Dec 13 / Rob

Baseless, Irresponsible, and Probably Incorrect Speculation About Coaching Candidates

JMU-Villanova FTBThe official job requisition for the JMU Head Coach position closed this week. Without a firm understanding of the great state of Virginia’ employment laws, I really have no idea what that means or how close we are to finding out who the next coach of the JMU Dukes will be. However, it certainly seems as if it’s an appropriate time for some baseless speculation about who will get the job. So we’re going to throw a few names out there for guys we believe are in the mix. We invite you to do the same in the comments.

Keep in mind, neither Todd nor I know anything or have any inside knowledge whatsoever. None. You’d think our complete ignorance would be evident to anyone who’s ever read this thing, but we still consistently field questions from folks asking us for the inside scoop. We don’t have it. We do have incredibly outsized egos and opinions when it comes to JMU sports however. So there’s that. Without further ado, here is a list of guys we think could be (or should be) in the running for the JMU job.

John DeFilippo

Flip (we’re going to call him Flip, OK?) is a JMU alum and former QB for the Dukes who is currently serving as the QB Coach for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Prior to his current assignment in Oakland, he was on the staff at San Jose State where he coached QBs and was the offensive coordinator. The positives here are that he’s a relatively young guy with some bright offensive ideas. This year he’s been able to work with a revolving door of less than stellar QBs and actually coach them up to play decent football. He could probably do big things with a guy like Michael Birdsong. He’s also an alum, which leads us to assume he’d come pre-installed with plenty of passion for JMU. The downside is his limited experience in college, particularly regarding recruiting. Assembling a solid staff of assistants could easily address that however.

Rod Smith

Smith is the co-offensive coordinator for the University of Arizona Wildcats. He also coaches the QBs. He’s followed head coach Rich Rodriguez to Arizona after working with him at both Michigan and West Virginia. Prior to hitching up with Rich Rod, he ran the offense at South Florida, after spending some time coordinating the passing game and coaching the QBs. If you want a guy who can run an exciting offensive based program, he’s probably your guy. Rich Rod might not be known for his loyalty or sound decision making when it comes to career planning, but he and his coaching tree can put together an offense. Like Flip, Smith is relatively young. He has more experience running a unit and recruiting though.

Eric Taylor

Less is known about Taylor than some of the other candidates. He is currently coaching at an un-named high school in Pennsylvania. He has previous successful stints coaching at the highest levels of high school football in the state of Texas and a brief stint as the QB coach at TMU. Despite winning a state championship with the Dillon Panthers, he was controversy ousted from the job. He then took control of the historically awful East Dillon and proceeded to rebuild the program and lead the Lions to a state championship of their own. Despite his limited college experience, he can seemingly turn any QB into a champion (I mean, let’s face it, we all like Matt Saracen, but the kid couldn’t throw a lick). He’s probably the ultimate players’ coach and he has particular talent for getting the most out of kids with home life issues.

Dino Babers

Babers is currently coaching Eastern Illinois during its run through the FCS playoffs. He’s a bit older than the coaches above, but has experience running a college program. He turned Eastern Illinois from an also-ran, into a legitimate FCS power. His resume reads like that of a coaching lifer, and it includes plenty of jobs at BCS level programs including Baylor, Arizona, UCLA, and Texas A&M. He was rumored to be in the running for the job at Eastern Michigan, which ended up going to Chris Creighton (great hire btw). As a guy who was able to make an immediate impact in his first head coaching stint, he’s a hot name. Fans are probably drooling at the thought of what he could with resources like those that would be available to him at JMU. It’s unclear if he’d be willing to jump to another FCS program though, regardless of resources of a potential FBS move down the road.

Stinespring/Beamer/VA Tech Assistant TBD

These Bryan Stinespring and Shane Beamer rumors have produced a less than enthusiastic response from most JMU fans. I don’t necessarily think that hiring either guy would mean doom and gloom for the Dukes. Beamer in particular has a wealth of successful recruiting experience in Virginia and would probably be a more attractive candidate if he was coming from some program other than Virginia Tech. He’s never even been a coordinator though. And he’s a Hokie. While acknowledging that JMU and VT are not rivals in any real sense (we beat them handily in their own house), opting to hire a guy from the Hokie staff would feel like settling to a lot of JMU fans. Whether that’s legitimate or just some sort of inferiority complex, I tend to agree. As far as Stinespring goes, most of my VT friends are extremely enthusiastic supporters of his candidacy for the JMU job. That should tell you something.


