Mike Locksley was introduced as the Maryland new head football coach by athletics director Damon Evans on Thursday.
During the press conference, Alabama's outgoing offensive coordinator was asked about everything from working for Nick Saban for three seasons to his prior coaching experiences, and how he'll handle the transition during the College Football Playoff.
The following transcript was provided by Maryland:
Athletic Director Damon Evans' Opening Statement
“Thank you everyone. First and foremost, I want to give a round of applause to the Mighty Sound of Maryland. Thank you so much. What an extremely exciting day for Terp nation. I want to thank all of you for coming out today as we welcome home Coach Michael Locksley. This is an extremely exciting day for Maryland and especially our football community. I also want to say welcome to Kia, Mike’s lovely wife, his daughter Kori and also his in-laws, thank you all for being here today. I would also like to acknowledge some special guests who in attendance with us today. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge President Wallace Loh, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, Chair of the Board of Regents: Doctor Linda Gooden and finally chancellor of the University Systems of Maryland Doctor Bob Caret, welcome.
As I look across this wonderful facility, this historic Cole Field House, it is a true testament to Mike [Locksley] by your attendance here that he is exactly what we needed for our community. Mike [Locksley] is engrained in the very fabric of who we are as a state, and who we are as Terps. He embodies the spirit of One Maryland. As we all know, this has been a difficult season for our team. They deserved someone who could bring us together. Someone who understands what they have gone through. Someone who can help them continue to heal, after the tragic passing of their teammate, Jordan McNair. In hearing from so many of his former players and when I say many Mike [Locksley] it must’ve been thousands. It was clear that Coach Locksley doesn’t just consider himself a coach while the student-athletes are here, he’s their coach for life. And I know that he will continue as we all do to put their health and safety and welfare at the forefront of what he does. I also know this: Coach Locksley will continue to build upon the outstanding job that Matt Canada did supporting our student athletes. I want to take a moment to thank Coach Canada, his staff and all of our support staff for the hard work and terrific job they did this season.
During the process, what stood out to me about Coach Locksley was two things. One, his heart and two his humility. These are the values that he will apply as he helps to develop our student-athletes to leaders in our community. We are excited as to how he will shape our program. Now we all talk about Mike as this great recruiter and he’s known to be one of the best in the country. But let’s not forget he is just as talented as a coach. But as much as it pains me to say it, to mention this team’s name. I have to give credit where credit is due. Alabama has been a long-storied football program with a rich history. But under Mike’s leadership their offense reached heights that they had never imagined. In fact, they set four new records on the offense this past year. Those records include; most points scored, most total yards, most passing yards and most passing touchdowns. All of which Mike [Locksley] is bringing to us at Maryland. I have to say as much as I hate to say this, I watched last week as Mike [Locksley] and his prolific offense beat up on my alma mater for the second time in his many years, and that hit home – those true coaching skills.
When Coach Locksley was awarded the Frank Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach, he eloquently talked about why he got into coaching. He talked about growing up in [Washington] D.C., the role his coaches played in filing a void in his life and how they molded him into the person he has become today. This is the heart of why we do – what we do in collegiate athletics. And the heart of why Coach Locksley is our new head coach. We have the opportunity to mold future leaders in our community and to change lives one student at a time. Coach Locksley; Kia, Kori, and all of the Locksley family, we are all excited to have you. We are thrilled that you will be leading our program into the future and to even greater heights.”
Head Coach Michael Locksley's Opening Statement
“It sure feels good to be home, man. It feels great to be back in the DMV with my family, all my friends, all the people that showed up here for me today. I can’t tell you guys enough how this is a dream come true for me to be the leader of the Maryland Terrapins football family. Before I get started, I’ve got a lot of ‘Thank Yous.’ One of the things I learned from the great (Alabama head) coach Nick Saban is that every thank you comes with an I.O.U. And I owe a lot of people, starting with my wife, Kia, who’s been my coach. We’ve had a tough year, year-and-a-half losing Meiko and she has been a rock star and been there to support me through that journey. I can’t thank her enough for all of her support. My daughter Kori - big time soccer player from Auburn who took time out of her schedule to come up her. I love you to death and I appreciate you being here, and all the rest of my family - my inlaws, grandma, grand-dad. It’s great having you here, Jeff, Luke.
I also want to thank Dr. Loh for having faith in me to lead this program. I want to thank the Chancellor of the University of Maryland System, the Chair of the Board of Regents, obviously Senator Mike Miller, Athletic Director Damon Evans for your faith and belief in me, the members of the search committee. I’ve got to thank Coach Saban. I just spend three years of my 28 years in this business coaching under a guy that I feel is the greatest coach in the history of college football, if not football alone. I just spent three years saturated in winning and seeing what it’s like to be done right. I can only hope that I can take just a little bit of what I’ve learned from Coach Saban the past three years to implement and install here at the University of Maryland.
