Durkins hope lat­est move is the long­est

With busy ca­reer, coach’s fam­ily hasn’t spent more than five years in one place

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Don Markus don.markus@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/sport­sprof56 don.markus@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/sport­sprof56

COL­LEGE PARK — Sarah Brum­back never moved grow­ing up as a child in Cincin­nati, leav­ing for the first time when she went off to col­lege at Bowl­ing Green.

It was there she met and started dat­ing her fu­ture hus­band, a foot­ball player named DJ Durkin. As his play­ing ca­reer was about to end, he men­tioned that he planned on be­com­ing a col­lege coach.

“We were still dat­ing when I was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant coach. She knew what she was get­ting into, and we had a lot of those con­ver­sa­tions ahead of time,” Durkin said Tues­day. “Some­times it’s hard if you’ve al­ready been a coach for eight, 10 years and you meet some­one. It is a dif­fer­ent lifestyle. It takes a spe­cial per­son, a spe­cial woman to do it.”

The Durkins have made six moves since they were mar­ried in 2002 and spent no more than five years in the same place. That was at Florida, where their chil­dren, 6-year-old Abi­gail and 3-year-old Luke, were born.

The Durkins hope their lat­est move, to Mary­land 11 months ago, lasts a lot longer.

“We came here with a pur­pose, to build this thing right with the in­tent of be­ing here,” said DJ Durkin, who signed a five-year con­tract worth more than $2.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

Said Sarah Durkin, “I guess in this busi­ness, you never know how long you’re go­ing to be some­where, so my goal is to make it a home as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

DJ Durkin, 38, can point to some of the moves he made that had noth­ing to do with the job he had done.

In 2010, he joined Ur­ban Meyer at Florida as lineback­ers and spe­cial teams coach after three years coach­ing de­fen­sive ends and spe­cial teams un­der Jim Har­baugh at Stan­ford.

Durkin’s move came amid spec­u­la­tion that Har­baugh was go­ing to leave for the NFL after in­ter­view­ing with the New York Jets. Har­baugh left to be­come coach of the DJ Durkin took the job as the Terps foot­ball coach nearly 11 months ago. “In this pro­fes­sion, you’re never in charge of your own des­tiny, but as a head coach you have more con­trol,” he said. San Fran­cisco 49ers in 2011.

In 2015, Durkin left Florida to re­join Har­baugh at Michi­gan as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor after fin­ish­ing his time with the Ga­tors.

Durkin will face Har­baugh for the first time as a head coach when the Terps play the No. 3 Wolver­ines on Satur­day in Ann Ar­bor, then go up against Meyer, now at Ohio State, the fol­low­ing week at Mary­land Sta­dium.

“In this pro­fes­sion, you’re never in charge of your own des­tiny, but as a head coach you have more con­trol,” Durkin said. “As an as­sis­tant, you’re at the mercy or hands of some­one else — good or bad.”

This rep­re­sents one of the more in­ter­est­ing stretches in Durkin’s first sea­son as a head coach. For Sarah Durkin, to­day and Satur­day will be a time to catch up with old friends in Ann Ar­bor.

“I have a lot of friends on that staff. It’s never easy to play your friends,” Sarah Durkin said. “But for me, friend­ship trumps foot­ball. I will prob­a­bly see those women and it’s not go­ing to be weird — they’re my friends.”

Yet, as she sheep­ishly ac­knowl­edged, “I cer­tainly want to get a win.”

De­spite a dif­fer­ence in age, the Durkins were ex­tremely close with 66-year-old Michi­gan de­fen­sive line coach Greg Mat­ti­son and his wife, Ann.

They first met when DJ Durkin was a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant at Notre Dame in 2003 and 2004, and Mat­ti­son — who later be­came a Ravens as­sis­tant un­der John Har­baugh — was on the staff of Ty Willing­ham.

“Just the way they have for so many years, they’ve been won­der­ful par­ents and won­der­ful hus­band and wife to one an­other,” Sarah Durkin said. “They’ve moved a lot. They’ve been very in­stru­men­tal in our lives and as a cou­ple, just sort of how it should be done.”

Since be­ing hired as Mary­land’s coach last De­cem­ber, DJ Durkin and his fam­ily have lived in their Kens­ing­ton home longer than in their house in Ann Ar­bor.

