Former Maryland Head Coach DJ Durkin Hired as Ole Miss Assistant

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2020

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Maryland head coach DJ Durkin stands on the sideline during an NCAA college football game against Towson in College Park, Md. The University System of Maryland's board of regents announced Tuesday their recommendation that Durkin retain his job. Durkin has been on paid administrative leave since August, following the death of a player who collapsed during practice and an investigation of bullying by the Maryland coaching staff. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

New Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin has hired former Maryland head coach DJ Durkin as an assistant, the school announced Thursday.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, the hiring was cleared "well beyond" Kiffin, as Ole Miss athletic administration and campus officials signed off on it after the program conducted an "extensive" background check.

Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter released the following statement regarding Durkin's hiring, per Emily Giambalvo of the Washington Post:

Durkin was placed on administrative leave at Maryland in August 2018 following the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke after a May 2018 workout. He was also alleged to have instilled a "toxic culture" within the Maryland football program.

McNair's father, Marty, gave a statement on the hire to ESPN's Heather Dinich: "I just wish the best for Durkin and his family. We wish the best for him and his family and hope he'll take what happened at Maryland as a serious life lesson in dealing with other people's kids."

While Durkin was reinstated in October 2018, he was fired one day later amid backlash from players and the media.

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He was hired as the Terrapins' head coach prior to the 2016 season. Maryland went 6-7 with a bowl berth in his first season but fell to 4-8 in 2017.

Prior to his Maryland tenure, Durkin was a graduate assistant and later a defensive position coach and special teams coach at his alma mater of Bowling Green, a graduate assistant at Notre Dame, a defensive position coach and special teams coach at Stanford and a defensive coordinator at both Florida and Michigan.

It isn't yet clear what the 41-year-old Durkin's role will be on Kiffin's staff, but it seems likely he will be the defensive coordinator or perhaps a defensive line or linebackers coach.

He served in a consultant role for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2019.

Kiffin is taking over an Ole Miss program that has fallen on hard times. The Rebels have gone 6-6 or worse in four straight seasons, including a 4-8 mark in 2019. They also have not played in a bowl game since the 2015 season.

After winning 11 games in two of his three seasons as Florida Atlantic's head coach, Kiffin will look to return Ole Miss to prominence, which he was unable to do at Tennessee and USC previously.