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  1. 2004 Duke / Dec 13 2013

    Another outstanding writeup.

    “While acknowledging that JMU and VT are not rivals in any real sense (we beat them handily in their own house),” #burn

  2. 2004 Duke / Dec 13 2013

    Although I personally think that JMU should offer Steve Logan all the money available in the budget, I must say that Coach Flip is growing on me. When he was first thrown out there, I thought it was a horrible idea. But the more I’ve thought about it… a young coach with lots of good energy who has a reputation of being close with his players (and in his case bleeds purple) would be a really good fit. This isn’t ment to be a knock on MM, but I think that since we have already comitted to changing direction, we need to actually change the direction- i.e. get a young energetic coach who inspires his players, motivates alumni and plays modern college football (scores offensive points).

    College football is made up of three main elements:
    1. Recruiting
    2. Donations
    3. Winning

    They are all directly related. Let the OC and DC worry about X’s and O’s. The head coach needs to play the politics game. That means getting the media on his side, making the alumni want to meet him, and motivate the fan base and players. Positive press = More alumni giving = better recruiting = more wins = more positive press (repeat cycle). That is a big reason why we are looking for a coach right now in the first place.

  3. Rob / Dec 13 2013

    I’m getting more enthusiastic about Flip as well. I think he or Smith would both energize the program and do quite well, provided of course that they assemble good staffs to surround them, as you alluded to. I also think that even with his lack of college recruiting experience, his NFL pedigree would help Flip close with a lot of players.

    O’Cain is supposedly in the mix. He did well this year running the offense and is supposedly well liked by the players, but I think JMU needs a clean break from the past and fresh start.

  4. MB / Dec 13 2013

    I usually don’t do threat type comments, but I swear I am thinking that if Shane B. gets hired by JMU I will not renew my tickets. Which is weird because I usually go with the flow and never have these type thoughts. That is the way I feel though. Can’t help it. I am hoping that there is no way he would leave that job at VT because it wouldn’t make sense to do that. Unless he has been told he needs some head coaching experience…I guess we will find out soon enough. Not thrilled about the other VT dude either.

  5. 2004 Duke / Dec 13 2013

    I agree with MB. I don’t want any VT coaches.

    I could be ok with O’Cain. I still think of him as the head coach at NC State, not as a VT assistant. I don’t think he would be the energetic cheerleader type, though. He is more the stoic CEO kind of coach. O’Cain would probably be the “safe” option, because he will get you probably 8-4ish. I would not expect a Armanti-Edwards-AppSt or NDSU type powerhouse from a Mike O’Cain team.

    Taking a chance on a young coach could get you that dynasty…. or it could blow up in our faces. Jeff Borne has a tough decision to make.

  6. Just Sayin' / Dec 13 2013

    While I have never been very enamored with Tech’s offense, I find these Beamer comments interesting. As if we wouldn’t kill to have the type of program that Tech has had over the last 20 years?

    I know Shane Beamer hasn’t been at Tech all of those years, but he was a successful recruiter and asst. coach in the SEC.

    Sometimes I fear the expectations that seem to now surround our program. I guess it’s okay to dream though…

  7. Shadow / Dec 13 2013


    James Madison: Last night Matthew Stoss of the Daily News-Record tweeted that John DeFilippo (Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach), Mike O’Cain (JMU offensive coordinator), and Rod Smith (Arizona co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach) are among the finalists for the head coaching job. We’ve reached out to a few guys and the feedback that we’re getting is that DeFilippo has the best shot at this point.

    I like 2004 Duke’s choice of Steve Logan. He did a hell of job at ECU. But, he’s about the same age as Mickey & O’Cain. So, I don’t know.
    Another “old” guy I like is Jeff Bower from USM (C-USA coach of the decade). Again, same age as Mickey & O’Cain, & he’s a solid coach & well liked guy.

    But, I can buy into this Coach “Flip” thing if he brings some of that Raider “Just win baby!” mentality with him.

