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Tim Tebow took aim at the University of Maryland administration during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Friday, choosing to lay into the school for going back on its initial decision to retain head football coach D.J. Durkin.
Maryland announced Tuesday the coach would return from administrative leave, then changed course a day later and fired him. He was on leave following reports of a “toxic” culture after offensive lineman Jordan McNair died during workouts in June.
In the hours between alumni, current students, members of the football team and politicians from both sides of the aisle, among many others, condemned the school for its decision.
Of all things it was that which Tebow took particular issue with, blaming Maryland for a “lack of conviction” and desire to be liked over all else.
Tebow asks schools to have conviction
Tebow did not say if he thought Durkin should have been fired or not. He did say since the school initially stood by its coach, that should have continued no matter the noise outside.
“It shows that people are so afraid to have conviction to believe in something when they make a decision that they’re like, oh my goodness, social media’s against him, we’re going to fire him now,” he said. “You just made a decision to keep him. Like, if that’s your decision, if you believe that’s what’s right for the program, then it shouldn’t matter what I say. It shouldn’t matter what social media says. It shouldn’t matter.”
Tebow continued with his belief that people are more focused on being liked rather than respected and that more universities need to “have the courage to say, ‘You know what, I’d rather be respected than liked.’ ”
He referenced the decision at Tennessee last fall when the school announced it was hiring Greg Schiano as head coach, then decided against it.
“I want these presidents and ADs to stand up and when you say something, have it mean something,” Tebow said. “Let’s be men of our word and have character when we say something, we believe in it, we have conviction.
“Have respect. Stand up for what you believe in.”
The backlash was much more than social media
The board of regents announced it accepted the findings of the investigation into the circumstances around McNair’s death and ultimately chose to keep Durkin in charge.
While people did take to social media to voice displeasure, it was much more than the basic social media anger Tebow is referring.
University president Wallace Loh was not comfortable with Durkin returning, and announced he himself would be retiring at the end of the year. The University of Maryland Foundation sent a letter to the school’s board of regents saying it “dealt our [fundraising] efforts a fatal blow.”
And in a rare sight for the day and age, more so than a want to be liked, there was bi-partisan support from Maryland political figures in condemning the college for its initial decision.
Rep. Anthony Brown (D) released a statement early Wednesday calling for Durkin to be fired, adding the choice to keep him was “appalling and unconscionable” and failed McNair once again.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) released a statement saying the board of regents should reconsider and schedule a public hearing.
“I share the concerns of many Marylanders and believe very strongly that more must be done to restore the public trust,” he wrote.
And a group of 25 Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter to the university chancellor urging Durkin to be fired.
In the time frame Tebow is referring to, Maryland was neither respected nor liked and had much more going on than people on social media disliking the institution.
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