#CoachesCorner: Former FCS coach shares the two ideas he sold his team on that led to a major upset of Power Five program

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Today’s #CoachesCorner is from former James Madison (FCS – VA) head coach and college coaching veteran Mickey Matthews. Coach Matthews is a three-time National Coach of the Year who helped two programs win national championships. As head coach at James Madison, Matthews won the 2004 FCS National Championship. In 15 seasons as head coach at JMU, Matthews’ teams won 109 games. After serving as defensive coordinator at the FBS level for two seasons, Matthews most recently coached linebackers for the Dallas Renegades of the XFL.

A game pitting an FCS program vs an FBS program is always interesting.

While I was at JMU our staff did a study and we determined that there was a 5% chance of a FCS victory, and that number was actually lower some years. The games were always fun for the players though. These "guarantee" games are the only way FCS programs have access to the vast money coffers many FBS programs possess. The money really enhances many FCS athletic programs.

I'll say this - FCS / FBS games instigate many lively discussions among fans and coaches. Everyone has an opinion. I was always amused at one huge fact. Of our 60 players involved in those games, our opponent did not offer, or in many cases even recruit, ANY of them. We would have signed any of their 60 players out of high school.

Our fan base not only expected us to compete with them but even defeat them. I always thought it was quite comical.

The year we defeated Virginia Tech I sold our players on two principles. Sure, their top 60 players were superior to our top 60. However, when they only had 11 on the field at a time we could, and would compete with them. The second idea I sold our kids on was that we were living in the 85/25 limited recruiting world. Years ago before the 85/25 scholarship ceiling was instituted many of our top players would be on the Virginia Tech sideline.

Our players needed confidence and these two ideas seemed to work. I guess it did!

That game coach Matthews is referring to? Back in 2010 coach Matthews and his James Madison team went to Virginia Tech and beat the #13 ranked Hokies 21-16.