The joint news conferences before bowl games sometimes can feel a little insincere. Two coaches sit feet from each other, straining to shower adulation in the other's direction.
But if the Quick Lane Bowl session felt a little contrived, the emotions Boston College’s Steve Addazio and Maryland’s D.J. Durkin shared for each other were genuine. Durkin might not be in a position to counter Addazio in a bowl game if the fourth-year Eagles coach didn’t extend an invite to Durkin at Florida years earlier.
“This isn’t like, ‘Oh, we’re playing Maryland and now each coach is going to say good things about the other guy.’ I’m telling you, I genuinely love D.J., and I genuinely think he’s one of the finest coaches out there,” Addazio said earlier this month.
“Obviously, sitting here now it seems like, ‘OK, we’re playing each other so you’re going to build up the other coach or team or whatever,’ but I couldn’t agree with Steve more,” Durkin added at the joint news conference.
Addazio was thrust into the head coaching role at Florida at the end of the 2009 season when Urban Meyer decided to take a leave of absence. Weeks earlier, Charlie Strong accepted the job at Louisville, which left a hole in the Gators’ staff. Meyer wouldn’t return until March, so much of the responsibilities of landing a new assistant were with Addazio.
He turned his attention to Durkin, who previously worked with Meyer and former Gators assistant Greg Mattison. Addazio said he “desperately” wanted to bring in Durkin from Stanford.
“D.J. was one of my favorite guys ever to work with. He’s intense. He’s a heck of a football coach. I think the world of him,” Addazio said. “I always said to myself this is a guy that’s going to be destined to be a great head football coach.”
The two spent only one season together in Gainesville as Addazio left after 2010 to become Temple’s coach. It was enough for Addazio to pick up Durkin’s special teams structures, however, and Addazio said he manages his specialty units in the same manner as Durkin.
Likewise, Durkin said much of what he has done in his first year at Maryland is similar to what Addazio is doing at Boston College. Both teams are 6-6 this season.
“A lot of our program, what we do and what is based on is right in line with Steve and, to be honest with you, things I learned from Steve,” Durkin said. “Steve’s a guy I look up to in the profession. It’s probably true in life too.
“There’s certain people that you know don’t give you BS and he’s one of them, and there’s a few of those people in the world. It’s hard to find those, have conversations and be around someone that’s not giving you BS and I can say with 100 percent certainty, Steve is one of those people.”
As Durkin works to push Maryland into being a contender in the Big Ten East division, he struggled against mentors Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. In losses to Michigan and Ohio State, Maryland was outscored 121-6. One of the hard parts of the coaching profession, Durkin said, is playing against friends.
“The good thing is that the players play the game,” he said, “and we’re going to prepare our team like crazy, like I know [Addazio] will, and have our guys go out there and they’ll compete for it.”