“Come De­cem­ber, we will have lived in Mary­land twice as long as we lived in Michi­gan,” Sarah Durkin said. “In re­gards to the move to Michi­gan, ob­vi­ously it’s nice you have a lit­tle more sta­bil­ity as a head coach. … I felt more set­tled here in our first two weeks than I ever did in Michi­gan.”

Sarah Durkin cred­its Moira An­der­son, the wife of Mary­land ath­letic di­rec­tor Kevin An­der­son, as well as Ann Tur­geon, the wife of men’s bas­ket­ball coach Mark Tur­geon, with help­ing make that tran­si­tion a smooth one.

It was Moira An­der­son who pulled Sarah Durkin away from the news con­fer­ence after her hus­band was in­tro­duced as Mary­land’s new coach to go to lunch at the Tur­geons’ house. It was the start of what has be­come a close friend­ship be­tween the two coaches and their fam­i­lies.

Though the Tur­geons are older, as are their chil­dren, the fam­i­lies have be­come close, with their houses only a cou­ple of streets apart.

“She’s be­come a re­ally good friend of mine. I adore her kids and her ex­tended fam­ily,” Ann Tur­geon said last week. “It’s been re­ally fun for us. … When you’re a [coach’s] fam­ily, you of­ten don’t have your fam­ily nearby, and your staff and their fam­i­lies and the Durkins be­come your fam­ily.”

Said DJ Durkin: “It’s been huge. More than any­one could ex­pect. They’ve been great to us. It’s been great for Sarah be­cause Ann’s an­other per­son that would un­der­stand. Even fam­ily — my par­ents, her par­ents — don’t un­der­stand what it’s like to do that. It’s dif­fer­ent.”

The morn­ing after Durkin suf­fered a se­cond straight loss, at home to Min­nesota, after a 4-0 start, Mark Tur­geon texted him kid­dingly, say­ing, “I told you it wasn’t go­ing to be this easy.”

Sarah Durkin said she hasn’t seen much change in her hus­band in the nearly 11 months since he took the job at Mary­land.

“DJ’s re­ally the same per­son. I’ve never seen a job change who he is,” Sarah Durkin said. “I think there’s more added pres­sure be­cause you’re in charge of so many peo­ple and their fam­i­lies, and there’s more a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“And as fam­i­lies tran­si­tioned here with us, we know the stress that puts on a wife and a mar­riage and the kids.”

What makes the tran­si­tion eas­ier is shar­ing this jour­ney with his wife, DJ Durkin said.

“The way you have to treat it, the way we treat it, this is our pro­fes­sion,” he said. “It’s our job. She’s very in­volved with our team, with our play­ers, with what we do. You spend so much time in foot­ball, if you don’t in­clude your kids, your wife, your fam­ily, then you’re miss­ing out on too much.” said he will buy a house in Ann Ar­bor and move his wife and younger daugh­ter there.

Poggi’s role with the Wolver­ines is a bit un­de­fined.

“I’m all over,” he said. “I’m ba­si­cally with ev­ery part of the team. I’m in­volved in most facets of what’s go­ing on, from re­cruit­ing to you name it — to help­ing get a chap­lain hired.”

Since most of his coach­ing du­ties are on the of­fen­sive side of the ball, Poggi has watched tape of what the 6-1, 225-pound Keihn has done in his first sea­son at Mary­land.

Keihn has spent the sea­son back­ing up at two line­backer spots.

“His en­ergy is in­cred­i­ble. His mo­tor is un­be­liev­able,” Poggi said of Keihn, who has made 22 tack­les on de­fense and con­trib­utes on spe­cial teams. “He’s blitz­ing. He’s chas­ing the plays from the back side. He makes a lot of plays.”

Keihn said he has en­joyed his first sea­son at Mary­land. His bi­o­log­i­cal mother still lives in Liberia, but his fa­ther, Bainda, who lives in Ed­mond­son Vil­lage with his wife and three other chil­dren, has been to a cou­ple of games. So have AmyPoggi and her younger daugh­ter.

“It’s been a lot more fun hav­ing fam­ily close by,” Keihn said.

MARK GAIL/FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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