James Madison’s new era in football will begin with Everett Withers as head coach.
The Dukes made official Friday what had been rumored the previous day, hiring Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator to replace Mickey Matthews, who was fired after a 6-6 campaign concluded his 15-season, 109-71 tenure that included a national championship in 2004 and a huge upset at No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010.
A JMU email announced the news late Friday afternoon. The hiring is effective immediately, though Withers won’t hold a press conference until January. He will coach Ohio State in the Orange Bowl against Clemson. With Withers serving on Urban Meyer’s staff, the Buckeyes had won 24 contests in a row before falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.
"A big part of this negotiation (with JMU) was that I had the opportunity to go back and finish coaching those guys," Withers said in an interview with WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg.
Withers, a 26-year coaching veteran, grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and was a defensive back at Appalachian State. He has spent the great majority of his career coaching defense, including 19 years in college Division I and seven in the NFL. His only head-coaching experience came on an interim basis, going 7-6 with North Carolina in 2011.
“I have no doubt that he will be a great leader for our football program and mentor to our student-athletes for many years to come,” athletic director Jeff Bourne said.
Rumblings persist that JMU soon could move from the FCS to the FBS level.
"I just think there's a lot of upside to a great university, and a great football program I think," Withers said.
"I talk with my wife and we say a lot of things, and you know we've been a good soldier for a long, long time in this profession, 25 years. This time of year, we looked for jobs, because we wanted the opportunity."Copyright © 2015, CT Now