South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp blasted an ESPN story that targeted his former defensive coordinator and referred to the anonymous sources for that report as “gutless” on Saturday morning.
DJ Durkin, who was Muschamp’s defensive coordinator at Florida from 2011-2014, is now the head coach at Maryland. Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair died in June after a football workout, and this week ESPN published a report citing anonymous “current Maryland players, multiple people close to the football program, and former players and football staffers” who alleged an abusive atmosphere in the team’s strength program.
Muschamp expressed strong opinions about the story when asked Saturday after the Gamecocks completed a morning practice.
“There is no credibility in anonymous sources,” he said. “If that former staffer had any guts, why didn’t he put his name on that? I think that’s gutless. In any football team, especially right here in August, you can find a disgruntled player that’s probably not playing. I think it’s a lack of journalistic integrity to print things with anonymous sources. I know DJ Durkin personally. I know what kind of man he is. I know what kind of person he is. I don’t think it’s right. Next question.”
Durkin was placed “on leave effective immediately while a thorough examination of our coaching practices is conducted,” Maryland announced late Saturday afternoon.
Muschamp spoke with Durkin about the ESPN report on Saturday morning, but he did not disclose what was said in the discussion.
“He worked for me for four years at the University of Florida. He is an outstanding football coach, but he’s also an outstanding husband and father and he treats people with respect,” Muschamp said.
Maryland strength coach Rick Court was singled out in the ESPN report and Maryland released a statement on Friday afternoon saying it “has placed members of our athletics staff on administrative leave pending the outcome of the external review.” Players were humiliated and belittled verbally in the Terrapins strength program, according to the report.
“You need to criticize the performance, not the performer,” Muschamp said Saturday. “That’s something we talk about as a staff a lot. There is a certain way you can talk to a young man about how he’s playing and what he needs to do to improve.”