Maryland football has not won a conference title since winning the regular season ACC crown in 2001. The best conference finish for Maryland since 2001 has been a 6-2 record in 2003. In essence, the football program has not been relevant for over 14 years, and it has become more apparent now that they are in the Big Ten. The school knew it had to change the culture to try and compete with the likes of Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State. However, with the news coming out this week of a toxic culture at College Park, Maryland football has become just another football program that values winning above morality.
This week, ESPN broke the story that Maryland football trainers and coaches created a toxic environment for the student athletes. The story hovers around the sudden death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed on the field after running several 110-yard sprints and having a body temperature of 106 degrees. Some players and coaches did step forward and note that the environment under Coach Durkin was hostile, belittling and emasculating. Players stated they would have small weights thrown at them, food slapped out of their hand and used eating food as a punishment.
Sadly, Terps football has not been the only football program mired in toxic situations, as we have seen Ohio State’s coach Urban Meyer under investigation for allowing domestic abuse to happen with one of his coaches, Penn State allowing former Defensive coordinator Gerry Sandusky to molest children, and Texas Tech’s Mike Leach abuse of former Tech player Craig James. The issue with most of these schools is that the head coaches practically run a dictatorship once hired by the Athletic Director and is rarely reigned in; if the team is winning, then all is well. This is just another chapter in the hypocrisy of the NCAA’s stance on players being students first and athletes second; college football is a billion dollar industry that allows coaches to sign outside endorsement deals and have guaranteed money, while players are reprimanded for selling their own shoes.
Maryland football is just a couple weeks from starting the season, but the Athletic department needs to clean house. Coach Durkin and everyone he brought in needs to go. With a player’s death on their watch, Maryland now contains a stain that will be difficult to get rid of as they try to recruit new players for the 2019 football season.
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