It’s 2 weeks till the start of the season and the B1G can’t seem to stay out of the news. From mismanagement of staff to mismanagement of players, the B1G ten can’t seem to catch a break.
Friday night, news broke on ESPN that Maryland has been abusing its players and developing a culture of “fear and intimidation” under coach D.J. Durkin. Horrible look for a coach only in his second year coaching the Terrapins. Durkin and his training staff have been put on administrative leave as the investigation continues. Matt Canada will be the interim Head Coach.
You can read the entire ESPN report here. I will paraphrase the worst parts of the report below.
McNair, who was 19, died two weeks after being hospitalized following a May 29 team workout. He collapsed after running 110-yard sprints, showing signs of extreme exhaustion and difficulty standing upright. No official cause of death has been released, but ESPN reported Friday that he died of heatstroke suffered during the workout and had a body temperature of 106 degrees after being taken to a hospital.
First off, this should have never happened. You don’t just get extremely exhausted on the flip of a switch. McNair had to have shown signs before hand.
Over the past several weeks, two current Maryland players, multiple people close to the football program, and former players and football staffers spoke to ESPN about the culture under Durkin, particularly strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who was one of Durkin’s first hires at Maryland in 2015. Among what they shared about the program:
- There is a coaching environment based on fear and intimidation. In one example, a player holding a meal while in a meeting had the meal slapped out of his hands in front of the team. At other times, small weights and other objects were thrown in the direction of players when Court was angry.
There is good coaching and bad coaching. Then there is terrible coaching.
- The belittling, humiliation and embarrassment of players is common. In one example, a player whom coaches wanted to lose weight was forced to eat candy bars as he was made to watch teammates working out.
I can’t even see how this makes sense or is productive for anybody.
- Extreme verbal abuse of players occurs often. Players are routinely the targets of obscenity-laced epithets meant to mock their masculinity when they are unable to complete a workout or weight lift, for example. One player was belittled verbally after passing out during a drill.
Just imagine yelling to a kid that has passed out. As a coach, you always tell your players to work hard till they can’t work no more. But there is a limit to take that to and hopefully you never reach the limit.
- Coaches have endorsed unhealthy eating habits and used food punitively; for example, a player said he was forced to overeat or eat to the point of vomiting.
Again, is this really productive?
“He’s just a ball of testosterone all the time,” one current player said. “He’s really in your face. He’ll call you [expletives], he’ll challenge you in the weight room. He’ll put more weight on the bar than you can do, ever done in your life, and expect you to do it multiple times. He’ll single people out he doesn’t like, which is a common practice here. Guys are run off. They’ll have them do specific finishes at the end and do harder workouts or more workouts just to make their lives miserable here. He’s kind of Durkin’s tool to accomplish that. He’s the guy people hate, and that way Durkin doesn’t have to take the blow for it. Guys can’t stand Coach Court.”
Now strength and conditioning coaches are known for their excessive testosterone. I mean you are trying to push people to their limits so that they can get bigger, stronger, faster. But there is a method to the madness and Court was just doing everything wrong.
Maryland was the first to hire Durkin as a head coach, and he immediately wanted to put his stamp on the program
And that he did.
It is a mess of a situation in College Park. I don’t see Durkin holding the position much longer. Interim coach Matt Canada came to the program this offseason from LSU to lead the Terrapin offense. As the youngest ranking member of Durkin’s staff, I see Canada as the only member staying on staff when the season starts. As for the Maryland season, its over.