Reports: Terps Football set to hire Alabama Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley as next Head Coach

COLLEGE PARK, MD — Late Tuesday night, Brett McMurphy reported that the University of Maryland football program is going to hire current Alabama Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley to be their next head football coach. Locksley said the following:

Per reports, Locksley has signed a five-year deal with an option for an additional year with Maryland. He will earn roughly $2.5 million annually. Locksley will return to Maryland after a three -year stint with the Crimson Tide with his first year coming as an offensive assistant and his past two seasons as their offensive coordinator. Alabama’s offense ranks second in the country this season, averaging 47.9 points-per-game. They also rank seventh in yards-per-game as well. Locksley was recently awarded the Broyles Award handed out to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Locksley was a no-brainer type hire for a Terrapins program searching for the right man to lead it after the Jordan McNair scandal rocked College Park this summer. Interim Head Coach Matt Canada did a nice job this season keeping the Terps competitivie and the team together in what had to be the most trying football season of these young men’s lives.

But the issue with hanging onto Canada as the potential full-time head coach was that he was present during the entire McNair saga. And while he had nothing to do with the incident or its aftermath, the necessity to remove all parts of the program that were present at the time of the scandal outweighed Canada’s contributions to the program.

Locksley will return to Maryland for his third stint with the program. He started with the Terrapins in 1997 when he was the running backs coach and remained with the program from 1998-2002 in that same role.  He had stops at Florida as a running backs coach and running game coordinator as well as a run as offensive coordinator at Illinois from 2005-2008.

locksley

Mike Locksley has a great coaching background. Just don’t ask anyone at New Mexico where Locksley was 2-26 as Head Coach. Image Credit: One Bronco Nation

Locksley then became the head coach at New Mexico and his tenure there was rocky to say the least. While amassing a record of 2-26 in three seasons at the helm, there were also two minor scandals that clouded his tenure. In May 2009 a former administrative assistant accused Locksley of subjecting her to age and sexual discrimination but the claims were later withdrawn.

The second incident occurred in September 2009 when he was reprimanded for having an altercation with an assistant coach. Locksley was suspended without pay following the incident. He returned to Maryland in 2012 and was the OC and QB coach until 2015 when he became the interim head coach for Maryland’s last six games of the 2015 seasons compiling a record of 1-5.

Locksley is coming back to Maryland after a successful tenure as the Alabama OC. But why would Maryland want to bring in a head coach that has two prior incidents in his head coaching tenure and a 3-31 career record?

Locksley is Washington D.C. native and knows this Maryland football program very well. He knows the DMV area talent as well as anyone on the college football scene. He was heavily involved in the recruitment of recent DMV prep stars Stefon Diggs and Dwayne Haskins. The DMV area is one of the top 10 areas in the country for high school football recruiting and Locksley has continued his relationships with key players and coaches in this area throughout his tenure at Alabama.

The hire is earning rave reviews:

While there are no guarantees that Maryland picked the right guy to lead their football program moving forward, it seems as if the court of public opinion is confident that Locksley can get the Terps heading the right direction.

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Maryland cracks top-25 in latest AP poll

On Monday afternoon the Associated Press released their NCAA men’s basketball poll for week four of the 2018-29 season. After winning their first six games of the season, the Maryland Terrapins find themselves ranked No. 24 in the nation. This is the first time since February of 2017 that the Terps have been in the AP top-25.

This early emergence in the top-25 may come as a surprise considering what happened in the offseason. Mark Turgeon was able to recruit another strong class but losing starters like Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson to the NBA draft was a huge loss. Even after retaining key players like Anthony Cowan and Bruno Fernando, voters and media personalities struggled to pin down Maryland. Some had them finishing toward the top of the conference while others failed to see how they could build any momentum with such a young core. However, it appears many are starting to become convinced that this young Terps squad can make some noise this year.

Having Maryland in the top 25 will also be great for the upcoming ACC / Big Ten challenge as the Terps prepare to host Virginia on Wednesday November 28. The Cavaliers are currently ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and are coming off the heels of a nice 53-46 win over No. 25 Wisconsin.

This Wednesday’s nationally televised game will surely be a good one as Virginia receives their first big road test and the Terps will get their first chance for a resume win. The importance of this matchup cannot be stressed enough. The Big Ten currently has seven teams in the AP top-25 but Maryland may only get the chance to host a ranked team one or two more times this season.

