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Charlie Strong mentioned as Maryland candidate. But is he really?

The Terrapins formally parted ways with Coach DJ Durkin amid school and community pressure
Charlie Strong has won 17 of his 20 games as USF football coach. (Times file photo)
Charlie Strong has won 17 of his 20 games as USF football coach. (Times file photo)
Published Nov. 1, 2018
Updated Nov. 1, 2018

With Maryland's decision Wednesday to part ways with Coach DJ Durkin only one day after his reinstatement, college football's crazy season commenced prematurely.

And wouldn't you know it, Charlie Strong's name immediately was tossed in as a candidate for the Terrapins vacancy.

Strong, who has guided the Bulls to a 17-3 mark in slightly less than two seasons, is the No. 1 candidate on the list floated out Wednesday by Yahoo Sports national college football reporter Pete Thamel.

Just how much traction Strong's name gains for this vacancy is uncertain. His name couldn't be found on any other potential-candidates list released Wednesday. Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman didn't mention Strong's name when listing posssible Durkin replacements, nor did this list from Rivals.

"(Strong) is a proven winner, a familiar brand and could rally the high school coaches there," Thamel wrote. "Would need a strong offensive coordinator and some plugged in local recruiters. He has the right demeanor and experience to handle a delicate situation. He's quietly gone 17-3 in two seasons at USF."

Subtract his forgettable three-year stint at Texas, and Strong is 54-18 (.750) in five-plus seasons as a head coach, with three seasons of double-digit wins. Those two national title rings he earned while co-defensive coordinator at Florida also still glow.

But he's a defensive coach at a time when offensive virtuosos remain en vogue, and as Thamel subtly indicated, he doesn't appear to have any recruiting ties to the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area. Moreover, if the Bulls season goes south from here, his stock could diminish.

The dismissal of Durkin, 40, comes five months after 19-year-old Terrapins OL Jordan McNair collapsed of a heatstroke. McNair died two weeks later.

An ensuing ESPN report included allegations of a "toxic" culture in the Terrapins program under Durkin and his staff. Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave in early August and hadn't coached a game this season.

A lengthy report by a commission investigating the program found "a culture where problems festered" but did not deem the environment "toxic."  The University of Maryland System's Board of Regents recommended Durkin's reinstatement Tuesday, but President Wallace Loh decided to fire Durkin a day later amid huge public backlash.