Maryland football assistants detail 'whirlwind' hirings in their own words

Then-Virginia coach Mike London works his team during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Pittsburgh. London has since taken a job on DJ Durkin's staff at Maryland.
Then-Virginia coach Mike London works his team during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Pittsburgh. London has since taken a job on DJ Durkin's staff at Maryland. (Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

The most common word used by Maryland's new assistant coaches when talking about their hiring processes on Tuesday afternoon was "whirlwind." In coach DJ Durkin adding Pete Lembo, Mike London, Walt Bell and Scott Shafer to his staff, things often came together over the course of a few days or a week. In the end, Durkin put together an experienced coaching staff that believes success is possible in College Park.

Here's the new quartet of coaches on their hirings in their own words.


Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Pete Lembo

"When we had our initial conversation, I could remember hanging up the phone and calling my wife and saying, wow this is really intriguing. I really think this is a genuine guy who is down to earth who would value my role, and I think I could make a meaningful contribution if this were to all work out."


Durkin on Lembo during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show on Jan. 5

"You got to do a great job in selling. Pete and I talked probably every night on the phone for about two weeks. It was a really big thing obviously for us to get him here, and he just has a wealth of experience as a head coach. He's a very smart intellectual guy. He's from this area. I think it's just a great fit."

Associate head coach/defensive line coach Mike London

"We just talked about life in general. ... We're all formed or made up of experiences that we've had in our lives. I told him about the experience of being a police officer and having the gun put to my head. I told him about being a bone marrow donor to my daughter, saved her life at Johns Hopkins hospital a half-hour from here. It's just so eerie, just the place that a new birth was created is just moments up the road here. We talked about those things and no football stuff.

"I left that meeting and I told my wife, I don't know what else is out there, but I believe God's got a plan and purpose for a lot of things. A couple days later, let's go, let's do it."

Durkin on London in a December interview

"Mike absolutely believes in the core beliefs, the core values of our program, of what I've set out for our team, our culture. He's 100 percent in line with that. He and I spent an afternoon together and we both probably knew it was a perfect fit."

Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer

"When we were at Stanford, I was the defensive coordinator there for Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and then DJ coached our defensive line and special teams, and that was where we got to work together first, and we just connected. We connected really fast. It was just an extremely natural process. We're both from Northeast Ohio. We both have really similar values and mindset on what football is supposed to be. When I was looking for a job after Syracuse, DJ called and asked me if I'd be interested and I told him hell yeah."

Durkin on Shafer in a December interview

"I know Scott as a person, first and foremost. He's a great person, a great family man. Probably the thing that he does the best and we both believe in the same things in terms of your attitude, your effort, your enthusiasm can overcome a lot. That's the most important thing. Sometimes I think it's overlooked in football."

Offensive coordinator Walt Bell


"I had kind of wrapped my mind around that that's where I was going to stay. I had an opportunity for a couple different jobs, which in the media and all that stuff, neither one of those was the right fit and I had just kind of wrapped my mind around it. I was going to stay in Arkansas for another year. I had a great situation, great kids, loved Coach [Blake] Anderson and all those things.

"I got to spend some time with Coach Durkin. Honestly, I took the job because of him, for a couple reasons: No. 1, just the confidence, the plan, the things that I believe in are eerily similar to the things that he believes in. Hadn't known each other ever, but it felt like I was sitting in a room for three or four hours with a guy I've known my entire life, so immediately I was really comfortable."



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