Duffner forces out defensive coordinator, 2 others

January 03, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

Three University of Maryland assistant football coaches have been forced to resign, including defensive coordinator Larry Slade, whose unit allowed an all-time NCAA worst record of 553 yards per game.

Slade, 42, will be replaced by Syracuse University's Kevin Coyle, 37, a close friend and former defensive coordinator under Maryland coach Mark Duffner when Duffner was at Holy Cross.

Duffner was vague about the dismissals that were announced after a newspaper inquiry. School officials said they had planned to make the announcement this morning.

Outside receivers coach John Shannon and John Baxter, the running backs and special teams coordinator, also resigned. Other Terps assistants will assume their duties as Duffner reshuffles his staff.

"It's a difficult time when a coach has to make these decisions, but they had to be made to make our team and program better," said Duffner, who brought in all new assistants when he was hired two seasons ago. "It was a football decision -- differences in philosophies -- and it was time to move in another direction."

During the past two seasons, Maryland had one of the worst defenses in the country. In 1992, Maryland allowed 33.2 points, 204.4 rushing and 269.8 passing yards as the Terps finished 3-8.

This past season, Maryland allowed 43.6 points, 317.3 rushing and 235.6 passing yards per game. Slade and Duffner spent most of the year defending the Terps' pressure or "46 defense" by citing the number of freshmen (eight) who were starting.

Slade took a lot of the criticism, but Duffner also was under pressure because he came to Maryland with a reputation of being a defensive whiz, and spent most of the week working with the defense.

Duffner declined to comment about what different philosophies Coyle would bring.

HTC But it is known that Coyle was Duffner's first choice when Duffner became Maryland's coach, but for some reason, he wasn't hired.

"I'll just say I coached with Kevin for 11 years at Cincinnati and Holy Cross," said Duffner. "I don't want to say any more about this, or how it will affect our recruiting or anything else. It was a difficult decision."

Slade did not return phone calls yesterday. He was one of only 15 African-Americans in Division I-A to hold a job as either a head coach, assistant coach or offensive or defensive coordinator.

"A coach has to have a good feeling about his staff, and Mark saw a good chance to reorganize and he did," said Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger. "Mark thought Larry was a good football coach, a good person and I know there weren't any personality clashes.

"In no way was Larry being made a scapegoat," said Geiger. "It was a decision Mark thought he had to make, and I support him."

Coyle, 37, graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1978. He was an outside linebackers coach at Holy Cross from 1982 through 1985 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1986.

He left Holy Cross for Syracuse in 1990. In his first two seasons, the Orangemen led the Big East in rushing defense. They were ranked 11th nationally in 1991, and fifth in 1992.

"We're looking for improvement, to make big plays and have people in position to make big plays," said Duffner.

Maryland's staff will be missing four coaches from the previous season. Former quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen left in December to become offensive coordinator at Clemson under his close friend Tommy West, the Tigers' new coach.

Terps inside receivers coach Rob Spence will become the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator Jim Miceli also will be the receivers coach. Strength coach Dave Ungerer will succeed Baxter as the running backs and special teams coach.

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