Last week the University of Maryland retained, then later fired, former head football coach DJ Durkin. One piece of commentary that may have gotten lost in all of the chaos at Maryland were former Heisman winner Tim Tebow’s feedback criticizing the university for seemingly caving in to social media after first deciding to keep Durkin:
“People are so afraid to have conviction, to believe in something when they make a decision that they’re like, ‘Oh, my goodness, social media’s against us. We’re gonna fire him now,” Tebow said, later adding, “Let me tell you something: Social media’s never gonna always like you. There’s always going to be naysayers. But it changed the Tennessee job. It’s changed this. I want these presidents and AD’s to stand up, and when you say something, have it mean something.”
While the gist of Tebow’s comments may have been well-intended to remind people of the importance of having conviction when making decisions (and not be swayed by social media), critics may have issue with Tebow’s suggested way of thinking. First, it’s important to throw out the idea that social media should always play the biggest role when decisions hang in the balance. I don’t think most rational-minded people exclusively turn to social media to make their decisions, so it doesn’t seem to make much sense examining the issue from that perspective.
What appears to have happened, in fact, was that the Maryland leaders originally came to a decision on Durkin without fully realizing the impact it would have on its constituents, fans, and alumni. This impact, ironically, would only be known by first making the decision, then watching how others react and respond. Is this the best way to make important decisions? Probably not, but if we are to take Tebow at his word he would suggest that even after it was immediately discovered through social media that the Maryland decision was roundly criticized by Terrapin supporters, Maryland should have stuck by Durkin. Tebow’s suggestion can be furthered distilled to the idea that “decisions are decisions,” and that no matter what you learn after the decision is made it doesn’t matter — decisions, once made, should be written in stone.
It took awhile, but Maryland finally got it right
It can certainly be argued that Maryland handled the Durkin situation poorly, and that their original decision to retain him made little sense. Having said that, Maryland eventually got it right in the end by firing Durkin, even if it took some social media “nudging” to get them to come to their senses. Ask yourself, would the Maryland situation be better or worse if they kept Durkin on board even in light of all the negative feedback that followed simply because that was their original decision?
Sometimes in life we get things wrong the first time — after all, we’re human. When we error in judgement it is better to improve upon poor decisions rather than “double down” to avoid looking incompetent, naive, ill-equipped, or simply not a confident decision maker. From my view I find it admirable when individuals and institutions continue to evaluate decisions, and change course when it’s clear to do so (as in the case of Durkin). It was an extremely controversial decision to keep him, and a welcoming decision when the university changed course.
“I want these presidents and AD’s to stand up, and when you say something, have it mean something.”
I think saying you made a terrible mistake, and then correcting the mistake, certainly “says something,” and it also “means something” to those who care about Maryland football being a safe environment lead by responsible coaches.