Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has agreed in principle to be Maryland’s next head football coach, the Washington Post and several other media sources reported late Tuesday.
Locksley, who coached New Mexico to a 2-26 record in a tumultuous two years-plus (2009-11) after being hired by then-athletic director Paul Krebs, earlier on Tuesday was named the winner of the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
Locksley is a Washington native who twice has worked as an assistant on the Terrapins’ staff. He coached running backs from 1997 to 2002, and he returned as the offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2015. He served as interim head coach for the final six games of the 2015 season after Maryland fired Randy Edsall. When the school passed over Locksley for the permanent job in favor of DJ Durkin, Locksley headed to Alabama to be an offensive analyst.
“Two years ago, I was in the Nick Saban witness protection program,” Locksley said in his speech at the Broyles Award ceremony. “I was out of a job. I just left the University of Maryland as the offensive coordinator, was kind of in between what I wanted to do. … What an honor and how great it’s been for me and my career to be able to rehabilitate it (at Alabama).”
Locksley, 48, has helped lead Alabama’s offense to historic heights this season, his first calling plays for the Crimson Tide. Alabama (13-0) beat Georgia to win the SEC championship on Saturday and will return to the College Football Playoff as the top seed and defending national champion.
Alabama’s offense averages 47.9 points per game (second nationally), 527.6 yards per game (seventh) and 7.92 yards per play (second). Alabama’s quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
“From day one (of his tenure) I feel like the mentality of our offense changed,” said Tide running back Damien Harris on Tuesday’s “The Paul Finebaum” show that airs on the SEC Network. “He said he didn’t want us to be little brother to our defense anymore.”
Brett McMurphy of Stadium reported that Locksley will stay on as the offensive coordinator throgugh Alabama’s playoff run.
Locksley is beloved in the D.C. football community and is known as a top recruiter of the area.
Terms of Locksley’s contract with Maryland were not immediately available.
He inherits a Maryland program that has been overwhelmed with controversy and turmoil since the June death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. McNair’s death led to two independent investigations, one that looked into the workout during which McNair suffered exertional heatstroke and another that examined the program’s culture. Since the summer, media reports outlined an abusive culture within the program and the external investigation found that problems festered because players feared speaking out.
The investigation into the program found organizational dysfunction within the athletic department that could have contributed to the football program’s issues.
Locksley’s time at UNM was disastrous.
Before he coached a game at New Mexico, an administrative assistant filed an age- and sex-discrimination complaint against Locksley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A few months later, in September 2009, during a coaches meeting after New Mexico’s loss to Air Force, Locksley was accused of punching assistant coach J.B. Gerald in the face. Gerald filed a lawsuit that said New Mexico’s football program had a hostile work environment and eventually settled for $25,000.
Locksley had a run-in with Daily Lobo reporter Ryan Tomari, who wrote a column critical of the program. Locksley confronted the student in an Albuquerque bar and alledgedly yelled profanities.
At the end of Locksley’s stint at New Mexico, a 19-year-old friend of Locksley’s son was charged with suspicion of driving while intoxicated in a car that was registered to Locksley’s son and wife. Hours later, the Lobos suffered an ugly loss to lower-division Sam Houston State and fell to 0-4. Locksley was fired the next morning after compiling a 2-26 record.
“I was on the fast track,” Locksley told The Washington Post in 2015, “and the next thing I know, it got derailed.”‘
But it got back on track, and the Post reported that Maryland athletic director Damon Evans faced pressure to hire Locksley this time, in large part because of how effective Alabama’s attack has been.
Other finalists for the head coaching job included Matt Canada, the interim coach who led Maryland through the 2018 season, and Pep Hamilton, Michigan’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.
The Journal contributed to this report.