In his 16-year career as a Football Bowl Subdivision head coach, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has had many assistant coaches go on to head coaching careers of their own.
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Oregon State’s Gary Andersen, Boston College’s Steve Addazio, South Florida’s Charlie Strong, Marshall’s Doc Holliday, Texas State’s Everett Withers, Texas' Tom Herman, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Rutgers’ Chris Ash are all current Football Bowl Subdivision coaches who once worked as assistants under Meyer at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and/or Ohio State.
Even with all of those accomplished proteges, Meyer says his other former assistant coach who is currently an FBS head coach – Maryland's D.J. Durkin, who worked for Meyer at both Bowling Green and Florida – is one of the best assistant coaches he’s ever had.
"Of all the guys I've had, he's one of the top two or three that I've ever had on our staff," Meyer said. "He's one of my favorite coaches we've ever had, and one of the best coaches."
Durkin, who played defensive end and outside linebacker for Bowling Green from 1997-2000, began his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 2001 and 2002, each of Meyer’s two years coaching the Falcons. Meyer said he was ready to make Durkin a full-time coach "when he was 21 years old," but Meyer left Bowling Green for Utah after the 2002 season.
Durkin did not follow Meyer to Utah, instead becoming a graduate assistant at Notre Dame before returning to Bowling Green, but he would work with Meyer again in 2010, when Meyer hired Durkin away from Stanford to be his special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida.
“Of all the guys I've had, he's one of the top two or three that I've ever had on our staff.”– Urban Meyer on D.J. Durkin
Durkin remained on staff at Florida even after Meyer’s departure, becoming the Gators’ defensive coordinator under Will Muschamp in 2013 and 2014. He then spent one season as the defensive coordinator at what is now Meyer’s biggest rival, Michigan, before becoming the head coach at Maryland before the 2016 season.
The Terrapins went just 6-7 in Durkin’s first season at the helm, suffering a 62-3 loss to Ohio State at home. That said, the Terrapins are off to a 3-1 start this season, including a road win against Herman’s Longhorns in their season opener and a road win against Minnesota in their Big Ten opener last week.
3-1 (1-0 B1G)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
4 P.M. – SATURDAY, OCT. 7
FOX SPORTS GO
In studying Maryland to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Terrapins at Ohio Stadium, Meyer said he could see Durkin’s coaching influence making a difference on his team in his second year on the job.
"It's a typical, extremely well-coached team, where the guys go as hard as they possibly can," Meyer said of Maryland.
Ohio State opened as a 31-point favorite to beat Maryland, but Meyer has bristled at the notion that Saturday’s game should be an easy win for the Buckeyes.
"Playing a very good Maryland team that beat Texas. And came back with their third-string quarterback and really looked much improved against Minnesota," Meyer said Monday. "A very good team."
Meyer said he has also seen Durkin already make an impact on Maryland’s recruiting, which means the Terrapins could continue to become a tougher opponent for the Buckeyes – who have four Maryland natives on their roster (Dwayne Haskins, Keandre Jones, Chase Young and Isaiah Prince) – both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
"They're a formidable challenge," Meyer said. "We've gotten some very good players out of there, but I know the way he recruits. And there's really good players in that area."
This will be the second consecutive week that Meyer goes up against one of his former assistants after facing off with Ash at Rutgers last week. Including last week’s 56-0 win in Piscataway, Meyer has a 9-1 record all-time against his former assistants, with his only loss coming against Mullen and Mississippi State when he was at Florida in 2010.