscionable,” said Esiason. “At the end of the day, I think the McNair family got something that they really wanted and that was for him to lose his job.”
Matt Canada is expected to resume the role of interim coach, but it is unclear how long he will stay in that role.
Esiason said Maryland’s football program has a long history of “dysfunction,” dating back to its decision to let go of Ralph Friedgen in 2010. Years later, the football program then passed up the opportunity to hire Frank Reich, current head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Maryland alum who Esiason said would’ve been “the perfect face for the school.”
Durkin was hired by Maryland to succeed Randy Edsall in December 2015
“I just know that the decision making that has been made in the past has been a disaster in regards to football,” Esiason said. “I’m not sure if I would trust anybody there now making a decision moving forward.”
But even so, Esiason called Durkin a “good guy” who was tasked with an almost impossible feat: to improve the program so it can compete at the levels of the Big Ten Conference.
Esiason said there is still hope the program will heal after the “unfortunate” series of events that led to McNair’s death and the eventual firing of Durkin.
“The culture is fine there. The culture will be rebuilt. It will take some time,” Esiason said. “Hopefully they’ll find the right guy in there leading the football program so he can bring solace and closure to all of this.”
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