Texas A&M Football Could Face Off Against DJ Durkin in 2024
For those who have followed Texas A&M football closely over the past two years, it is well-known that the fanbase's opinion of DJ Durkin's coaching quality has been something of a roller coaster in that time period. He came in as a hire that many fans were hoping was not a retread; his results in year one were mixed, with the first truly bad rush defense the Aggies had seen in the Fisher era, but maybe the best passing defense the Maroon and White had seen in that time frame.
Year two was an improvement, all things considered, even if things tailed off pretty harshly by the end. It was a season marked by excellent linebacker play and a much-improved defensive front. Especially during the middle third of the season, the Aggie DL was terrorizing opposing quarterbacks to no end; again, though, this wasn't enough of a factor down the stretch.
The huge issue, of course, was the passing defense. The Miami game was the nadir for the unit; thanks to a poor game plan that neutralized the rest of the defense, the Aggie corners were left on an island for much of the afternoon, and Tyler Van Dyke had a career day. Outings against Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU weren't much better (though in Oxford, as in the bowl game, the Aggies were operating with a threadbare crew in the defensive backfield).
All things considered, most fans were ready to move on from Durkin. His units felt too inconsistent, especially given the fact that more often than not the onus was on them to win the game, since the offense was so anemic. The improved linebacker play was a big plus, and will hopefully help earn Edgerrin Cooper a huge payday in the NFL; however, the juice ostensibly just wasn't worth the squeeze for Mike Elko, who hired Jay Bateman as DC and LBs coach instead.
That part has been known for a while. Reporting is now emerging, however, that Durkin has become the focus of the search of an SEC school currently seeking a DC. According to Matt Zenitz, Auburn is looking to hire the former Aggie DC to join Hugh Freeze's staff.
If the Tigers end up hiring Durkin, Texas A&M football would face him late in 2024, as the Aggies and Tigers face off on November 23rd. Durkin is by no means a slouch of a DC; he coordinated some good units here, even if one side of the ball or the other seemed to suffer unduly in quality at times. The Tigers have a decent amount of defensive talent returning, and Durkin wouldn't be a terrible hire for them.
Even so, I get the feeling that this isn't a hire that would particularly frighten Aggie fans. The recruitment with which Durkin was most involved, Tyanthony Smith, has already ended with Smith choosing the Longhorns, so portal concerns would be minimal. I personally would feel a lot better, as I wouldn't have to hear people who don't understand defensive strategy complaining about three-man fronts as often.