The last time these two teams met was in December of 2014. The Terps knocked off the Cavilers in their final ACC home game earlier that year but Virginia would get it’s revenge on Maryland by taking them down in the ACC / Big Ten challenge. Almost four years later, there is still no love lost between these former conference foes.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

KEYS TO VICTORY: Maryland Terrapins vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

As the Terps welcome the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-4) to College Park today, they look for a bounce back win after being shutout in Iowa 23-0 just a week ago. A windy day in Iowa last week looked to help the Terps run-heavy offense, but that simply was not the case.

The Terps were absolutely dominated in every facet of the game. The offense was abysmal behind another poor outing from Kasim Hill, who completed just six passes for 47 yards. The Terps run game was also stymied all day as they ran for just 68 yards after entering play averaging 245 a game on the ground. The once stout Maryland front was bullied by the Iowa offensive line and the defense simply could not get off the field as Iowa was 9 of 18 on third downs and 3 of 4 on fourth downs. The Hawkeyes possessed the ball for more than 40 minutes of the 60 minute ball game. Matt Canada expressed his feelings post game:

“It was very disappointing that we played the way we played and I take full blame for it.”  “You have to find a way to win. I take it very personally. We’re trying to find the best way to get our players going. They chewed the ball up the first quarter. We have to play better on offense, we have to play better all-around though. We have to get them off the field on defense. I take it personally, yeah, for sure.”

Today’s match up will be the first time ever the Terps and the Fighting Illini have ever played each other in football. They both sit in 3rd place in their respective divisions, the Terps at (4-3, 2-2) and Illinois at (3-4, 1-3). The Illini have lost two straight games to Purdue and Wisconsin. Both teams are becoming desperate for wins at this point in the season as they try to reach the six win threshold for bowl game eligibility. The Terrapins have yet to lose back-to-back games this season and they are 3-1 at home while outscoring visiting teams 124-84.

Keys To Victory:

Find the offense – The Maryland offense has been atrocious in each of their three losses this season. They have also failed to score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter in each of their three losses. Last week the Terps were only able to muster 115 yards of total offense and that’s just not going to cut if they want to become bowl eligible. Poor quarterback play certainly doesn’t help things for the run game as it make the offense extremely limited. I hope Matt Canada can swallow some pride and make a change at quarterback. Maybe Tyrrell Pigrome can bring more to the table. He is certainly the more athletic option at quarterback. If the offense struggles today, and Kasim Hill continues his crummy play, look for Canada to make a change. This team is getting desperate for wins and the road ahead is not very promising, with games against Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State still left on the schedule.

Get Ty Johnson More Involved – Johnson now ranks third in all-purpose yards in program history but last week he didn’t get one touch until the third quarter. There is simply no excuse. Johnson is easily one of the most explosive players on this team and he should be seeing the ball early and often. Matt Canada needs to take a step back and re-evaluate the distribution of touches on this offense. Johnson is leading the team in rushing yards at 450 and is averaging more than seven yards per attempt.

Off The Field Distractions – The University System of Maryland Board of Regents met with DJ Durkin, Wallace D. Loh, and Damon Evans Friday to discuss finding from two separate investigations. The first investigation was the conclusions surrounding the June 13th death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. The second was a two-month-long investigation into the overall “Toxic” culture of the program under head coach DJ Durkin. Matt Canada has been excellent at rallying his troops every time there has been an off the field distraction this season:

  • August 11th – DJ Durkin placed on administrative leave / Sept 1st – Terps upset #23 Texas in season opener 34-29.
  • September 21st – Walters report released which found Maryland athletic trainers failed to properly diagnose and treat the heat stroke symptoms McNair that led to his death / September 22nd – Terps route the Minnesota Golden Gophers 42-13.

The Board Of Regents met individually with all three men, Coach DJ Durkin, University President Wallace D. Loh, and Athletic Director Damon Evans. No decisions about their job statuses has announced following the five-hour meeting.

Prediction: Terps 35, Fighting Illini 17

The Details:

  • When: Saturday October 27th, 3:30pm
  • Where: Maryland Stadium, College Park, Maryland
  • Radio: 105.7TheFan
  • TV: BIG10 Network

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun