Thursday's college football: Probe finds Maryland culture not 'toxic'

David Ginsburg
Associated Press
DJ Durkin

An external investigation of the Maryland football program under coach DJ Durkin has determined that the team “did not have a toxic culture,” but was problematic enough to where players feared speaking out.

The 198-page report, which was obtained by the Associated Press, was compiled by an independent commission of eight people and said the culture of the program was not the reason behind the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair. The report did not include any recommendations about Durkin’s status — he has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 11.

The report has not been made public by the university, and no commission members or regents have discussed its findings. A copy of the report was posted online by the Washington Post .

In a statement, the school said: “The University is committed to a fair and accountable process. We will continue that commitment as we work to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes. The University received the report and we are carefully reviewing it.”

The commission interviewed 165 people, including 55 athletes who played for Durkin, a former defensive coordinator at Michigan, and 24 parents of players.

McNair died on June 13, two weeks after collapsing on the field during a preseason workout. The cause of death was heatstroke, and an external review found that the athletic staff made several mistakes in his treatment at the scene.

In the wake of McNair’s death, an ESPN story found the culture of the program to be “toxic.” The University System of Maryland Board of Regents subsequently hired a team to investigate the charges.

The report said: “The commission found that the Maryland football team did not have a ‘toxic culture,’ but it did have a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out.”

It added, “In light of our conclusion that Maryland’s football culture was not ‘toxic,’ we do not find that the culture caused the tragic death of Jordan McNair.”

Going for it is paying off

Major college teams are on a record scoring pace this season and a more aggressive approach on fourth down is helping to fuel the surge.

Through eight weeks of the season, FBS teams are averaging 30.23 points per game, up almost a point and a half from last season and just ahead of the record 30.0 set in 2016.

While last year’s dip in scoring to a six-year low seemed related to teams moving away from up-tempo offense , the cause for this season’s uptick appears to be — at least in part — tied to fourth-down decisions. Often guided by analytics, teams are going for it on fourth down more frequently and turning more scoring opportunities into touchdowns.

“You know we’re big into analytics and have some different analysts look into that every week,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “We study it during the week. We practice it. There’s some recommendations that they give. Sometimes it’s very aggressive. Sometimes it’s too aggressive.”

Extra points

Navy and Notre Dame will play their annual rivalry game in Dublin, Ireland, to open the 2020 season.

... Tennessee offensive tackle Trey Smith is out indefinitely after doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs, a recurrence of an issue that also caused him to miss spring practice.

Week 9 top games


Indiana at Minnesota, 8 (FS1)


Clemson at Florida State, noon (ABC)

Wisconsin at Northwestern, noon (Fox)

Purdue at Michigan State, noon (ESPN)

Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30 (CBS)

Kansas State at Oklahoma, 3:30 (Fox)

Iowa at Penn State, 3:30 (ESPN)

South Florida at Houston, 3:30 (ABC)

Notre Dame vs. Navy, 8 (CBS)

Texas at Oklahoma State, 8 (ABC)