Matt Canada Addresses Media for First Time as Interim Head Coach

By: Eddie Hobbs

Since Matt Canada was hired back in January as the offensive coordinator for the Maryland football program, a lot of things have changed in College Park. The two ESPN reports that came out last week broke down the death of Jordan McNair and the ‘toxic culture’ within the Terps’ program.

This resulted in head coach DJ Durkin being put on administrative leave, and the resignation of head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court — Court and the university reached a financial settlement, according to 247Sports.  

Canada was made available to the media on Wednesday and he discussed his role as the interim head coach and what his responsibilities are he now with Durkin on administrative leave.

“I’m the offensive coordinator. I’m still an assistant coach. We’re working through this process,” Canada said. “There’s a review and all those things going on, so it’s a different situation. It’s certainly a challenging situation. And the focus of that is we’re all still grieving for Jordan [McNair], and that’s what we’re focusing on as an entire program.”

Maryland football has implemented “cooling tents” at the practice fields. The tents include: fans, ice, water/Gatorade and snacks. Canada mentioned how the team’s practices normally last about two hours and the players get two breaks in the cooling tent per practice.

“Our practices have been extremely crisp,” Canada said. “The focus of our players’ health and safety is No. 1 and out players are feeling that and understanding that.”

In one of the ESPN reports, Heather Dinich and others mentioned how current Maryland players and people close to the program felt that the coaching environment was based on fear and intimidation, and coaches have endorsed unhealthy eating habits.

Canada mentioned that the staff has done a “tremendous” job of coming together and making everything about their players.

“Our culture right now is great. Our culture right now is awesome,” Canada said. “Our kids are excited to practice, excited to play. They are loving each other. At times we are grieving for Jordan, and we are. But our culture right now is really, really good. And our staff is continuing to make it better.”

It’s a statement that athletic director Damon Evans echoed on Tuesday, when he was asked why the players were not interviewed earlier about the practice that led to McNair’s hospitalization.

“This was a time of grieving,” Evans said. “We were focussed on making sure that they were okay, making sure that we had people around them to support them, that was our first priority as it relates to what they were going through – a very, very difficult time.”

Evans has set up a meeting with the student-athlete’s parents this Saturday to make sure that there is an open dialogue. Parents will be able to attend a scrimmage and will talk with the staff about their concerns.

“I’ve talked to a couple parents and I’ve been very open and honest,” Canada said. “It’s the only way to be.”

Here is the full clip of Matt Canada talking to reporters: