COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its football coach Tuesday night, bringing home a familiar presence after the most tumultuous year in the program’s recent history.
Locksley will take over after a season defined by tragedy and turmoil. Offensive lineman Jordan McNair died in June of heatstroke he suffered during an offseason workout, and in the wake of his death came allegations of bullying and intimidation by coach DJ Durkin and one of his assistants.
Durkin spent more than two months on administrative leave while independent investigations were conducted into McNair’s death and the culture surrounding the team. The governing board for the state university system decided to reinstate Durkin on Oct. 30, a decision that prompted widespread outrage and protests by players. University president Wallace Loh fired Durkin the next day.
Matt Canada served as interim coach this fall and presided over a 5-7 season. He was credited with keeping the team together under difficult circumstances and he interviewed for the permanent job, but Maryland instead went with Locksley, who had two previous stops with the Terrapins.
Locksley, who won the Broyles Award on Tuesday as the nation’s top assistant coach, was Maryland’s running backs coach from 1997-2002, and later returned as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2012-15.
“I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland football program,” Locksley said in a statement. “This has always been a special place for me and my family, and I am honored to take on this role at the state’s flagship institution. Our goal is to create an atmosphere and environment focused on the total development of our student-athletes.”
Locksley spent the last three years at Alabama, including last season as co-offensive coordinator and this year as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator.
It is Locksley’s first chance to be a full-time head coach since he went 2-26 at New Mexico from 2009-11. He was Maryland’s interim coach for the final six games of the 2015 season after Randy Edsall’s firing, going 1-5.
The Terps opted to hire Durkin over Locksley at the conclusion of that season.
“As we narrowed the search for the individual best suited to lead our program, Michael not only stood out for his talent as a coach, but most importantly for the role he has played as a mentor to student-athletes throughout his career and his deep commitment to helping them grow into leaders on and off the field,” Maryland athletic director Damon Evans said in a statement.
Locksley, a Washington native, is well-regarded for his recruiting ability. He helped assemble a Maryland roster that won a combined 31 games between 2001 and 2003, and later had stints as Florida’s recruiting coordinator (2003-04) and the offensive coordinator at Illinois (2005-08).
However, Locksley’s tenure at New Mexico was rocky. He was suspended for one game in 2009 for an altercation with an assistant coach, and was sued for sexual harassment by an administrative assistant. Those claims were later resolved.