Nov 30 / Todd

JMU Seeks 5th Straight Awesome Coach

The Dukes have been through this before and we’ll go through it again. Being a coaching factory is stressful, but it means you’re winning. A lot. But here’s a snapshot of what the last four JMU coaches have done:

Mickey – Built the program, won the first Natty

Withers – modernized recruiting and fundraising; First Gameday

Houston – Won the second Natty. Locked the Gates! Second Gameday

Cignetti – 52-9, 19-4 in FBS transition, Third Gameday

The next coach has a program and a university that’s in an entirely different place than it ever was during any of those previous hiring cycles. So here’s an initial list of candidates, with notes but in no particular order (other than the categories themselves), to win the first official Sun Belt title and take the Dukes to the playoff!

Serious Internal JMU Candidates

These guys should be serious candidates and are potential coaching stars. They would likely stablize the current underclassmen and recruits. Is that worth it long-term if you’re unsure on any of them as the head of the snake? Would they rather be a HC than go for $ w/ CC?
Tino Sunseri – seems like a star candidate, ‘cruitin’, QB whisperer
Bryant Haynes – recruiting and D scheme, would need OC
Mike Shanahan – scheme great, not certain where he is on ‘cruitin’

Legitimate External Candidates

All of these should be taken seriously and have to be on any “long-list.” Question here is can/will JMU afford them and will they take a chance without a boss since Bourne is leaving? JMU offered to make Cignetti the highest paid coach in the Sun Belt and increase the salary pool for assistants. If JMU is serious, that should be enough for most of these guys.

Rich Rodriguez – HC Jax St., enormous track record, recruits this part of the country now
Chuck Martin – HC Miami, Oh – solid prospect, probably a better job but could we
actually pay him more than currently making?
Ja’Juan Seider – PSU RB Coach – absolute beast recruiter in the Franklin mold, should be on all
short lists
Joe Harasymiak – Rutgers DC, former Maine HC – Probably one of our favorite candidates in terms of skill
(we know he can flat-out coach from Maine days), age, and potentially wanting the job
Jerry Mack – Tennessee RB Coach, former North Carolina Central Head Coach – HC experience and
recruiting prowess that took him to Tenn.
Drew Mehringer – Oregon TE Coach – former JMU assistant under Withers, offensive guru,
young, ‘cruitin’

Tony Gibson – NC State DC – Incredibly exciting prospect, does he want to be a HC now?

Josh Gattis – Maryland OC – local recruiter, good coach, is his agent planting his name though?

Manny Diaz – PSU DC – definitely just wants to coach again. Great recruiter, will make Cig’s game mgmt look incredible though.

Trendy FCS Names

Getting players up from FCS with something to prove has been a great plan the last two years. Could it work with a Coach or does it end up like ECU?

Bob Chesney – Holy Cross HC

Clay Hendrix – Furman HC

Willie Simmons – FAMU HC

Fringier External Candidates
Alex Atkins – FSU OC – arguably #1 choice (recruiting, creativity, etc.) but makes way more
already and could be positioned for a bigger job next year.
Jerry Kill – HC New Mexico St., former HC App, poor man’s RichRod, gotta peek under the
hood, obviously has recruited the area and would piss off App sooo much!

Bobby Hauck – Montana HC – proven great coach, baggage

The Lunatic Fringe

Someone will bring them up; they would be shocking for JMU

Dana Holgerson

Both Grudens

Other JMU-ties Candidates

These guys are all going to be mentioned by JMU fans and boosters who know them and have an opinion. We mostly do not share those opinions.

Scott Lemm – HC Bridgewater, successful HC experience, bleeds purple, can he recruit at this level? Could another new guy convince him to come be OC/OLine/etc. first? Lots of other Dukes on his staff now/past

John Miller – JMU RB coach, time at Texas for ‘cruitin’

Justin Rascati – Vikings Assistant OLine, was Chattanooga OC so has been in college

John DeFilippo – USFL New Orleans Breakers HC; has been interested before; never recruited

DeLane Fitzgerald – HC, Southern Utah (FCS), former Frostburg St. HC

Blaine Stewart – Tight Ends Coach, WVU

D.J. Bryant – Penn St. Recruiting Coordinator

Dudzik, Schor, Hawkins are all starting out in the business

Stinespring – Roanoke College HC, for the 100th time, no.

Mike Houston – results speak for themselves, particularly once forced to build a roster

Our Personal and Early Uneducated Favorites

  1. Shanahan and/or Haynes and/or Sunseri
  2. Harisymiak, Gibson, Mack, RichRod


leave a comment
  1. maddukes98 / Nov 30 2023

    ANYONE but Bobby Hauck. He is a scum bag and I’d turn in my Duke Club membership if he’s hired. Sorry but not a good choice.

  2. OBXDuke83 / Nov 30 2023

    A sad day that we knew was a good possibility. I was hoping to keep him through next year with a chance to make the playoffs (something that will not happen at Indiana any time soon). I wish him the best. He was the right guy for the job of moving JMU to FBS.

  3. CJ / Nov 30 2023

    Glad we’re finally talking about this, and looks like you guys were well prepared with your research.

    I take it Cignetti will not be coaching the bowl game? Obviously this is a huge distraction that makes me decidedly less confident about our chances of winning the bowl game ( shades of Houston’s last game at Colgate). Is it safe to assume Cig is probably sitting in Bloomington right now, wearing an IU sweatshirt and smoking a cigar with their AD?

    Meanwhile the JMU coaching carousel continues. Historically (Houston, Withers, even back to Scherer) no coach who left was able to match their JMU success at their next destination. I had hoped that Cig would stick with a good thing and the proven success he had with us. But the cash is always greener elsewhere.

    Moreover, I don’t think Indiana is a great pick. Although they’re Big10, they’ve been bad to mediocre for many years now. Plus, IU is a school ruled by basketball. If Cignetti can turn that program around, then he is truly an elite coach. But again it just looks like the decision to go to IU was purely financial.

    Also…didn’t Cignetti’s post game remarks after Coastal seem to foreshadow that this was coming? Just the way he spoke about how JMU is a great program, etc, seemed to me like a farewell speech. Maybe it’s just me

    Recruiting coaches was a lot easier when we were kings of the FCS. Now it’s a little tougher.

  4. Hart / Dec 1 2023

    You are missing all the former head coaches who are living on huge buyouts but still have a competitive fire.
    Lots of great track records and big names out there.

    No need to hire a guy that needs training wheels.
    So many candidates and so few jobs. Go get the big fish that doesn’t need a huge salary since they already have boatloads of Money.

    Coaches want to win and JMU is poised to be a CFP 12 team contender.
    JMU is a catch.

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