Gary Blackney is in his fifth season as the Terrapins' defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
In four seasons, Blackney has taken the Maryland defense and transformed it from a liability to one of the best units in the nation. In each of his four years, the Terps have finished the season in the nation's top 30 in scoring defense, with the 2004 team's 27th ranking being the only time the team finished outside of the top 20. In fact, only one school (Georgia) has finished higher than Maryland in the NCAA rankings each of those four years.
Last season, the Terrapins were put in one tough spot after another but remained one of the nation's best units, particularly in the pass defense department. Maryland finished 21st nationally in total defense (315.3 ypg) while ranking eighth in pass defense (172.3 ypg) and 16th in pass efficiency (106.59) while allowing just seven passing TDs all year. The defense produced two first team All-ACC players in DE Shawne Merriman and LB D'Qwell Jackson while Merriman was the 12th overall selection of the 2005 NFL Draft.
In 2003, the Terp defense was the rock while the offense took a few games early to get on track. In the end, the team finished ranked in the nation's top 25 in pass efficiency defense (17th, 105.86), total defense (15th, 308.4 ypg), scoring defense (sixth, 15.9 ppg) and pass defense (12th, 179.0 ypg). That season, all four of Blackney's starting defensive backs earned all-conference recognition.
In 2002, the Terrapin defense ranked first in the ACC and seventh nationally in scoring, allowing a paltry 16.3 points per game. In addition, the Maryland rushing and passing defense each ranked in the top three in the league while the team was second in the conference in sacks (37) and red-zone defense.
Under Blackney's guidance in 2001, the Terrapin defense led the ACC in scoring defense (19.1 ppg), rushing defense (90.6 ypg) and sacks (37). In addition, the Terps were second nationally in interceptions (24) and tied for seventh in turnovers forced with 34. The 24 interceptions were the most by a Maryland team in 51 years.
Prior to coming to Maryland, Blackney most recently served as the head coach at Bowling Green State University. He resigned his post following the final game of the 2000 season after 10 successful years with the program and an overall record of 60-50-2 (47-32-2, Mid-American Conference). The BGSU job was his first as a head coach and his 60 wins ranked third on the school's all-time list when he took the Maryland job.
Blackney left Bowling Green as the only coach in school history to win a bowl game, as he led the Falcons to victories in the 1991 California Raisin Bowl (28-21 over Fresno State) and the 1992 Las Vegas Bowl (35-34 over Nevada). With 11 wins in 1991 and 10 in 1992, he is the only coach in BGSU history to have back-to-back seasons of 10 wins or more. In doing so, he also became one of just three coaches ever to have been named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in consecutive seasons. Other honors at Bowling Green included being named a finalist for Football News' National Coach of the Year award in 1991 as well as two selections as AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year (in `91 and `92).
The 1991 season was Blackney's first as a head coach, and with 11 wins that year, he tied an NCAA record for most wins by a first-year head coach. In fact, his career at Bowling Green began with a MAC-record 19 straight conference wins and a 22-game unbeaten streak in the first two years. But the accolades did not end on the playing field for Blackney. When he left, he was the only coach from the MAC to have his recruiting classes receive the American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award (70 percent or better graduation rate) each year of the award's existence. His first recruiting class (1991-92) finished with one of the top marks in the nation at 93 percent.
Prior to taking over at Bowling Green, Blackney was an assistant coach for 21 years. After serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Connecticut, in 1968 and `69, he got his first full-time position in 1970 as a defensive backs coach at Brown. He then spent two seasons (1973-74) as offensive backs coach at Rhode Island.
From there his stint serving big-time programs began, often alongside some of the game's most recognized names. From 1975-77, he was a defensive backs coach and ultimately defensive coordinator (1977) at Wisconsin. After three years with the Badgers, he moved to the west coast and UCLA where he worked as a defensive backs coach under Terry Donahue. In 1980, Blackney came back east to Syracuse where he held the same post from 1980-83 under Dick MacPherson. His final coaching spot before Bowling Green was at Ohio State where he began his tenure in 1984 as a defensive backs coach under Earle Bruce and ended as an inside linebackers coach from 1988-90 under John Cooper. In between (1985-87), he was the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator.
Of all of his positions, however, none had the eventual name power that could match that of his playing days at Connecticut. In Storrs, he was on a team that featured names such as Rick Forzano, Lou Holtz, former Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano, as well as eventual NFL assistants Dave Adolph and Dan Sekanovich.
A 1967 graduate and former running back/defensive back at UConn, Blackney is a native of Plainview, N.Y., and was born in Astoria, N.Y. He and his wife, Lauretta, have four children (Debbie, David, Kyle and Gary, Jr.) and four grandchildren (Kerie, Jamie, Abby and Celia).