For Mary­land’s in­terim coach, the fu­ture is 1 day at a time

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS -

— Mary­land in­terim coach Matt Canada faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture, de­spite keep­ing the foot­ball team to­gether and forg­ing a win­ning record amid the chaos sur­round­ing the pro­gram.

When this sea­son ends, Mar yland will be look­ing for a head coach to re­place DJ Durkin, who was fired last week. Canada may be asked to ap­ply, given that he’s jug­gled the job of in­terim coach, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and quar­ter­backs coach well enough to keep the Ter­rap­ins (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) in the hunt for a bowl bid en­ter­ing Satur­day’s game at In­di­ana (4-5, 1-5).

Or, Canada could end up un­em­ployed if the school hires a coach who wants some­one else to run the of­fense.

If any of this has been weigh­ing on Canada’s mind, he’s not telling. Asked Tues­day if he’s con­sid­ered what the fu­ture might bring, Canada com­pletely dodged the is­sue.

“Our fo­cus is on to­day, on each other, on be­ing able to do the best we can against In­di­ana,” he said. “It’s prob­a­bly not the an­swer you’re look­ing for, but it’s a true an­swer.”

The foot­ball pro­gram has en­dured a myr­iad of de­flat­ing events since late May, when of­fen­sive line­man Jor­dan Mc­Nair col­lapsed on the field and sub­se­quently died of heat­stroke. There have been two in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, one into Mc­Nair’s death and the other into the cul­ture of the pro­gram .

Durkin was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave in mid-Au­gust. Canada took over, handed back the reins last Tues­day when Durkin was re­in­stated and re­gained con­trol when Durkin was fired the fol­low­ing day .

All this pre­ceded a rather pre­dictable 24-3 loss to Michi­gan State.

“There were some dif­fer­ent events — we’re go­ing to be hon­est about that — but we went through them, our kids pro­cessed


them,” Canada said. “We just didn’t play well enough to win the game Satur­day.”

Canada has never been a head coach. Although he’s ful­fill­ing that job de­scrip­tion this sea­son, the 46-year-old con­sid­ers him­self to the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor with a few other obli­ga­tions. The big­gest change is that he no longer views the game up in the coach’s booth.

“I’ve been pre­sented with a few things that I wasn’t ex­pect­ing. Call­ing from the field has been a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge,” he said. “I try to find the good in ev­ery­thing, and there’s a lot of good. We’ve all main­tained our jobs, we’ve all main­tained our ti­tles, we’ve all done what we had to do and we’ve kept it go­ing.”

Through­out the sea­son, Canada has stead­fastly stuck to a day-at-a-time phi­los­o­phy, ab­sorbed the blame for the losses and foisted credit upon oth­ers for the vic­to­ries. Not sur­pris­ingly, he down­played his role in the Terps’ 5-4 record.

“The story is these kids,” Canada said. “The story is how awe­some they are and how spe­cial they are, how much they’re stick­ing to­gether.”

Fac­ing In­di­ana this week will bring Canada back to his coach­ing roots. He started as a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant for the Hoosiers un­der the late Bill Mal­lory in 1994.

“I wasn’t a very good player,” Canada said. “I met with coach Mal­lory, and it changed my life. I al­ways wanted to be a coach. There was no doubt about that. I wasn’t sure how it was go­ing to work out.”

Now, 24 years later, Canada is the act­ing head of the Mary­land foot­ball team. Upon ac­cept­ing the job as in­terim coach, he called Ok­la­homa coach Lin­coln Ri­ley to ask how shift be­tween call­ing the plays and di­rect­ing the team.

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