By the late afternoon of Week 11 Saturday, there were only two Power 5 head coach openings: the jobs at Maryland and Kansas. The Terps fired DJ Durkin on Halloween, and Kansas fired David Beaty (effective at the end of the season) days later.
Durkin and Beaty lost their jobs for drastically different reasons. Durkin lost his because he was credibly found to have built a culture that made players fear to speak out for their own safety (and, more directly, because of massive public backlash after Maryland power-brokers decided they didn’t care that much and wanted to keep Durkin anyway). Beaty lost his job because Kansas has been exceedingly terrible over four seasons in charge.
On Saturday, a report connected Durkin with Kansas.
Rivals reported Durkin wasn’t a candidate but had talked with AD Jeff Long about the job:
Sources have told Jayhawk Slant that Kansas athletics director Jeff Long has talked [to] former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin about the opening.
I can also confirm that Durkin contacted Kansas about the opening and is not a candidate for the job.
It’s totally believable that Durkin, a recently fired head coach, would reach out to the only athletic director currently looking for a coach at another Power 5 school. I don’t have any reason to doubt that reporting. But a Durkin hire won’t happen, because ...
Long was unusually public about distancing Durkin from the job, though.
First, without naming Durkin:
KU fans, you don’t know me very well if you believe the latested speculation, I attempt to run a very confidential search and I am doing so now. The search is ongoing. Rock Chalk!!— Jeff Long (@jefflongKU) November 10, 2018
Then, not subtly at all:
And if you believe rumors you should be immediately _____________ Rock Chalk!! just joking with you !!! https://t.co/p9oRWKWhmS— Jeff Long (@jefflongKU) November 10, 2018
A coach (or agent) and an AD talking informally about a job wouldn’t be surprising at all, but there are a few reasons to believe Long’s suggestion that Durkin won’t get anywhere close to the Kansas job.
- The most obvious and biggest one: Durkin just lost his job in disgrace a week and a half ago, after he was a primary subject of a damning 192-page investigative report.
- Another one: Durkin’s getting more than $5 million in buyout money from Maryland, so he doesn’t have to take a job right now. His Maryland contract doesn’t include a duty to look for other work to offset the buyout, not that he’d need to take this job even if it did.
- And another: Durkin’s coached all over the Midwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic, but he has no experience in or around Kansas — most notably not in Texas, where any KU coach needs to do a really good recruiting job to succeed.
Durkin makes no sense for Kansas, and Kansas doesn’t even make much sense for Durkin. It’s safe to rule this out as a fit.
Also, Long doesn’t follow Durkin on Twitter, the truest measure of whether someone’s a candidate for this job or not.