We'll be examining the list of candidates for our head coaching vacancy** in the coming days, and I'll start by introducing one of the targets who has been mentioned quite a bit.
D.J. Durkin has been a hot commodity in the coaching circles of late, probably due to his early season defensive turnaround at Michigan. The 37 year old defensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines, he hails from some pretty tradition-rich stomping grounds. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, he played LB and DB at Bowling Green until his graduation in 2000, immediately becoming a grad assistant coach for the Falcons under Urban Meyer.
Once the Urbs moved on to Salt Lake City for the Utes, Durkin landed a job under Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame. Finishing his 4 years of G.A. work (4 stinkin' years?), he landed a defensive position coaching gig back at his alma mater in 2006. Connections being what they are, he tagged along with Jim Harbaugh to Stanford and continued to coach DEs, LBs and even special teams.
Three years later, his ties to Urban proved useful as he was named a defensive positional coach at Florida, only to watch Urban
fake a heart issue experience health problems. But his stock was valued highly and he was able to stay on during Will Muschamp's first year. He eventually took over the Defensive Coordinator position upon the vacancy left by one Dan Quinn. Yep, that Dan Quinn. Never one to say no, he jumped at the chance and was named the DC for newly hired Jim Harbaugh this past January.
Michigan is ranked #4 in defensive yards per game, behind only Boston College, Wisconsin, and Alabama. They rank #19 against the rush (guess Ezekiel didn't help them much yesterday) but #3 against the pass. You know, #3. Behind #1 University of Georgia.
Durkin has deep ties across the country, and has been noted for his successful recruiting. Though most of his experience has been at the positional level or Coordinator level, he can claim a head coaching win as he led the Gators to a victory vs. THE Eastern University of Mining and Fracking of North Carolina Pirates from Greenville, NC this past January. So he's got that going for him.
Some might say we need a better offensive mind to take the reins of the Bulldogs, but if the apparent housecleaning comes to pass, we will need a good one to continue the success that Jeremy Pruitt has established the last two years. There are thoughts that Durkin might be headed to Maryland to take the HC position there, and I don't know of any strong ties to UGA other than passing in the night with current/interim/temporary UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity.
** Just so we're clear, I am NOT happy about having to type those words.