Thursday's football: Durkin reportedly a consultant for Alabama
Former Maryland coach D.J. Durkin could become the latest former Football Bowl Subdivision coach to rebuild his career at Alabama.
According to a report published Thursday on AL.com, Durkin has been working with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s football program in a “consultant-like capacity” for the past week.
The 40-year-old Durkin was fired Oct. 31, one day after being reinstated by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents following nearly three months on paid administrative leave.
Durkin lost his job in the aftermath of offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death in mid-June and allegations of a “toxic” culture in the way he ran the football program during his 2 1/2 -year tenure at Maryland.
Neither Durkin nor a spokesperson for Saban could be reached for comment. Durkin’s attorney, Jeffrey Klein, declined comment.
Since Maryland announced Durkin was fired without cause, he was to receive the $5.4 million owed to him as part of his buyout.
Durkin’s presence in Tuscaloosa, Ala., comes as Michael Locksley, the Tide offensive coordinator who was hired last week to be Maryland’s new coach, returns to Alabama to prepare the team for its Dec. 29 College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma.
Locksley, who has spent the past week talking to current Maryland players, recruiting and building his staff, will finish his duties as offensive coordinator for the top-seeded Crimson Tide.
Alabama is trying to win its second straight national championship. If the Crimson Tide beats the fourth-seeded Sooners, Locksley will continue to do double-duty through the championship game, scheduled for Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.
If Durkin is hired by Saban, it would likely be in a noncoaching role as a defensive analyst, similar to the one former Tennessee coach Butch Jones has played as an offensive analyst this season.
Other head coaches have worked under Saban with hopes of resurrecting their careers.
After being fired at Southern California during the 2013 season, Lane Kiffin served briefly as an offensive analyst at Alabama and then was promoted a few weeks later to offensive coordinator, where he spent three seasons before going to Florida International as head coach.
Locksley, too, started rebuilding his career at Alabama. After serving as Maryland’s interim coach when Randy Edsall was fired six games into the 2015 season, Locksley did not get the permanent job and resurfaced in Tuscaloosa as an offensive analyst.
Playoff expansion? Maybe
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby hasn’t been a fan of expanding the playoffs.
As recently as the Big 12 championship game earlier this month, Bowlsby said: “You have to be slow to move away from something that’s been that successful.
“Will it ever happen? I don’t know. I would never say never. But we haven’t had any legitimate conversations about it to this point in time.”
At the conference championship game, Bowlsby cited the College Football Playoff receiving an approval rating in the 80s by fans.
But that was a day before blue-blood programs such as Ohio State and Georgia were left out of the CFP mix despite having a resumes that some argued warranted entry.
Bowlsby has apparently softened his stance on the idea of expansion.
“It’s an appropriate thing to begin thinking about,” Bowlsby told The Athletic earlier this week.
Along with his statements at the Big 12 title game, Bowlsby said earlier this season that a change wouldn’t be coming soon.
Injured UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton is going to the Fiesta Bowl.
Milton was cleared to undergo another surgery after an ultrasound Thursday and is slated to travel to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, according to a post by his mother on Twitter.
Teresa Milton posted Thursday morning, “Good Morning Knight Nation! Wanted to thank you all for the prayers and good thoughts! Yesterday KZ has a ultra sound and it was music to our hearts ! Today a surgery to get him more comfortable! He will be at the Fiesta Bowl to cheer his team mates on to Victory! Arizona bound.”
Milton, who won American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors and finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting, suffered a catastrophic leg injury during the Knights’ regular-season finale at USF.
He suffered nerve damage and had three surgeries. Once his vascular flow was repaired, doctors planned to perform surgery to repair his dislocated knee, according to statements released by his family and a report by ESPN’s College GameDay.