Holy Cross' Mark Duffner will almost certainly be named the head football coach at the University of Maryland today, according to Holy Cross athletic director Ron Perry.
Duffner, 38, was expected to fly in from Worcester, Mass., yesterday to meet with Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger, Perry said. An official announcement is expected today. Details of Duffner's contract were not available.
"All indications are that he will accept the job," said Perry. "I'm 99 and 44/100ths percent sure he is going to be named coach."
Perry said Duffner was offered the job Saturday. Geiger did not return phone calls yesterday, and Duffner was unavailable for comment.
The selection of Duffner ends a 23-day search by Geiger and a 10-member search committee to find a replacement for Joe Krivak, who resigned Dec. 7 after a 2-9 season, Maryland's worst since 1971.
Duffner had been considered one of the top candidates, along with Clemson defensive coordinator Ron Dickerson and head coaches Jimmye Laycock of William & Mary and Dennis Green of Stanford.
Duffner was named the NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year this season after leading Holy Cross to an 11-0 record. His six-year record of 60-5-1 at Holy Cross gives him the highest winning percentage (.916) among active Division I coaches.
Duffner and Maryland appear to be a perfect fit. He is young, enthusiastic, intense, a native of Annandale, Va., and accustomed to recruiting athletes able to meet stringent academic standards. Ninety-one of 95 seniors have graduated since he became head coach at Holy Cross. He also is a defensive specialist, with his team being ranked nationally in the top 30 five times.
Duffner served as a defensive coordinator at Holy Cross for five years. He became the head coach after Rick Carter committed suicide, Feb. 2, 1986.
Under Duffner, Holy Cross won the Patriot League championship in five of the last six years. Because of a league rule barring postseason appearances, his teams never have appeared in the Division I-AA playoffs.
Duffner may bring Syracuse defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle in as Maryland's defensive coordinator. Duffner said he recently turned down the Tulane job in part because Coyle, his former offensive coordinator, declined to move to New Orleans.
"I heard from some of his former players that they really liked him," said former Maryland linebacker Scott Whittier, now a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech. "One of Duffner's main goals was to be the coach at the University of Maryland, and that's the type of guy we need."
Duffner was a three-year letter winner at defensive tackle for William & Mary and later served as a graduate assistant at William & Mary (spring 1975) and Ohio State (1975-76) before taking over as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati (1977-80). He was the defensive and recruiting coordinator at Holy Cross from 1981 until he replaced Carter.
Duffner ran a multiple I/single-back offense and a 5-2 defense at Holy Cross.
Duffner and Green were considered to be Geiger's top choices, even though Green was a long shot because of the reported $275,000-a-year salary he made at Stanford.
Cardinal athletic director Ted Leland said Friday he expected Geiger to speak with Green this past weekend, but he did not think Green would be interested in the job. Green has not returned repeated phone calls to his home.
Maryland seemed to be hindered by its estimated $5 million deficit in the athletic department during most of the search.
Big name candidates such as East Carolina's Bill Lewis and Kansas State's Bill Snyder were contacted by the search committee, but were not really serious candidates after it was reported that both had buyout clauses in their contracts.