Maryland bringing back Mike Locksley, this time as head coach

Yahoo Sports
Mike Locksley has been an assistant at Alabama for the last three seasons, including as offensive coordinator this year. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Mike Locksley has been an assistant at Alabama for the last three seasons, including as offensive coordinator this year. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Maryland is turning to a familiar face to lead its football program.

The school announced Tuesday night that it has hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head coach. Before spending the last three seasons under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, Locksley was Maryland’s offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2015 and served as the Terps’ interim head coach after Randy Edsall was let go in 2015. Before that, Locksley was a Terps assistant from 1997-2002.

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“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 AD Damon Evans said.

Locksley named nation’s top assistant for efforts at Alabama

Alabama’s offense has soared to new heights this season, Locksley’s first year as offensive coordinator (he was an analyst in 2016 and co-offensive coordinator in 2017). With Heisman finalist Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback, the Crimson Tide is averaging 47.9 points (No. 2 nationally) and 527.6 yards (No. 7) per game entering the College Football Playoff.

For his efforts, Locksley won the Broyles Award, given to college football’s top assistant coach, earlier Tuesday.

“On the field, Michael orchestrated one of the country’s most prolific offenses at the University of Alabama and has long been regarded for his recruiting prowess. Today he was recognized as the nation’s top assistant coach in the country, and I’m excited for him to be leading our program,” Evans said.

Added Locksley: “I am thrilled to be returning home and to have the opportunity to lead the Maryland Football program. 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. Our focus will always be to help them become more successful in all areas of their life through their association with our program.”

Locksley returns to Maryland at a tumultuous time

Locksley, a 48-year-old Washington D.C. native, has had many other stops aside from Maryland and Alabama, including a tumultuous stint as head coach at New Mexico, where he had just a 2-26 record and was fired after starting 0-4 in his third season. Before getting the head-coaching job at New Mexico, Locksley had stops at Army, Florida and a four-year run as the offensive coordinator at Illinois.

Now back at a university he knows well, Locksley is tasked with leading Maryland out of the shadows of the D.J. Durkin era. Following stints as the defensive coordinator at Florida and Michigan, Durkin went 10-15 in his first two seasons leading the Terps.

However, Durkin did not coach this season after being put on administrative leave in the aftermath of the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. McNair collapsed during a conditioning workout and died weeks later. In the weeks that followed, ESPN reported that the Maryland program under Durkin had a “toxic” culture.

After a lengthy investigation into the program, Maryland’s board of trustees decided to bring Durkin back as head coach. However, after massive backlash, school president Wallace Loh overruled the decision and terminated Durkin the next day.

With Durkin out of the picture, offensive coordinator Matt Canada served as interim head coach. The Terps went 5-7 with Canada running the show. Canada interviewed for the full-time job, but the school ultimately went with Locksley.

“I have been tremendously impressed at how the team came together through a difficult season and honored their fallen teammate, Jordan. We are all in this together, and I look forward to rejoining the Maryland family. Thank you to Damon Evans, President Loh and the entire Terrapin community for this opportunity,” Locksley said.

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