  8. Rob / Dec 13 2013

    @Just Sayin’ I fully acknowledged that the resistance to VT coaches might be due to some sort of inferiority complex on the part of some JMU fans. Personally, I simply don’t think he’s ready to be a head coach. If he’d been a coordinator at one of his stops along the way, I’d probably feel differently. Without experience running a unit and developing gameplans though, I’d rather JMU not hand him over the keys to the program.

    Now I might be OK with JMU giving him a shot as a coordinator under the right head coach, but that’s a different conversation.

  9. JT2001 / Dec 13 2013

    Clear eyes full hearts

  10. Cory / Dec 13 2013

    Great FNL references guys. Love it.

  11. Cory / Dec 13 2013

    The little insider information I have is that Flip went by Flip in college but I suppose we all grow out of college nicknames eventually. 2004Duke is right about the head coaching position. Even at the little league and high school levels the head coach has a hard time being the OC or DC and the HC at the same time. No idea how they manage it at the FBS level (from now on I’m going to refer to JMU as a FBS team because I think its inevitable unfortunately). Don’t see Shane B leaving his pop’s side and not a real big fan to the Rich Rod system which is what we’d most likely get from Rod Smith. Flip is my guy but I’m very biased.

  12. Cory / Dec 13 2013

    Another Stoss tweet: Dave Clawson, whose team is playing for the MAC title tonight against Northern Illinois, is one of DeFilippo’s mentors.

  13. Tedward / Dec 14 2013

    The Towson coach

  14. Mr. G / Dec 14 2013

    Flip is intriguing, but he was part of the Alex Wood disaster if memory serves me right. No confidence in the Athletic Administration making any good decision based on the history of Bourne’s hires in the past for Men’s Basketball. Watching the North Dakota State romp over Coastal Carolina reinforces the old saying, defense wins championships. We need not forget that.

  15. Walter harold / Dec 14 2013

    There’s know way that Chris Beatty is not on this list. The most important thing in this coaching search is the new guys ability to recruit the state of VA. If he cannot do that mickeys firing is in vain. So if you look at the resume of these guys they cannot and will not compete with UVA, VT,ODU,etc …… Chris Beatty has the 757,804 on lock when it comes to recruiting. He’s our man

  16. RB / Dec 15 2013

    Rich Ellerson just fired by Army — good candidate to take a look at due to his success at Cal-Poly

  17. 2004 Duke / Dec 16 2013

    I could consider Ellerson. I don’t hold his lack of success at Army against him… because it’s Army. Nick Saban would suck at Army. How old is he, though? I thought he was older…

  18. Shady_P / Dec 16 2013

    JMU needs to get a new coach hired THIS WEEK. This process should not drag into Christmas week.

    At this point sooner is better and each day at this point is critical for this year’s recruiting class and the assembly of a quality coaching staff.

  19. Mr. G / Dec 16 2013

    I totally agree with Shady_P. The Athletic Administration has allowed this to drag on too long, but, unfortunately, the AD always seems to be a day late and a dollar short. Wake Forrest lost their coach on Dec. 2, and hired the replacement on Dec. 8. Let’s hope that something changes, and they get on the ball with the hiring!

  20. Shady_P / Dec 16 2013

    I like that the firing of MM was done immediately.

    After that JMU, for whatever the reason (unlike VT and UVA) has to play by the state’s rules and post the position for 2 weeks (which does not make sense – seems like an exception should be made for football head coach – how many legit candidates are out there that would want the job and that JMU would also want).

    So by not being able to shortcut that process mandated by the State… JMU must buckle down and get it done this week. If it is not done this week then the holdup will fall back on Bourne/King/Alger.

  21. Jay Deck / Dec 16 2013

    I agree with Shady P. We need to get moving because of the recruiting of players and the program. Glad we will have a change at Head Coach and time is everything!

  22. Mr. G / Dec 16 2013

    Augusta Free Press refers to the coaching search at JMU as “bungled.”

  23. EC / Dec 16 2013

    Is it possible that the delay in the announcement is actually due to what the new guy is doing in his current job and not because we “bungled”? (I have no insider knowledge and admit to not knowing enough about the process to know if this scenario is even possible.)

  24. 2004 Duke / Dec 17 2013

    I agree with Shady- We need to get a move on it.

    EC also brings up a good point, though. If they have someone in mind who is still playing, you wouldn’t want to say anything yet.

