The Saban effect: Broyles Award winner Locksley reboots career with Tide

By: Tim Cooper
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Alabama offensive coordinator Michael Locksley stands with the Broyles Award after he was named the recipient on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Little Rock.
Photo by John Sykes Jr.
Alabama offensive coordinator Michael Locksley stands with the Broyles Award after he was named the recipient on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Little Rock.

Michael Locksley is a former head coach whose fortunes have changed for the better as an assistant.

As the head coach of the University of New Mexico from 2009-2011, Locksley's Lobos won only two of 28 games. As an interim head coach at the University of Maryland in 2015, Locksley's team suffered five consecutive losses before winning its season finale.

A year later, Locksley joined the University of Alabama staff as an offensive analyst, and his career has enjoyed a much more favorable outcome.

Locksley Hired at Maryland

Maryland hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its football coach Tuesday night, bringing home a familiar presence after the most tumultuous year in the program's recent history.

Locksley will take over after a season defined by tragedy and turmoil. Offensive lineman Jordan McNair died in June of heatstroke he suffered during an offseason workout, and in the wake of his death came allegations of bullying and intimidation by coach DJ Durkin and one of his assistants.

Durkin spent more than two months on administrative leave while independent investigations were conducted into McNair's death and the culture surrounding the team. The governing board for the state university system decided to reinstate Durkin on Oct. 30, a decision that prompted widespread outrage and protests by players. University president Wallace Loh fired Durkin the next day.

Matt Canada served as interim coach this fall and presided over a 5-7 season. He was credited with keeping the team together under difficult circumstances and he interviewed for the permanent job, but Maryland instead went with Locksley, who had two previous stops with the Terrapins.

Locksley, who has since been promoted to offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, was named the 2018 winner of the 23rd annual Broyles Award on Tuesday at the Little Rock Marriott Hotel.

The Broyles Award honors college football's top assistant coach. Locksley is the first Alabama assistant to win the award since Kirby Smart won in 2009 as a defensive coordinator.

"After my time as a head coach, I got put in the Nick Saban witness protection program," Locksley joked to the packed ballroom audience.

Locksley, 48, was born in Washington, D.C., and played safety and cornerback for Towson State in Maryland. He was named the Tigers' defensive player of the year for his senior season. He graduated in the spring of 1992 with a degree in marketing.

Locksley has served as an assistant coach at Towson State, the University of Pacific (Stockton, Calif.), Army, Maryland, Florida and Illinois.

No. 1 and unbeaten Alabama (13-0) led the SEC in total offense, passing and points per game. It was third in the SEC in rushing. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was second in the league in passing yards, and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was second in the league in receiving.

Locksley's offense is averaging 47.9 points and 527.6 yards a game, and Tagovailoa is a Heisman Trophy finalist. The Tide already have set school single-season records for points, total offense, offensive touchdowns and passing yards.

With Locksley calling the plays, Alabama's average scoring drive in 2018 took only five plays and a little more than three minutes.

"It's amazing because those are the same plays I called at some of the other places where I wasn't a really good coach," Locksley said. "It just goes to show you how really great players and great leadership from the top makes a difference."

The defending national champion, Alabama has once again earned the right to play for a title. The Tide will play Oklahoma (12-1) in the Orange Bowl in a national semifinal game Dec. 29.

"We've got a tremendous amount of players there at Alabama that are hard workers," Locksley said. "You know it's easy to say, 'If you coach at Alabama you should be able to do that.' But those players put in so much hard work, energy and effort. Under Coach Saban's leadership, it's amazing that we're able to continue to do it year after year and game after game."

Locksley was the last of the five finalists to arrive for the ceremony, flying into Little Rock late Monday night.

"I wish I could [enjoy the moment]," he said. "I'm a little under the weather. We had a big game Saturday. Obviously a big win over Georgia. And we started the recruiting process on Monday, and I flew in late last night.

"But I'm excited to win this award and be associated with Coach Broyles and all he stood for in the coaching profession. It means a lot to me and my family."

The four other finalists for the Broyles Award were Jay Bateman, defensive coordinator at Army; Jeff Scott, co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Clemson; Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Mississippi State; and Chip Long, offensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

BROYLES AWARD WINNERS

YEAR;NAME, SCHOOL

2018;Michael Locksley, Alabama

2017;Tony Elliott, Clemson

2016;Brent Venables, Clemson

2015;Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma

2014;Tom Herman, Ohio State

2013;Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

2012;Bob Diaco, Notre Dame

2011;John Chavis, LSU

2010;Gus Malzahn, Auburn

2009;Kirby Smart, Alabama

2008;Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma

2007;Jim Heacock, Ohio State

2006;Bud Foster, Virginia Tech

2005;Greg Davis, Texas

2004;Gene Chizik, Auburn

2003;Brian Van Gorder, Georgia

2002;Norm Chow, Southern Cal

2001;Randy Shannon, Miami

2000;Mark Mangino, Oklahoma

1999;Ralph Friedgen, Georgia Tech

1998;David Cutcliffe, Tennessee

1997;Jim Herrmann, Michigan

1996;Mickey Andrews, Florida State

Sports on 12/05/2018

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