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NCAA Coaching Transfer Portal? Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator D.J. Durkin Will Be Aggies’ DC

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is trying his hand at the NCAA transfer portal … for coaches.

Fisher has hired Ole Miss defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin to be the Aggies’ defensive coordinator, and Durkin is no disgruntled backup looking for greener pastures — unless you mean money.

Durkin’s salary at Ole Miss in the 2021 season was $700,000. He is expected to make significantly more than that with the Aggies, who lost defensive coordinator Mike Elko after the 2021 season to the head coaching job at Duke.

Fisher’s hiring of Durkin has been in the works for more than two weeks.

“He has done a tremendous job being multiple in his looks that cause problems for opposing offenses,” Fisher said Friday. “In addition to being an excellent recruiter, D.J. has done a great job of developing his players and has experience in the SEC.”

Durkin, 44, dramatically turned around the Ole Miss defense in 2021. In his first season in that post in 2020, the Rebels finished No. 126 out of 127 FBS schools in yards allowed at 519 a game, No. 125 in passing yards with 312 a game and No. 117 in points allowed with 38.3.

Last season, the Rebels finished No. 97 in total defense (420 yards allowed a game), No. 68 against the pass (230 yards a game) and No. 51 in points allowed (24.7) as Ole Miss went 10-3 for its first 10-win regular season in history and reached the Sugar Bowl.

“We will play with great effort that the 12th Man will be proud of,” Durkin said.

Durkin will have a strong act to follow in Elko, whose A&M defense finished No. 3 in the nation in 2021 in points allowed with 15.9 and was No. 14 in total defense (327 yards a game) and No. 17 in pass defense (192.7 yards a game).

Durkin was also defensive coordinator at Florida in 2013 and ’14 and was Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2015.

In 2013, Durkin’s Florida defense was No. 7 in the nation against the pass (171 yards a game). In 2014, the Gators were No. 15 in total defense (329 yards a game). He was also the recruiter of the year by Rivals.com in 2012 while a linebackers coach at Florida.

Durkin, a native of Youngstown, Ohio who played defensive end at Bowling Green from 1997-2000, was Maryland’s head coach in 2016 and ’17. He was fired during the 2018 season while on administrative leave for his role in the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who collapsed during a team conditioning test in May of 2018 and died less than two weeks later.

An investigation found that more than an hour passed between McNair, 19, showing symptoms of heat stroke and a call to 911 by the football staff. The training staff also did not take McNair’s temperature or immerse him in cold water. Another investigation concluded that Maryland’s program under Durkin “fostered a culture where problems festered because too many players feared speaking out.”

Durkin, who was 10-15 in 2016 and ’17 at Maryland, was a consultant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2019 before Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin hired him before the 2020 season.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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