On The Beat: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Maryland’s D.J. Durkin enter no-friend zone

When Michigan and Maryland play Saturday in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Jim Harbaugh will have extra incentive.

Harbaugh will face off against D.J. Durkin, Maryland’s second-year coach. Durkin is Harbaugh’s former defensive coordinator at Michigan and his former assistant at Stanford.

Harbaugh helped groom Durkin into one of college football’s promising young coaches.

Harbaugh will put his friendship and working relationship with Durkin aside because he wants to beat Maryland on Saturday (3:30 p.m., BTN). Michigan is 7-2 (4-2 Big Ten) on the season, while Maryland is 4-5 (2-4).

Michigan’s players, some of whom played for or were recruited by Durkin in his short tenure in Ann Arbor — and who embraced his intensity as a coach and as a person — will do the same.

Durkin left Michigan in December 2015 to become Maryland’s coach after less than a year on Harbaugh’s first staff in Ann Arbor. On the outside, some took it as a betrayal. Some were blindsided by it. Wolverines defensive end Chase Winovich may still be sore that he didn’t even get to say goodbye to Durkin, even though he watched him walk out of the program’s football facility for the last time that December day.

Harbaugh respects Durkin. He enabled Durkin’s ambition to become a head coach.

Then, he welcomed Durkin to the Big Ten coaching fraternity in 2016 with a less-than-gracious gift. In a 59-3 win in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines accrued 660 yards of offense, held Maryland to 78 yards rushing and knocked out quarterback Perry Hills.

The Wolverines have devalued Maryland to the point where it is simply a “nameless, faceless opponent” and that Saturday is “just another game.”

It’s a familiar refrain among Michigan’s players this week. That is how Harbaugh is treating Durkin and the Terrapins, and that’s how Michigan, in general, is treating its opponent.

Sometimes, that’s the best way to treat a relationship, especially when a win is at stake. A win against a former teammate, however, brings a little more satisfaction.

The post On The Beat: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Maryland’s D.J. Durkin enter no-friend zone appeared first on Land of 10.

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