Should Texas A&M Football Fans Be Worried after Division Rival Hires Former Aggie DC?

Texas A&M football will be seeing an assistant coach from the previous two years on the schedule in 2024.
Jul 24, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Maryland head coach DJ Durkin addresses the media during the Big Ten
Jul 24, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Maryland head coach DJ Durkin addresses the media during the Big Ten / Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Hires Former Texas A&M Football DC DJ Durkin; Should Aggies Be Worried?

News broke earlier this evening that Auburn was finalizing the hire of their new DC: former Texas A&M football assistant DJ Durkin. The report from Chris Low confirmed earlier rumors that Hugh Freeze and his staff were looking in to hiring the former Aggie DC.

Opinions of Durkin were very up and down during his tenure at Texas A&M. Following Mike Elko was never going to be an easy task, and it wasn't uncommon to hear complaints that Jimbo only ever landed on Durkin because he was a familiar name, and Fisher had practically made a cottage industry out of hiring coaching retreads.

Whether or not those criticisms were fair when it came to other hires, Durkin probably performed the best in his role out of all of them. The Aggie defense was a formidable unit at times over his tenure in College Station, as the Maroon and White boasted one of the top pass defenses in the nation in 2022 and one of the highest defensive havoc rates in the nation in 2023.

For those doubtlessly very strong points, there were also some drawbacks. The rushing defense was horrendous at times in 2022, with the nadir being the Ole Miss game where the Rebels racked up almost 400 yards on the ground. In 2023, it was the pass defense—so recently a huge asset for the Aggies—that failed them time and again.

Overall, though, Durkin's units were definitely more than competent during his time on the Aggie sideline. There were definite holes, but they weren't near the level of how awful several defenses under Sumlin were, for example. In fact, in 2023, the Aggies were often able to work around how poor their pass defense was, turning in great performances against Auburn, Arkansas, and South Carolina—none were offensive juggernauts, but they were unable to victimize what was supposed to be the weakness of the defense.

In the end, Durkin's units, though above average and certainly the reason the Aggies remained in contention during several games, were not championship level. For this reason, though I think he is a solid hire for the Tigers, I don't think Texas A&M football fans have much to fear here. The Aggies will face off against Auburn on November 23rd; I think by then we will be seeing Tiger defense that plays hard, but has some clearly defined areas where new Aggie OC Collin Klein can attack them.

I bet you thought I would talk more about three man fronts, huh? Nope. Won't be baited into it.