Dec 13 / Todd

Head Coach Mike Houston Signs 10-Year Deal

Christmas came early! Or you might say, on its first night, Hanukkah showed us it ain’t playin’ in 2017! Because JMU’s newly beloved Head Ball Coach Mike Houston signed a 10-year extension that “keeps” him at JMU through 2027. You’ve probably read the news story already or you can read it here but just a few thoughts.

  • Yes, a bigger school can still buy him out. But it’s pretty clear when Houston said JMU was the best “non-P5” job in America, he wasn’t kidding. With this move, he took all but the cream of the G5 crop out of the mix. In other words, he ain’t going to Texas State or Louisiana-Lafeyette or ODU. And yes, 5 or 10 years of success and bonuses at JMU probably work out financially in Houston’s favor compared to 3 years and a pink slip at UTEP.
  • If he gets bought out Tressel-from-YSU-to-tOSU style by a Power 5 program, that will clearly be based on his sustained success, which means we’ll all be very happy Dukes by that time and say thank you!
  • Needless to say, with National Signing Day a week away, this should be a huge boost in recruiting immediately by taking all the Bobby Wilder/Scottie Montgomery/Rich Huesman/Danny Rocco horsecrap talking points about “Houston’s outta there” way way way off the table.
  • 10 years is an enormous commitment from both sides and JMU’s vision is to be applauded. First and foremost AD Jeff Bourne, but even Charlie Kind and Jon Alger. This type of thing is way out of the norm for JMU’s traditional operations and credit where due to the leadership team for thinking creatively about how to keep a great asset to the university. On a governance and execution note, it also should not go without saying that doing something so unusual (for any Virginia public school) probably required some serious backchannel (and maybe even closed session) work with the Board of Visitors. That alone is a heavy lift and solid work. But the fact that all of those conversations had to have been taking place over some period of time and then the announcement came basically out of the ether is a credit to the process as well.
  • Don’t yell at us, but seriously, 10 years also allows for a couple tough years along the way, like say when JMU is transitioning to FBS. Just sayin’.
  • Finally, here’s Houston’s quote: “James Madison is a special place. Amanda, our boys and I want to be here and consider this home,” Houston said. “JMU approached me in in the second half of the regular season to discuss an extended contract. During negotiations, there was significant interest from multiple FBS programs. Throughout the process, JMU was proactive in wanting to make a long-term commitment while ensuring that our staff could remain intact. I’ve turned down opportunities at the FBS level, and I did it because I believe in James Madison University.  I believe in the leadership of Jeff Bourne, Senior Vice President Charlie King and President Jonathan Alger. I believe in their vision for our university and our athletics programs.  I also believe in our student-athletes, everyone in athletics who supports us and the passionate fan base that cheers for us. I am committed to ensuring that the JMU football program is one that is a reflection of our outstanding institution.  I’m committed to staying here because JMU is different.” We’d heard from some Valley friends that are friends with the Houstons that in their opinion he and his family were legit about loving the area, and with a quote like that, we’re just going to take the man at face value, something that is just so refreshing in a cynical, skeptical college sports landscape.

Now let’s all get ready to ROOT on Saturday!


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  1. OBXDuke1983 / Dec 13 2017

    Wow. That is amazing. I am so excited for the present and for the future of JMU football.
    Go Dukes!

  2. RB / Dec 13 2017

    Todd, great points on the timing and the backroom dealings that had to take place in order to make this happen. A monumental effort by JMU, all should be commended for making the commitment and for Coach Houston articulating this is where he wants to be.

    Although I’d hate every step of the process, you may also have a valid point about the length of this deal and the jump to FBS. I hope it never, ever happens, but sure sounds like the school wants Houston to take the program to that level.

    Of course it will likely wind up tarnishing his incredible win percentage a bit when the Dukes struggle in mediocrity at a higher level and become the equivalent of JMU basketball marked by decades of irrelevancy. Better to stay in FCS and remain a perennial power than to be another App State, Ga Southern, etc.

    But let’s leave that for another time and be thrilled in the commitments made by Coach and the school. A refreshing alternative to the predictable circus of coaching changes that happen at this time of year.

  3. Daddy Q / Dec 14 2017

    Yes! 🙂

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