Also want to thank everyone - we’ve got a bunch of high school coaches that I’ve known, former players, students that I’ve met, Jose - the best cleaning man in the business, been taking care of that Gossett Team House for a long time, all the supporters of the football program, the current coaching staff here, Matt Canada for the great job he did keeping this thing together, and all of the campus leaders and community leaders across the campus for the job that you guys have done supporting these players.
There’s one person in particular that I have a tremendous relationship with - and it means the world to me that he would be here to celebrate this joyous day - my good friend Marty McNair. I appreciate you being here with me. I got a text from Tonya [Wilson], I know she wanted to be here and I appreciate you guys taking part in this joyous day for me and my family. Marty and my relationship goes back a long way. Our kids went to school together, we both just have tragically lost our kids, and I have been a mentor for Marty and Marty has been a sounding board for me. The last year and a half, as we’ve worked through dealing with the emotions and toughness of losing a child, man Marty, you and Tonya are rock stars and I really appreciate you taking the time out, you being here to help me celebrate me coming home. It means the world to me.
This is a dream job for me. My best friend in the world, Lawrence Brown, is over there. Lawrence and I used to spend a lot of time in the Cole Field House parking lot, and I can’t tell you the stories of why we were in those parking lots, but we attended as many of those basketball games as we could, going over into Maryland Stadium and having an opportunity. Grew up rooting for the Terps and if you know anything about the Terps, in the mid-‘80s, they were a tough, tough team. I grew up loving the Terps and this dream job for me - I’ve always wanted to be a Terp and I wasn’t a good enough football player coming out of Ballou High School, so I settled with being a Towson Tiger. And it’s a Towson State Tiger, I know Dr. [Robert] Caret is here, he actually signed my diploma which is hanging on my wall. He was the provost at Towson during that time.
But I’m very thankful for this opportunity and it’s not something that I won’t take to heart to be a tremendous leader of this program. I told the team this morning when I met with them that I’m not here to just build a winning football team. I’m here to build a winning football family. The thing about family - as well all know - that family name is something that people wear with pride. I know growing up in the southwest section of D.C. that when someone said the name Locksley - that’s Bryant and Eric Locksley’s little brother - that Locksley name carried a lot of pride and respect. As I told the team, our family name is Terrapins - Terps for short. And when people say it, I want them to say it with some respect. I want our players to be very prideful about that family name and I want us to display and be the program we need to be to make the Terp name proud and successful.
Being back home, being from the D.C. area, I told the team that every Sunday, there are five teams that I check the scores for, no matter where I am in the country. I always check the Washington Post to see how my Ballou Knights did, I always check the Baltimore Sun to see how my Towson Tigers did, and I always check up on my Washington Redskins, my favorite team growing up, the Maryland Terrapins, and then whoever I coach for. It’s important for me to have a great weekend. It’s tough when you have a 1-4 weekend with all your teams that you love and you grew fond of growing up.
It’s amazing, I’ve had 10 years of coaching here at the University of Maryland. I’ve worked under Ron Vanderlinden, I’ve worked under Ralph Friedgen, worked under Randy Edsall, spent a short time with DJ Durkin. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown. I feel like this is the place where I cut my teeth as a coach. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all the great coaches, and I can’t name them all because I’d forget somebody and they’d be mad at me, but for all the coaches that I worked under as an assistant, I thank you for the opportunities that you guys gave me, to introduce me to such a great profession.
I talk about why I got into coaching. I grew up in a home with a single mom that worked a lot, and those coaches at the Boys & Girls Club - the No. 4 Boys & Girls Club down in Southwest - that Boys & Girls Club raised me, which is why the Boys & Girls Club has always been very true and dear to my heart. It’s amazing how those assistant coaches that give you a ride home, buy you cleats, pick you up from school, they become basically father figures for you. And when I knew I wasn’t good enough to take football any further - when I left Towson - I knew that I wanted to be a coach because of all the people that played a role in shaping me into becoming the man that I’ve become. So I want to thank all those coaches for what you guys have done to put me in this position to be the new Maryland football family.
I’m excited to lead this group of young men. It’s amazing, and I told the team how proud I was. I can remember, as we were preparing to play Louisville in the first game of the year, the Terps were playing Texas, and I’m in the hotel with my Alabama coaching gear on and I am watching the Terps just take it to Texas. What passion, energy, toughness that this team played with. Man, it’s a testament to Matt [Canada] and all the coaches on this coaching staff, how you guys were able to get these kids to play. So I’m not coming into a bare cover, I’m coming into a team that has fight in them, has toughness and the characteristics that I feel like we can build on.
