It’s a tricky proposition for a school to hire a sitting head coach, and that trickiness increases by a factor of 10,000 any time the head coach is in the middle of a playoff run with his current team. Such is the case at Charlotte, where the 49ers’ pursuit of James Madison head coach Mike Houston is now out of the bag — and there’s no getting it back inside.
On Wednesday afternoon, The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman reported Houston was expected to accept Charlotte’s offer.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 28, 2018
And then a few hours passed. And then a few more. After JMU’s practice on Wednesday, Houston addressed the situation with reporters.
“I was contacted on Sunday by Charlotte 49ers athletic director Mike Hill,” Houston told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We had a great conversation. I listened to him. I talked to him again on Tuesday. I told him I was interested in the job. Doesn’t have anything to do with JMU.
“I have been blessed to have the opportunity to be the head coach here. I am still the head coach here.”
Statement today from JMU head coach Mike Houston on his connection to the Charlotte head coaching gig: pic.twitter.com/aXVZ4tguIy
— Breeze Sports (@TheBreezeSports) November 28, 2018
Houston acknowledged his interest in the job — particularly that Charlotte’s location is two and a half hours from his family (Houston grew up in Franklin, N.C.) — but added, “The facts are I’ve been offered a job. That’s it.”
James Madison statement: We are aware that Mike Houston has been offered the head coaching job at Charlotte and that he addressed the offer with local media after Wednesday’s practice. At this point he has not accepted the offer. We expect Mike to coach JMU on Saturday at Colgate
— Craig Haley (@CraigHaley) November 29, 2018
James Madison visits Colgate on Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs. Win that, and a trip to the Fargodome to play No. 1 North Dakota State likely waits.
But there’s a chance this drags on until the FCS National Championship, all the way out until Jan. 5. It’s a remote chance, sure, given the Dukes are on North Dakota State’s side of the bracket, but this is the only program other than NDSU to win an FCS crown since 2011.
Even if James Madison does make an unlikely run to the title game, that still wouldn’t preclude Charlotte from hiring him.
Remember, Craig Bohl accepted the Wyoming job in the middle of North Dakota State’s 2013 playoff run. Bohl led NDSU to a second-round playoff win on a Saturday, was announced as Wyoming’s new coach a day later, remained on to lead the Bison to that season’s title, left for Wyoming after the title run and everyone went home happy.
So, there’s nothing here to suggest that Houston can’t become the next Charlotte coach, or even that he won’t. It’s just… tricky.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Thursday AM Update> East Carolina has fired Scottie Montgomery. Today. Sources tell FootballScoop part of the reasoning is to go after Houston. Stay tuned…
Thursday PM Update> Hello…
Sources indicating that East Carolina is targeting JMU's Mike Houston for its head coaching job. He has told media in Virginia he's been offered Charlotte. A fascinating stare down is happening.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 29, 2018