Maryland Football: Andy Buh answers the call to become Terps' defensive coordinator

When Andy Buh got the phone call from DJ Durkin, he wasn't surprised. The two talk regularly and are friends from coaching at Stanford in the late 2000s, so the Maryland coach calling the then-Kentucky outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator wasn't much out of the ordinary.

The subject matter was different this time.


Durkin asked Buh if he would be his new defensive coordinator after Scott Shafer stepped down from the position for "personal reasons" on Friday. After mulling it over with his family, Buh accepted Durkin's offer. He had a special teams meeting with Kentucky on Monday morning, and at a team meeting, he announced he was taking the Maryland job.

Buh and his wife, Kelly, flew to Maryland on Monday night, and early Tuesday morning, Buh was surveying his new unit on the practice fields in College Park.

"The last 48 hours have been fine," Buh said at a press conference late Tuesday morning. "We kind of just took a deep breath and took things step-by-step. The first thing was to finish the job at Kentucky. That was really important to me and obviously Coach Durkin and with [Kentucky coach Mark] Stoops is just to finish what I started there. … Mark was unbelievable and DJ's been great too. So it's been pretty seamless."

Durkin's phone call to Buh was the lone one he said he placed in trying to fill the void left by Shafer. Buh and Durkin coached at Stanford from 2007-09 on current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's staff and formed a friendship that's latest through Durkin's rise in the coaching ranks and Buh's stops since at Nevada, Wisconsin, California, and Kentucky.

"We're building a culture," Durkin said. "We're building a program right now with our guys. There's a certain way we do things, and it's really, really important to me having the right people involved in our program. It's a very selective thing."

Durkin said if Buh hadn't been able to take the defensive coordinator position, he might have waited until the end of spring practice to fill the position. He didn't have a self-imposed deadline for filling the position, and he was looking for "the right guy."

The timing for Buh to take over is less than ideal for Maryland — Tuesday's practice was the 10th of 15, and the spring game is next Saturday — but with Buh, Durkin said there shouldn't be any issues with a transition.

"The great thing for our guys is nothing's changed for them defensively," Durkin said. "There's no terminology, nothing different. The system we're running, the scheme we're running is the same. … And so I think in terms of players, if you were trying to switch philosophies in the middle of spring, that would be a little bit crazy. With what we're doing right now, it'll be minimal for the players."

When asked how much he was familiar with Maryland, Buh answered "not much," but he's "followed it a little bit because my best friend's the head coach here." He has prior experience in the Big Ten Conference from spending 2012 as the linebackers coach at Wisconsin, but most of his experience has been in the western part of the country.

Buh becomes the fourth defensive coordinator at Maryland in about 14 months. Brian Stewart left last February after three seasons to become the defensive backs coach at Nebraska, and he was succeeded by Keith Dudzinski, who wasn't retained by Durkin. Shafer held the title for a little less than four months. Now it's Buh's turn.

Buh inherits a Maryland defense that allowed 421 yards per game, which ranked 90th in the country, and 34.4 points per game, which ranked 103rd. The Terps lost three starters in the secondary to graduation and their top two defensive lineman to the NFL draft.

But after his reunion with Durkin, Buh feels he's up for the challenge of helping revamp a struggling defense in one of the nation's toughest divisions in the Big Ten East.

"It came to the point where this was the best decision for me and my family," Buh said. "But [I'm] really excited about the opportunity to reunite with a friend, a longtime friend and coach. That's very rare in this business, so we're excited to get moving on this venture."