And I can tell you this - my No. 1 priority and focus will be in the health, development, and safety as the head of this family. Just like any family, as the leader of it, every decision I make with these kids will be made as if they were my own child. And that’s not anything I take lightly. Proud of the way they came together and fought adversity after losing their brother in Jordan. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love, having lost my son Meiko. And just like Marty, Tonya and this Maryland football family, it’s not something that just goes away. It’s a day-to-day fight and I’m looking forward to fighting this battle with our team, Marty and Tonya, with my family and with this football family to continue to honor our loved ones by putting out a great product on the field - that these fans and our supporters can be really, really proud of.
I want to create the right culture and environment, and winning will follow. We have one of the best areas in the country for talent, and we’re going to work our tails off to keep it right here. Football has opened so many doors for me, providing me with role models and mentors, friendships and people who have looked out for me. Being a coach is my opportunity to pay it forward. Thank you guys. Thank everyone who’s come out today. I look forward to seeing everybody at Maryland Stadium next season, supporting this team and this family. Thank you guys and go Terps.”
On balancing the next few weeks, recruiting for Maryland and preparing Alabama for the playoffs:
Locksley: “First of all luckily for me I work for a guy that doesn’t have a lot of surprises, there’s not a lot of things that haven’t been planned out in Coach [Nick] Saban and this isn’t his first rodeo in dealing with a coach, having to prepare for a playoff game while working for another institution. We have a schedule in place and my plan is to be here in Maryland probably into next week. I am trying to start the process, with talking to the team first. I plan to meet with the team individually, I met with them collectively. Meet with the assistant coaches that are here on staff and then start recruiting as well. And then when I head back to Tuscaloosa next Thursday, we start practice on Friday for our Oklahoma preparation. The way it’s worked is I will work on Oklahoma during the day and when we practice. Then at night I will go into my office and put my Terp hat on and start recruiting for the Terps to get the Terps ready for our season.”
On what he learned from head coaching position in New Mexico:
Locksley: “I am so far removed from that New Mexico experience, 10 years removed. Almost 10 years and 2 days from when I was introduced there. Who I have become as a coach, who I have become as a player, as everyone else you mature and grow. I just spent three years saturated in winning under Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama football program. It’s my goal to take the experiences that I’ve had as a coach, not just at New Mexico but at every stop along the way. Take what I’ve learned from being under Coach [Nick] Saban and his process and find a way to create that environment here with our football family.”
Evans: “Obviously Mike [Locksley] and I did have an extended conversation [about] life and we talked about his past. He has grown as an individual, I saw that. He indicated what he had learned and you can just see in him where he was then which was 8-10 years ago to where he is now. He’s had a lot of life lessons as we’ve all have. [He is] well-vetted and I couldn’t be prouder then to have him sitting right next to me on this stage.”
On why he wanted to tackle this project:
Locksley: “I said in my opening comments, this has been a dream job for me from the day I got into coaching. I grew up in this environment, in this community. As you know this DMV community is very prideful. We root hard for our home teams. I grew up worshipping and loving the Terps. When I got into coaching this was the one job that I always coveted, and I spent 10 years of my coaching career here. I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly of Maryland. I’ve had the opportunity to win a conference championship here, I was a part of winning 30 games in 3 years during the early 2000’s under Coach Friedgen. So, I have a vision and picture in my mind of what it felt like and what it looked like when we accomplished those goals as a team and I know it can be done again. I know it will take some hard work, it will take some great effort – it will take this community getting behind the program and the players in this area staying home. And developing that sense of pride back in wearing a Terp jersey. I love building, I am a builder by nature and this is a great opportunity and the timing was just perfect for me now.”
On his experience with Nick Saban:
Locksley: “We would need about a three-hour course because I have been there for three years and every day I am a big copious note taker and I couldn’t even start to say. But I think the number one thing it starts with consistency. If you look at the Alabama football program it has consistency written all over it. I know every day at 7:20 am- 7:26 am Nick Saban is going to pull up, he’s going to walk up the stairs, he’ll be at his desk by 7:30 a.m. He will be in his conference room, we’re going to have a 10:30 a.m. staff meeting every day. His regimen and his consistency of how he went about the program. I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned from being under Coach Saban is focus on the process not the result. Don’t worry about game day, don’t look up at the scoreboard. Let’s win every day and maximize every opportunity within your program. If its’s a staff meeting, be where your feet are, be in that staff meeting. Let’s make sure we maximize that time. The man is amazing in terms of his preparation, there is nobody that works harder than Nick Saban. The expectation he has on us as a staff, starts with him and he sets a great example, I’ve learned that. I’ve learned that discipline, toughness, effort are really important characteristics in building a winning team. I also realized how important the family environment is and that’s to me what we want to do and how we want to build this program.”
