Ole Miss AD Carter Defends Hiring Controversial Assistant D.J. Durkin
Ole Miss AD Keith Carter said new football assistant coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired at Maryland after one of his players died, received a "thorough" background check before being hired for new coach Lane Kiffin, according to Parrish Alford the Northeast Mississippi DAILY JOURNAL. Durkin was "placed on administrative leave" at Maryland in August '18 amid an investigation after OL Jordan McNair was "hospitalized and later died following a spring workout." According to reports, McNair had "shown signs of heatstroke." Carter on Thursday in a statement said, "We received consistently strong feedback about Coach Durkin's strong character and work ethic and his positive impact on the communities and institutions where he was previously employed" (Northeast Mississippi DAILY JOURNAL, 1/2). In Mississippi, Nathanael Gabler writes Ole Miss is "certainly taking a risk" hiring Durkin, yet they "believe it to be a positive one." Regardless, it is "another big, risky decision" for Carter (OXFORD EAGLE, 1/3). In DC, Emily Giambalvo writes Durkin's job at Ole Miss is his "first full-time position since his firing." He "resurfaced" last summer as a Falcons guest coach during training camp (WASHINGTON POST, 1/3).
TIME WILL TELL: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes Carter's statement "attempting to diffuse criticism of Ole Miss adding Durkin ... is loaded with so many laudatory cliches that by the end of it you might halfway believe Durkin would be more suited to sainthood than coaching football." With Ole Miss fans "so energized" about Kiffin, they are "more than willing to provide cover for a football coach who can't help himself from reaching into the fire and a young administrator who is too much of a novice to pull his hand away." Instead, the decision to hire Durkin is just a "game about how much political capital a coach and an athletic director have to get away with it." Since Kiffin "has that kind of stroke right now," it would be "difficult for Carter to say no." As long as the positive tweets "keep flowing," Kiffin will basically "be able to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants." Wolken: "Carter created that monster, and now he has to feed it" (USA TODAY, 1/3).