Mike Locksley makes history at the University of Maryland. (Photo credit: umterps.com)
Mike Locksley is a Maryland guy.
Locksley, the interim head football coach at the University of Maryland, is from Washington, D.C., played his college football at Towson State, and has worked for the last three head coaches in College Park. So when athletic director Kevin Anderson needed a strong leader to steward a sinking ship for the remainder of the season Locksley was the unquestionable choice. Randy Edsall, theformer head coach, was let go on Oct. 11 after starting the season 2-4.
“There are very few things I don’t know about the University of Maryland athletics/football program,” Locksley said in an interview with the AFRO. “I beat Ohio State at the horseshoe. I beat Michigan at the big house, and I’ve won at Michigan State.
For the past 12 years Locksley has made himself a fixture in Maryland football circles by heavily recruiting from the area for major college programs around the country. He lured players such as Aurellious Benn (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Vontae Davis (of the Indianapolis Colts) to the University of Illinois. They were major components in the Illini’s Big 10 championship and Rose Bowl appearance in 2008. His previous success in the conference gives him the confidence to believe he can lead the Maryland Terrapins to wins in four of their final six games. Should he accomplish that then the team will be eligible for the post season.
“We still have the ability to reach the goals that we set at the start of the season,” said Locksley. “For what have been through we want to make the rest of the season as fun as possible. We want to play the game in its purest form. There’s no pressure on us because when there is a coaching change everybody else’s expectations tend to drop. We can leave caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to win games.”
As Locksley prepares the Terps for the Oct. 24 game against Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium the irony can’t be overlooked. When he looks across the field and sees James Franklin he will see the man who was slated to precede him as Maryland’s first Black head coach. Anderson didn’t follow the secession plan set forth by Randy Edsall’s predecessor, Ralph Friedgen, so the history associated with this opportunity falls to Locksley. However, the whirlwind of the past two weeks hasn’t given him time to pause and embrace the historical significance.
“Those are the things that aren’t important to the game itself. That’s what the fans and media tend to look at,” said Locksley. “We can’t worry about the past record against Penn State or the rivalry we’re trying to create or the things that involved why James was to replace Ralph Friedgen or not.”
“The only thing that we’ve got to worry about is the game we are going to play Saturday . That’s what I’m going to put all my energy into and that’s what I’ve asked the guys to do because where you get in trouble in such a fragile time like now is if you get caught on things that don’t affect the game. We have a one track mind on the game that’s coming up.”
While Locksley doesn’t see it as a dress rehearsal for the full time job the stage is set for him to make a strong case for consideration. Maryland has an imposing schedule to finish the season with games against nationally ranked conference opponents: Penn St., Michigan St., and Iowa. Perennial Big 10 power Wisconsin is their homecoming guest with Indiana and Rutgers presenting great challenges down the stretch. Four wins over the next six would make for a compelling argument though he doesn’t plan to lobby for the job.
“Anyone who knows me knows the affinity I have for this area and the University of Maryland,” says Locksley. “No matter where I’ve been I’ve always checked to see how are doing. If it happens great but, if not, I will put on another uniform and continue to recruit players from the DMV.”