On if there was any trepidation about taking this position and his relationship with Jordan McNair's family:
Locksley: “I can only really speak to moving forward and what my plans are to develop and build this football family. This was a job I’ve coveted since the day I put a whistle around my neck as a coach. Some people grow up wanting to be the head coach of the University of Alabama, Michigan – all the storied programs. For Locks, this was it. When the opportunity presented itself for me to have the ability to come here and be the leader of this family, there was nothing stopping me from wanting to take this job, other than confirming all the pieces were in place for this program, this family to be successful. After meeting with Dr. Loh, meeting with Damon, and meeting with the search committee, I really felt comfortable that everyone was pulling in the right direction, pulling together to see this thing through the tough times. My relationship with Marty and Tonya, again, it started even before Jordan’s passing. My daughter attended McDonough High School with Jordan and they graduated in the same class, they both signed their national letters on the same day. Kori went to Auburn obviously, Jordan to Maryland. I started the recruiting process before I left on Jordan. For Marty and myself, Tonya and Kia, we have a common bond in that if you lose a child, the circle of life isn’t built for parents to bury kids. I have been a sounding board for Marty, he’s been an ear for me. Our relationship has continued to grow. For him to be here today just means the world to me and my family.”
On how it feels to have the amount of support he’s already received:
Locksley: “It’s what I have come to expect, it’s what I know. As I said before, being a fabric of this community growing up and being a part of this community, this is what you come to expect. This DMV, this Terrapin sports family, this One Maryland is all about supporting each other. I’m at a loss for words with the support. The high school coaches that are in here, the former players, the support staff that I’ve grown to know over the years, to see everybody come together as one to fight to make this program become the special program that I dreamed of it to become, and to have all the support and help is amazing and it’s something that I want to use to help bring this thing together to make it a special place.”
On if he was surprised to hear of allegations of a toxic culture within the football team:
Locksley: “I can really only comment on where I see this program going forward. It’s my goal to build this thing into a football family. With family, the words that come to mind to me are trust, respect, and discipline. With any family, there’s always going to be issues that come up. The No. 1 thing for me, just like being a father in the family, is ensuring that every decision I make moving forward as the leader of this family will put the health, welfare and safety of the students first, like I would my own children. That’s very easy to do, because as a parent, when you’ve got to make tough decisions, the ones I make here… I’m going to make it as if each kid and each decision I make is dealing with my own children. I’m excited about the future here. I’m excited about moving the program forward together with Terrapin nation and all the supporters that have come here today.”
On lessons that he learned as interim head coach at Maryland and competing in the Big Ten:
Locksley: “I think if I remember the first time I took over as the interim, the first thing I remember writing down was, ‘Have fun with it.’ And that’s going to be important to me. These kids that come into this football family, it’s going to be important that they love being here and being a part of the program that we put together. Probably didn’t have the success I would’ve liked to have when I took over as the interim, but I do feel like we gave those seniors, those guys that were playing their last few games as Terps the opportunity to go out and enjoy football and have fun with being a Terp. As far as playing in the Big Ten East, it is one of the best conferences, best leagues in all of college football. Tremendous challenge. But I also know that our first year here, we beat some teams in that league. I remember beating Michigan at Michigan, having Iowa here and beating them at home, having an opportunity to go up to Penn State and win a big game there. I know this – we’re excited about the challenge and the opportunity that playing on this side of the league has to offer us. If we keep the gates around the DMV and we get the top players in this area to buy in to staying here at home and building this thing from the ground up together, there’s nowhere in the country we can’t go compete with the best. Excited about this great opportunity for us.”
On hiring coaches and the timetable he plans on that happening:
Locksley: “That’s one thing that, having gone through this before, that’s not something that I’m going to take lightly. I’ve got to do a good job and do my due diligence bringing the best possible coaches, support staff and people to surround this team with. For me, there’s five things I look for in a coach - they’ve got to be great communicators, got to be good scheme guys, great recruiters, great evaluators of talent, and first and foremost they’ve got to be great mentors. I’m going to take my time, I’m going to meet with each and every individual coach on the staff, try to meet with those guys here in the next few days. I do have some thoughts in mind for some guys that I’d love to have come join me here, but I’m going to take my time with it to make sure I get it right so that I can give our players the best possible coaching staff, support staff, and first-class experience that they can have here being Terps.”