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Is Nick Saban wrong for having D.J. Durkin consult at Alabama?

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s pump the brakes on this situation. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been getting hammered on social media and from different news outlets in the last few hours or so on his decision to have former Maryland coach, D.J. Durkin, in Tuscaloosa in a “consultant role.”

The 40-year-old was fired from the Terrapins back on Oct. 31, due to an investigation on his program being “toxic” and him reportedly creating a culture of “fear” and “intimidation.”

News on Durkin at the University of Alabama came from Matt Zenitz of

According to the story, Jordan McNair collapsed from heat stroke on May 29 of this year during team workouts. He died two weeks later on June 13. The 19-year-old offensive lineman was one of the leaders on the team, and though Durkin was not voluntarily involved in McNair’s tragic passing, various media personalities feel as if Saban made a hasty decision to have him consult. 

RELATED: Nick Saban named one of six finalists for George Munger Coach of the Year

In reflecting back to Zenitz’s piece, the University of Maryland Board of Regents held an investigation on the program and found nothing to deem as toxic. In fact, Durkin was even brought back 80 days later after initially being put on administrative leave on Aug. 11. 

While students and others could not deal with him, it is apparent that maybe Saban has need of him with the Crimson Tide. Durkin is not getting paid for providing his thoughts, and via the article, it is “uncertain” as to whether the 67-year-old will hire him on staff. 

For all the badgering the six-time national champion has taken, let’s all be reminded of Saban’s history in hiring coaches that have had issues in their past.

The likes of Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Michael Locksley and Butch Jones all brought baggage with them; however, Saban extended an opportunity to each one and all have now accepted a coaching job elsewhere. 

Also, keep in mind that Alabama allowed Chip Kelly (UCLA head coach) to come an consult in the spring of 2013 — prior to him taking a head coaching position for the Philadelphia Eagles. The lone reason why Kiffin was offered a job as an offensive coordinator after consulting was Doug Nussmeier bolted for Michigan to be a play caller.

Like his mentor, Bill Belichick, Saban is building an impressive coaching tree. 

To go beyond the coaches, he has even granted players with second chances.

People remember guys like Tony Brown and Kenyan Drake. Both individuals came in rough around the edges, but ole Saint Nick found a way to stick with them and get the most out of both. Current quarterback Mac Jones and former players Geno Matias-Smith and Dillon Lee both were all charged with driving under the influence. Instead of dismissing them from the team, like many hoped he would, Saban had an alternative solution that helped all three while keeping them in football. 

Even in the cases of Jonathan Taylor (domestic violence) and D.J. Pettway, he tried to help both young men get on the right path. Taylor, who was charged with third degree domestic violence at the University of Georgia, enrolled at Alabama in 2015 after being dropped from the Bulldogs. 

Saban stuck his neck out for him, got crucified by national media, and while Taylor would be targeted for another DV case, the woman in question recanted her statement. He ended up being let go by the Tide, but Pettway was able to return and finish his undergraduate degree. 

Following a brawl that he was linked to in 2012, Pettway was dumped after an impressive freshman season. He spent a year in junior college and then his name surfaced back on the market for the 2014 signing class. He was hesitant, but Saban gave Pettway another shot. 

The Florida native responded by not only getting his degree, but he also assisted Alabama to a national championship in 2015 and is now on Jeremy Pruitt’s coaching staff at Tennessee. 

Saban wants to continue to learn and he knows the only way to keep his empire going is constantly pulling knowledge from others. If he was not concerned with evolving and getting better, then he does not make the hires he has made in recent years. Maybe there is something Durkin is providing that he’s not getting from those in Tuscaloosa. Whatever the case is, the favorite statement from Tide fans is “trust coach” and “Saban’s the one being paid to make big decisions.”

With both of these being said, we shall see what happens with Durkin.

Before he was fired, he brought in 12 four-star recruits in two recruiting classes combined at Maryland for 2016 and 2017 – including a top-20 class (No. 18) class last year.  

For now, Durkin is not on staff at Alabama.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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