On Tuesday, Maryland briefly reinstated suspended head coach DJ Durkin, before firing him Wednesday under significant public pressure.
Durkin was suspended through the first eight games of the season following the school’s investigation into the death of former Terps offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who fell ill at a team workout on May 29 and died June 13.
After Durkin’s reinstatement but before his firing, a group of active Terrapin players spoke out against the decision.
It was reported that when Durkin addressed the team after he was reinstated, several players walked out of the meeting. From Maryland blog Testudo Times:
InsideMdSports’ Jeff Ermann said one of the players to walk out, Ellis McKennie, returned to practice.
McKennie, a redshirt junior offensive lineman, posted this to Twitter not long after:
Every Saturday my teammates and I have to kneel before the memorial of our fallen teammate. Yet a group of people do not have the courage to hold anyone accountable for his death. If only they could have the courage that Jordan had. It’s never the wrong time to do what’s right. pic.twitter.com/AaZVmLGTtS— Ellis McKennie (@emck_cubed97) October 30, 2018
And several other players shared sentiments similar to McKennie’s.
Senior linebacker Tre Watson:
Bruh you know I’m right here with you. Accountability is something people apparently struggle too much with and yet it doesn’t hurt them, but it comes right to us and led to the position we’re in today https://t.co/HoYkAWljJ5— Tre Watson (@MDQue_33) October 31, 2018
Junior defensive tackle Adam McLean:
My brother Jordan can no longer speak his mind he must live and speak through us https://t.co/3kOS3GR3N3— JUICE MCLEAN (@GodsGift_42) October 31, 2018
Freshman receiver Michael Cornwell:
Justice will come Mr. Marty in one form or another https://t.co/nlnAcc9jgp— Michael Cornwell (@mikecorn5) October 30, 2018
Freshman offensive lineman Tyran Hunt:
At the end of the day, a YOUNG life was lost. My brother, teammate. And to boil it down to even horrific matters, a paycheck was chosen over that life. Through whatever and forever, I live for Jordan Martin McNair. https://t.co/YX18QH6Pl5— Tyran Hunt (@tyranjhunt) October 31, 2018
After Durkin’s firing came down on Wednesday, that same group of players celebrated the news.
79 forever! Rest In Peace Jordan!— Ellis McKennie (@emck_cubed97) October 31, 2018
"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it's the presence of justice" pic.twitter.com/9zzJqsXXyq— Michael Cornwell (@mikecorn5) October 31, 2018
Pressure busts pipes doesn’t it??— Tre Watson (@MDQue_33) October 31, 2018
We never stopped working just for the heads up lol see y’all Saturday— JUICE MCLEAN (@GodsGift_42) November 1, 2018
And offensive lineman Johnny Jordan, who was McNair’s roommate and a pallbearer at his funeral:
Maryland football player Johnny Jordan spoke to reporters outside of Gossett Football Team House shortly after coach DJ Durkin was fired. He said the “right decision was made for justice for Jordan.” pic.twitter.com/DLvVsnhwSm— Talia Richman (@TaliRichman) November 1, 2018
There wasn’t one consensus about Durkin’s program from Maryland’s players.
While Maryland’s investigation looked into the death and handling of McNair’s health during the summer workout, it also looked into an ESPN report from August of a “toxic culture” in place under Durkin. Maryland’s investigation found it was a culture “where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out.”
Many did speak out to the school’s investigators, who wrote in their report: “As with virtually every question we posed to the stakeholders in the football program, our questions about the program’s culture elicited a broad spectrum of views.”
For instance, one current player told the commission:
“It is a somewhat a toxic culture. It is an alpha male one. And if you don’t buy in to what they are saying they find a way to weave you out. They use humiliation and talk down to players. Some coaches are good though and show the players mutual respect.”
And another said:
“It’s been toxic because everyone was new and didn’t know how to run a program but it has gotten better over the years.”
And another player who played for Durkin said:
“[The culture was] miserable. I was very miserable the whole time. I was depressed, tired, and most importantly, I hated football. I felt like all the other players hated it as much as me. I felt like several position coaches hated it as well. No one was enjoying it for the two seasons I was here under Durkin it seemed like.”
Now this era of Maryland football is over.