No End In Sight

DJ Durkin

If it feels as if I’ve been bitching incessantly about the state of big time college sports lately, welp, it’s because I have been. And if you’re figuring on sticking a killjoy label on yours truly, Imma reply with the same line most of these big time coaches would feed you.

Don’t blame me.

D.J. Durkin is the latest big time coach to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Maryland Terrapins head coach is currently on paid administrative leave following allegations that he presided over a “toxic culture” in his brief tenure as field boss at the university. That’s a nuanced way of describing behavior that, in most any other profession, would have landed Durkin in a courtroom by now.

The “toxic culture” included coaching based on fear and intimidation. One of the ring leaders was strength and conditioning coach Rick Court- one of Durkin’s first hires back in 2015. According to sources, Court would target players he deemed ‘soft’, after which he verbally and in some cases, physically assaulted them. When they wanted a player to lose weight, they ordered him to watch his teammates work out while he was forced to eat candy bars. When they wanted another player to gain weight, they forced him to eat to the point of vomiting. One player was even chastised for passing out during a drill.

Durkin was hired less than three years ago for his supposed ability to lead young men. Jordan McNair-a red-shirt freshman- was one of those young men. The offensive lineman turned down an offer by the Alabama Crimson Tide because he wanted to play close to home. He was described as an extremely talented player who worked hard at getting better. A humble and friendly kid, he was nineteen years old.

Jordan McNair

On May 29th, McNair collapsed on a practice field at the University of Maryland. Evidence suggests that McNair was showing signs of heatstroke during 110-yard sprints, and that forty five minutes into the drills, he collapsed. This is when Coach Durkin and his staff were supposed to behave like leaders instead of gulag commanders. This is when they should have begun the process of cooling McNair’s body temperature down. This is when someone should have been calling 911. None of these things happened.

One hour passed before a call was made to 911. When McNair was admitted to a local hospital an hour and a half after collapsing on the practice field, his body temperature was recorded at 106. He was airlifted to a shock trauma center later that night. Less than a week later, McNair received a liver transplant. On June 13th, the humble, hard working kid with the big smile was dead.

At a press conference the day after McNair’s death, Coach Durkin said it wasn’t “reasonable that a nineteen year old should pass away,” while conveniently ignoring the fact that he and his coaching staff might have been the reason.

Durkin seemed initially receptive to changing up the culture of his program, but several players claim that it was business as usual once preseason camp opened earlier this month. And then last week, Durkin and several members of his staff were placed on paid administrative leave. Almost two months after failing a young man they had been entrusted with.

That it took two months to arrive here is pathetic. That Durkin and his staff will not be charged with a crime is incomprehensible. And that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp defended the indefensible is beyond insulting.

Muschamp came to the defense of Durkin at a press conference recently in which he described his former assistant at Florida as being above reproach. In the world according to Will, we should be angry at all the “gutless” unnamed sources in the Maryland scandal and not scumbags like Durkin and Court.

Never once in that tirade did Muschamp mention Jordan McNair.

 

 

 

Bread and Circuses

We Love Urban

I get it.

The ongoing Urban Meyer investigation is nothing more than a PR campaign. When Ohio State officials issued a statement in which they promised a decision within “fourteen days”, it meant they plan on bringing him back, unless more damning evidence comes out before then.

So of course, a hundred or so clueless individuals showed up for a rally in support of Coach Meyer last Monday. And so I composed a letter to them. To the vast majority of Ohio State peeps who get it, please understand that I bear no ill will to you, your school or your sports programs. This is for the small minority of fools whose priorities should be questioned, not simply by yours truly, but by anyone who knows them.

Dear Ralliers,

I’m writing to you on behalf of all the battered women out there who have more important things to do than post a blog. Important things, like survive. They don’t have time to ask Urban Meyer why he would aid and abet a known abuser over all these years. They don’t have time to ask why you thought it was a good idea to hold a rally for someone like Urban Meyer.

Nut

Thing is, you were probably quick to slam Penn State. Michigan State too. And you were right on both counts, of course. Because the respective administrations of those two schools needed to be held accountable for horrific cover-ups. Problem is, your indignation seems to have been more about conference affiliation- The Lions and Spartans are Big Ten rivals- than about concern for the victims.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t expecting much from your small (thankfully) contingent. And yet, you managed to give us so much less anyway. Because wins and conference titles and playoff appearances are what matter most to you. Because you let us know that when you held a rally for a coach who is still employed because he can supply those things to your fan base.

If Urban Meyer was anything less than a great coach, he would’ve been gone by now. You would have been plenty fine with doing the right thing . . in that instance. But in this one, Meyer did wrong, and then he perpetuated that wrong by keeping an abuser on his payroll, and the only reason you’re okay with that is because of his 73-8 record.

What does it say about you . . that you would stand behind a bad guy like Meyer? That you would rally for his job when the facts demand that he be gone? What does it say about you that wins matter more than Courtney Smith’s well being? That wins matter more than the women who are being abused every single day? What does it say about you that, when you had a chance to do the right thing and demand that Meyer be fired immediately, you chose to hide behind his 73-8 record? What does it say about you, that you chose cult behavior over courage and compassion?

Me Too!

You should be ashamed of yourselves. But as that rally you held for Urban Meyer shows us all too well, you have no shame. Because the truth is, you might have been able to make a real difference in the interim. As your school waits it out in the hopes they won’t have to fire Meyer for his transgressions, you could have stayed neutral to the decision while still making a statement of hope and change. Because while an independent panel of investigators that includes three Ohio State trustees conducts its sham investigation, you could have issued a preemptive warning to Meyer’s second act, which seems more likely by the day. You could’ve put Meyer on notice.

You could have gotten together in support of all the women who are abused every single day. You could have gathered to remember all the women who have lost their lives to their abusers. And in so doing, you could have sent a message to this big name coach and his big deal program that by helping one abuser, they do an injustice to all those who are abused.

Because your cowardly rally comprised of weak minded individuals? It was the stuff of lemmings. You trashed journalists for uncovering the truth. You belittled a movement that is trying to move out of the dark ages. You defended a coach who hides behind bible study sessions and plausible denials. And why? You did so in the name of trophies.

I thought you should know that since you held your little rally on Monday? Twelve women have been murdered by their current or former male partners. And by the time this investigation is completed by that other Urban Meyer fan club? Thirty more women will have been murdered by their current or former male partners.

Your football coach is part of the problem, and so are you.