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Matt Canada interviews for Maryland football coach opening; Mike Locksley expected to interview

Mike Locksley, shown in 2015 when he was Maryland's interim head coach, is the offensive coordinator at Alabama. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

Matt Canada, who served as the Maryland football team’s interim coach this past season, interviewed for the head coaching job in Atlanta on Tuesday, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is expected to interview for the job after the Crimson Tide plays in the SEC championship game in Atlanta on Saturday, according to multiple people close to the program. It was not immediately clear if a date has been set for Locksley’s interview.

The interviews are being conducted by the Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search, the firm contracted by Maryland to help with the process. Maryland Athletic Director Damon Evans was also present for the interviews, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Canada and the Terps finished the season with a 5-7 overall record, 3-6 in the Big Ten, despite nearly constant chaos surrounding the program after the June death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair as a result of heat stroke suffered during a team workout. The university fired DJ Durkin as head coach on Oct. 31, 2½ months after it placed him on administrative leave.

Canada earned more than $1.1 million this past season as Maryland’s interim coach. As the offensive coordinator, he was set to make $650,000 annually; once he was named as Durkin’s interim replacement, Canada received an additional $155,000 for his first 30 days in that role and then $135,000 for each 30-day period that followed, according to an amendment to his contract obtained by The Washington Post through an open-records request.

Canada’s contract as offensive coordinator extends through the 2020 season, so if he is not retained by Maryland could be owed $900,000 over the next two years. However, his contract states that if he begins another coaching or consulting job, the amount he makes from his new employer would be subtracted from what Maryland owes him each period.

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Locksley, a Washington native, previously worked at Maryland as the running backs coach from 1997 to 2002 and again as offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2015. He served six games as the team’s interim coach in 2015 after the firing of Randy Edsall, finishing the year with a 1-5 record.

After that season, however, Maryland passed over Locksley for the permanent job in favor of Durkin. Evans, who at the time was the athletic department’s second-in-command, was part of that search committee.

Because of Locksley’s local ties and success recruiting in this area, the coach has support from many stakeholders, but in his only other head-coaching stint, at New Mexico, he had a 2-26 record and multiple off-the-field issues.

In May 2009, a former administrative assistant at New Mexico filed an age and sex discrimination complaint against Locksley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The claim was later withdrawn. Locksley was also suspended for 10 days without pay in September 2009 for punching one of his assistant coaches.

New Mexico struggled to a pair of 1-11 finishes in his first two seasons. His turbulent tenure hit a low-point early in his third season, when a 19-year-old friend of Locksley’s son was charged with suspicion of driving while intoxicated in a car that was registered to Locksley’s son and wife. Hours later, the team suffered an ugly loss to lower-division Sam Houston State to fall to 0-4. Locksley was fired the next morning.

Other possible candidates for the opening at Maryland include Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day, Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Troy Coach Neal Brown, Baylor Coach Matt Rhule, South Florida Coach Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason. Like Locksley, Tucker and Day are also coaching in conference championship games this weekend.

The early signing period for football recruits begins on Dec. 19, and Maryland currently has only eight members in its 2019 signing class. Maryland’s group ranks 86th in the country and last in the Big Ten, according to 247 Sports.

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