We’ll start with this caveat — given the tumult surrounding the entire administrative hierarchy at the University of Maryland things could really change fast.
A lot will depend on if Wallace Loh and Damon Evans stay. Rumblings we are hearing indicate that Loh has done a ton of politicking to keep his job and firing Durkin in defiance of the Board of Regents was part of that.
As for Evans, things seem less clear given the climate around the program and some things happening on the fundraising (or lack there of) front.
So, this list is based strictly off the assumption that everything stays the same. It also isn’t a list based off of any inside information, but it is a list that tells you where this search should look.
These are the five names I would be putting phone calls in to and going hard after in investigating their fit for the Terps program. Take my advice or not Terps.
Matt Canada, Maryland (Interim Head Coach)
With so much stuff swirling around the players and the program in general, Canada has done an amazing job in 2018. He’s gotten this team largely pulling the in same direction and most importantly is winning the games they should.
Maryland, for all the problems they have on and off the field, are just one win away from reaching a bowl game.
Not only that, but it is clear the players love playing for Canada.
What could keep him from getting the job permanently? It could be the optics of keeping anyone associated with the Durkin era in the mix. But, Canada is a first-year coach at Maryland and his ties to the Durkin era are tenuous at best.
He’d be the first name on my list. What’s better than showing you can win at Maryland than actually…you know…winning at Maryland?
Mike Locksley, Alabama (Offensive Coordinator)
Of the five names we are suggesting to look at, this one may be at the bottom of my personal list.
Locksley checks off a ton of the intangible boxes, as he was formally the offensive coordinator and an interim head coach at Maryland. He also is hugely plugged in to the all-important DMV area. Oh, and that Alabama offense everyone is marveling at — Locksley is the one calling the plays and engineering as offensive coordinator.
So, why is he at the bottom of my list? It’s hard to get past his disastrous tenure at New Mexico. He went just 3-31 at the helm of the Lobos program that had gone to five straight bowl games and been around the .500 mark under the long tenure of Rocky Long before him.
Taking a program that was looking to take the next step and absolutely tanking is hard to get over. So is all of drama that surrounded his time at the helm of the Lobos program.
Of course, it could’ve been a great learning experience, but is this the job to take on that type of coach (even if it was 8 years ago)? Let’s not forget he went a mighty 1-5 as the interim head coach at Maryland after they fired Randy Edsall in 2015 too.
Sometimes coaches are better off as coordinators or position coaches than they are at the next level up, and I feel like Locksley is exactly that man.
Matt Wells, Utah State (Head Coach)
If it won’t be Matt Canada, then a smart decision would be going with someone with an offensive mind to the game. Maryland isn’t going to win by getting better on the defensive side of the ball, they need to be innovative on offense.
Enter the best young coach on the West Coast. Wells took over for Gary Andersen after he left Utah State for Wisconsin and he has kept Aggies relevant in the Mountain West conference. That is no small feat considering the history of the program.
Wells is 41-33 in his five-plus seasons in Logan, and the Aggies are poised to head towards a second Mountain division championship this year with a 7-1 overall record and 4-0 in conference play so far. He also won the Mountain West in 2013, his first season as a head coach.
Being in position to do it completely with his own players tells you a lot about his coaching ability.
If ever there is a younger head coach with the understanding of what it takes to win with fewer resources and fewer eyes on the program, Wells is it. He’s also been great at developing quarterbacks and a powerful offense built around the run game out of the spread.
Unlike most transitions at the top, there might not be much that needs to be changed about the Terps offense…at least in a major way if Wells were to come on board.
Yes, Wells doesn’t have the DMV background of other coaches, but he was born in South Carolina and his program recruits the heck out of the Southeast, including Florida. Those ties would be greatly helpful and I’m sure he can find staff members to take on the DMV roles needed to keep that pipeline open.
Dino Babers, Syracuse (Head Coach)
Syracuse vs. Maryland? What is the difference?
Some may ask that question and wonder why Babers would even consider this move. He may not, but he is a name that would be on my list for sure.
Here’s why — HE BEAT CLEMSON.
If you can do that and then nearly do it again the next year, you know how to get your program up for big time matchups.
Maryland happens to be in a division full of big time programs and if the Terps want to make a move up the division totem poll, it has to find a way to win games against the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State on a consistent basis.
Babers was on the list the last time this job came open, but (not so) shockingly, a personal conflict with Kevin Anderson kept him from getting the job by a lot of accounts.
If the Terps want a guy with some energy, personality and most importantly the coaching chops to stand on his own two feet, Babers is it.
Of course, this move would take a significant investment, as Barbers is earning $2.4 million (just $100,000 less than Durkin would’ve in 2018). Add in the likelihood that you’ll have to pay out Durkin and then maybe even Damon Evans, will the Terps have the cash to make the splash to get this hire to happen?
If there’s one personality that could get donors to pony up the money to get the job done, Babers could be it.
Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State (Head Coach)
This isn’t the season nor the time to poach a young and inexperienced but fun offensive coach from the MAC or anywhere else. But, this is a time to swing for the fences for a proven lower division coach.
Sattefield has been amazing for Appalachian State in its transition from FCS to FBS and the Sun Belt Conference. All he’s done is taken the Mountaineers to 9 or more wins in three of its first four years in FBS football and were ranked No. 25 last week before a tough loss moved them to 5-2 on the season.
While he is a Mountaineers alum, Satterfield is not immune to hearing out other offers and this is a perfect year for him to capitalize on what he’s built with that program.
To top it off, Satterfield put his team in to Happy Valley and made Penn State squirm all the way to overtime just a few months ago.
If his Appalachian State team can do that, imagine what he could do with more resources like Maryland could provide.
He may not be a “sexy” name on the coaching carousel, but Maryland needs to focus on finding the head coach that can be a long-term leader. Satterfield is as steady and rock-solid as they come.
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