Think about stability. Think about calming the waters. These have to be the first keys that come to mind when replacing DJ Durkin at Maryland. While there may not be much trust in the administration that first reinstated, then fired Durkin, hopefully someone in College Park is thinking about the welfare of the players.
By the way, where is Maryland benefactor Kevin Plank in all this? The Under Armour CEO is close with one real big hitter (see below). Assuming athletic director Damon Evans doesn’t have a short list in his back pocket, we’re here to help with this list of 12 names, in alphabetical order …
Dino Babers, Syracuse coach: This offensive mastermind has steadily climbed the ladder from FCS (Eastern Illinois) to Group of Five (Bowling Green) to ACC (Syracuse). His zone read spread has given Clemson fits the last two seasons. The Orange snuck into the AP Top 25 this week for the first time in a long time.
Matt Canada, Maryland interim coach: The longtime assistant has quietly done a great job during the upheaval on campus. Elevated to acting/interim coach in place of Durkin, Maryland’s offensive coordinator as led the Terps to a 5-3 record within one game of bowl eligibility.
Jason Candle, Toledo coach: If Maryland doesn’t snatch him up, look for Candle’s name to surface at Kansas. Candle, 38, replaced Matt Campbell with the Rockets, winning 11 games in 2017. No one wins 11 games in the MAC.
Geoff Collins, Temple coach: If you’re thinking defense first, this is your guy. Collins’ units led the Sun Belt (FIU) and were fifth in the SEC (Mississippi State) and No. 6 nationally (Florida). The Owls are more than alive for an AAC title in Collins’ second season.
Mike Houston, James Madison coach: Twice Houston has led the Dukes to the FCS title game, winning it once. After coaching in high school, Division II and FCS, is taking on the Big Ten giants too big of a jump? Houston should know regional recruiting. James Madison and Maryland are 143 miles apart.
Mike Leach, Washington State coach: We know Leach would listen. He came close to becoming Tennessee’s coach last year. That said, Leach was the No. 1 choice to replace Ralph Friedgen in 2010 until the administration soured on him. Leach has to be on this list if for no other reason has a relationship with Plank. If the Cougars make a New Year’s Six/College Football Playoff run, would Maryland wait for him? Consider Leach a longshot.
Mike Locksley, Alabama offensive coordinator: What a story this would be. Maryland’s former offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall (2012-15) has completely remade his career at Alabama, currently No. 1 in scoring offense. Locksley was a failure as New Mexico’s coach and once allegedly punched a coach while there. But the dude can recruit and is currently calling plays for Nick Saban, so there’s that.
Les Miles, actor: Les is sitting at home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, doing beer commercials and acting in movies. You might have also heard he won a national championship at LSU. Miles will be 65 next month, but Maryland is looking for a bridge coach they could do worse. Miles is an accomplished championship coach, can continue Maryland’s strong recruiting, has no NCAA issues and eats grass. That alone would bring unprecedented attention to a mediocre program.
Mike Norvell, Memphis coach: I still can’t figure out why Norvell didn’t get Arkansas. At one time, all signs seemed to be pointing there. This is his worst season at Memphis (4-4 in Year 3), but Norvell made his bones as Todd Graham’s offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Matt Rhule, Baylor coach: Rhule would be trading one set of problems for another, but Maryland isn’t being investigated by the NCAA (like Baylor) and may even have a better upside. Rhule interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts in January. If he believes the job at Baylor is tougher than he thought, don’t be surprised if his name pops up for this and other jobs.
Greg Schiano, Ohio State defensive coordinator: We’re hoping the silliness at Tennessee didn’t stick to Ohio State’s assistant. There is no proof he knew about Jerry Sandusky while on staff at Penn State. While the Buckeyes’ defense has sagged lately, Schiano has the East Coast experience at Rutgers where the football program way as much worse than it is now at Maryland.
Jake Spavital, West Virginia offensive coordinator: “Spav” has ties to Geno Smith, Johnny Manziel and Will Grier with two different stops at West Virginia and three seasons at Texas A&M.
Charlie Strong, South Florida coach: Strong is 17-3 in his second season at USF. All he needs is the perfect entree back to Power Five after being fired at Texas. Strong would be that calming influence. A master recruiter, Strong could activate D.C.-area talent that has long avoided Maryland. If I’m Evans, Strong is one of my first calls.
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