There’s no way of knowing what would have happened if the University of Maryland had hired Mike Locksley to be its head football coach the last time the job was open, but it’s fair to wonder.
Locksley was the offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall and served as interim coach for the final six games of the 2015 season. Though a highly regarded recruiter, he was passed over in favor of DJ Durkin, who was fired Oct. 31 in the aftermath of offensive lineman Jordan McNair’s death from heatstroke in June.
In 2015, highly regarded local quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins committed to Maryland and vowed to bring a bunch of top local players with him. Haskins, of course, decommitted and is now a Heisman Trophy finalist after a record-setting season at Ohio State. Whether he would have stayed and become a major college star at Maryland if Locksley had been hired is not something that is within the realm of reasonable determination, but Locksley’s return to College Park figures to jump-start recruiting after it languished during six months of turmoil in the athletic department.
To be fair to the previous selection process, Locksley was a different candidate three years ago. He won only one of the six games during his tenure as interim head coach and had a 2-26 record in his first Division I head coaching job at New Mexico. He was fired in 2011 during his third season there after being named in a sexual and age discrimination complaint that was later dropped and engaging in a physical altercation with an assistant coach that led to a 10-day suspension.
Upon leaving Maryland when Durkin took over, he was hired by Alabama coach Nick Saban as a quality control coach and promoted to offensive coordinator at the end of last season. All he has done since then is help the Crimson Tide return to the College Football Playoff and win the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Locksley has quite a challenge ahead of him. He’ll inherit some talented players from the team that almost knocked off Ohio State a few weeks ago, but the Terps have lost ground to the major powers in the Big Ten despite very solid recruiting classes the past two years.