Locksley set to replace Crowton as Maryland's offensive coordinator

Maryland TerrapinsCollege FootballFootballCollege SportsColorado State RamsC.J. BrownDanny O'Brien

Gary Crowton is out after one disappointing season as Maryland's offensive coordinator, and the school is expected to hire former New Mexico coach Mike Locksley as his replacement, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Locksley, dismissed by New Mexico this past season, had a 2-26 win-loss record at the school but is known as an aggressive recruiter. He is a former Maryland assistant and recruiting coordinator and played defensive back for Towson in 1988-1991 before also serving as an assistant there.

The terms of Crowton's departure will be negotiated between him and the school, the source said.

Maryland was unhappy with Crowton, who had publicly reached out to Colorado State and declared his interest in the head coaching position.

After Crowton made his interest in the Rams job known a week ago, he seemed to want to clarify his intentions. He said Friday in a text message: "I am very happy at Maryland. I am looking forward to having a winning season in 2012."

But the story of his interest in the other job created an Internet buzz, and Maryland — eager to demonstrate stability after a 2-10 season under a first-year coach — was not pleased at the impression that Crowton's overture created.

The search for a replacement led to Locksley, who had served four seasons as Illinois' offensive coordinator before becoming a head coach. When he was hired by New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal wrote that the school's athletic director "wanted the next Lobo coach be a strong recruiter and run an exciting offense."

Before his Illinois job under Ron Zook, Locksley was a Florida assistant — also under Zook. At Maryland, Locksley had worked under two head coaches — Ron Vanderlinden and Ralph Friedgen.

At New Mexico in 2009, Locksley had an altercation with a former New Mexico assistant. Locksley served a 10-day suspension and apologized to the assistant and to Lobos fans. Also in 2009, a former administrative assistant filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing Locksley of age discrimination and sexual harassment. Locksley countered with a defamation lawsuit.

It could be that Crowton and Maryland will agree to a negotiated buyout under which the school won't be responsible for the entire balance of his three-year contract, which ends December 31, 2013. He makes a guaranteed $500,000 per year .

If Crowton were found in breach of contract, Maryland would not be responsible for the balance. It's not known whether the school will try to make that case.

Crowton's contract contains a provision barring him from actively seeking "other employment of any nature" without first having advised the head coach. Neither Crowton nor head coach Randy Edsall replied to messages Wednesday. The account of Crowton's interest in the Colorado State job appeared publicly in the Denver Post. The school hired Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.

Edsall, who has a six-year contract, has said he is trying to mold the program for the long term. Crowton came to Maryland having won a national championship as LSU's offensive coordinator. He popularized a version of the wide-receiver screen as coordinator of the Chicago Bears and was instrumental in bringing longtime friend Chip Kelly to Oregon.

Crowton became known at Maryland for his hurry-up offense, his flash cards signaling in offensive plays and his quiet intensity.

Crowton — a former head coach at BYU and Louisiana Tech — brought a no-huddle variation of the spread offense to Maryland. Maryland gained 499 yards in an opening-game win over Miami.

But the offense, hurt by injuries and suspensions, seemed to click only sporadically after that. The Terps ranked 10th in scoring offense in the 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference. They were 10th in passing offense and third in rushing offense.

Maryland couldn't top 21 points in five of the last six games and ended the season on an eight-game losing streak.

The terms of Crowton's departure will be made public once they are finalized.

Among those certain to have followed the search for his replacement were redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown.

Playing in an offense in which he was occasionally expected to take off on option runs, O'Brien — who seems to like a pro-style offense — clearly wasn't the same quarterback as he was in his first season, in which he was named ACC Rookie of the Year. The mobile Brown rushed for 574 yards.

Those who know O'Brien said he had adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude about the next coordinator. Assuming O'Brien stays, he will be playing for Maryland's third coordinator in three years.

Since the season ended, eight players with eligibility remaining have left Maryland. The school has said such turnover is expected so soon after a coaching change.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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