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Alabama: DJ Durkin observing Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide coaching staff

Maryland fired Durkin on Oct. 31 after investigations into the death of OL Jordan McNair and the football program.

Former Maryland head coach DJ Durkin has been at Alabama’s football complex this week watching tape with staffers, ESPN first reported.

Durkin has met with staff members but has not been hired by Alabama, as Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban made clear in a statement Friday.

“DJ Durkin is spending a few days with our staff in Tuscaloosa from a professional development standpoint,” Saban said, per The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach. “He has not been hired in any capacity by The University of Alabama. He is simply observing our operation as many other coaches have done through the years.”

Former head coaches Butch Jones, Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin have also spent time with Alabama’s staff before being hired in some capacity by the program. Hugh Freeze, Chip Kelly and Rich Rodriguez have also spent time with Crimson Tide’s coaches.

It was first reported that Durkin was helping the Crimson Tide prepare to face Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, but Saban said he is simply observing the program.

Durkin has also met with multiple NFL teams to watch tapes, reports ESPN.

Durkin’s re-emergence comes after Maryland fired him on Oct. 31, following investigations into the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the football program’s culture. Durkin was fired one day after the university accepted the board of regents’ recommendation to reinstate him.

Questions over the handling of the Terrapins program were first raised after McNair collapsed from a heat stroke at a team workout in May. McNair, 19, died two weeks later on June 13.

Related: A Timeline of Jordan McNair’s Death, DJ Durkin’s Firing and Its Aftermath

On Aug. 10, ESPN released an explosive in-depth report detailing a “toxic” culture within the Terrapins football program. The report outlined a culture of fear and intimidation fostered under Durkin. The university placed Durkin on administrative leave the following day.

Maryland president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans announced on Aug. 14 that they had apologized to McNair’s parents and that “the university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29.” Loh said the training staff “misdiagnosed” McNair’s situation, and Evans revealed that McNair did not have his temperature taken, nor was he given cold water immersion to lower his body temperature.

The university’s board of regents assumed control of the investigation, which concluded in October. The board found several failures within the Terrapins program but determined it was not a “toxic culture.”

In two seasons at Maryland, Durkin went 10–15, reaching the Quick Lane Bowl in 2016. Prior to taking the Maryland job, Durkin, 40, was the defensive coordinator at Michigan.

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