There’s a disturbing football story in College Park, Md., that’s making national headlines.
The University of Maryland has placed head football coach D.J. Durkin, two athletic trainers and a strength coach on administrative leave while the school reviews circumstances surrounding the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
McNair, according to ESPN, died of heatstroke in June, two weeks after taking part in a workout May 29. According to the ESPN report, sources said the player had difficulty standing upright while running a set off 110-yard sprints and was found to have a body temperature of 106 degrees when he checked in at a local hospital.
There’s a lot more to this story.
But the big picture is that there’s an ugly culture at the U of M under Durkin, where players are allegedly verbally abused and humiliated in front of teammates. Coaching, according to media reports, is based on intimidation and fear. Players are basically told to “suck it up.” There’s one report where coaches have endorsed unhealthy eating habits and in one instance, a player said he was forced to overate or eat to the point of vomiting.
What has coaching become?
Tough workouts and short-tempered, in-your-face coaches are nothing new in sports. See: Bob Knight.
However, if it’s all true — and it is being investigated fully — what is going on at Maryland is more than excessive.
Durkin should never coach again at any level if this stuff really happened.
I have no problems working players hard to get them in shape and if yelling a bit works for a coach, that’s fine and dandy too.
But does a player need to be worked to the point his body temperature is dangerously high and he staggers across the field? And he later dies?
Bad, bad, bad.
I really want to say that it’s involuntary manslaughter. But I won’t go there.
But here’s where I will go. Maryland might as well shut down the program if Durkin stays. I certainly wouldn’t want to play for that type of a coach. And I wouldn’t want my kids playing there either.
Even if he promises to tone things down, who will hold him accountable?
Somebody tell me how this kind of coaching makes a program better? How will this help any team win on Saturday? How will it help recruiting?
I know football players are supposed to be “tough” and “manly.”
But what allegedly is going on at Maryland is not making players tougher.
It’s making players resent the coaches and hate the sport.
And in this extreme case, it is allegedly contributing to the death of a young player.
Parents should never have to bury a child. And it’s worse when it was a result of a toxic situation created due to poor decisions.
I hope this is an isolated incident. And I pray that the high school and college football coaches in our coverage area don’t do this thinking its how you build a winning program.
Because it’s not.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.