    The double standard with regard to Tech and UVA is disgusting. Just like the “exception” for every-single FBS school with indian mascots, while ALL the non-FBS schools were forced by the NCAA to change.

  25. Shady_P / Dec 17 2013

    Mr G ~~ I am not going to put too much into an article produced from the Augusta Free Press and Breeze resources. Sounds like to me they are just trying to stir the pot. I have not spoken to a single Alum who had any issue with MM being shown the door. Maybe a small group of close friends, etc may have taken exception to MM being fired but to most it was like a breathe of fresh air.

    I agree with 2004 ~ The FBS double standard that is shown to UVA and VT is ridiculous. They get to waive the 2 week posting period because they are ‘big time’. Well perhaps given the debacle Mike London has created at UVA they should have paused and taken advantage of the 2 weeks…..they are AWFUL!!

  26. 2004 Duke / Dec 17 2013

    I just want to share the following announcement with the JMUSB Nation:

    When I win the lottery tonight, I’m going to make a big donation to ODU and make them rename the stadium “Foreman Field at JAMES MADISON DUKES’ STADIUM”.

  27. Shadow / Dec 17 2013


    (from below)

    James Madison: Sources tell us that both George Barlow (Vanderbilt defensive backs) and Brian Stinespring (Virginia Tech tight ends / recruiting coordinator) interviewed today for the job. Based on what we’re hearing, we’d look for a new head coach to be in place by the end of the week.

    BTW…WhoTF is George Barlow???

  28. Shadow / Dec 17 2013

    OMG…I know who Coach Barlow is!
    I should’ve remembered his name!!!
    He’s spent a long time coaching at JMU!
    He’s defensive resume is SOLID.
    I wonder why he wasn’t on the blog radar as one of the front runners???

  29. Mr. G / Dec 17 2013

    Shadow, you are on point, as Barlow is strong defensively. I suspect he may not have been on the radar is because he coached under coach Matthews. with similar styles as Mickey. He very well may be a strong candidate.

  30. Rob / Dec 18 2013

    Yeah, Barlow appears to have emerged as one of the front runners. I didn’t even know he was on the radar when I wrote this post last week. Now that I’ve read about him, I think he’d actually be a great hire. He did a nice job at JMU and has made a impact at Vandy. He could be a very good head coach.

  31. 2004 Duke / Dec 18 2013

    George Barlow was the Defensive Coordinator while I was playing at JMU. At some point (after I graduated) he left to go to Oklahoma (I think), and then got his first head coaching job at New Mexico. Kyle Gillenwater took over as D/C after Barlow left.

    The New Mexico thing did not work out well. I think they were 0-11. That’s how he ended up at Vanderbilt.

    To be fair, New Mexico’s football program is a train wreck.

  32. Rob / Dec 18 2013

    Actually, Barlow was made interim head coach at New Mexico after 4 games when New Mexico fired its coach. It’s just further evidence to support your assertion that he doesn’t deserve blame or criticism for New Mexico’s poor record in his time.

  33. Mr. G / Dec 18 2013

    Rob, you are correct, he was appointed interim in a situation that was not good, and came through as the classy person he is. I think he would be a strong candidate, but cannot help but wonder if it will be held against him since he was part of Mickey’s staff for many years. With AD Bourne, you really have no clue what he wants, and it often seems he has no clue as to what he wants. If they want zero ties to the Mickey regime, then I don’t see Barlow standing much of a chance. Sometimes it just seems that decisions within JMU athletics are made depending upon which way the wind is blowing in the valley!

  34. Shady_P / Dec 18 2013

    If they wanted zero ties with Mickey, not even sure why they would interview someone like Barlow or OCain. But like you said who knows what is going on with the JMU Admin.

  35. Mr. G / Dec 18 2013

    Shady_P: One would agree that you wouldn’t waste any time with interviewing those people with ties to Mickey if they want a zero tie and new direction. I just think we have the wrong person in charge of making a decision like this. Not even sure why Bourne hired Carr, as Carr is the company that recommended Dean Keener to Bourne, and we see how far that put the basketball program in the hole. It will be interesting.

  36. 2004 Duke / Dec 19 2013

    Well, if we can’t find a good candidate, we may as well consider people with ties to the MM regime.

    Better than Shane Beamer.

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