Skip to main content

Update on the James Madison head coaching search

Friday afternoon update> JMU has hired Curt Cignetti. More on the hire here.

Original article Friday AM>

Two schools have won FCS national titles since 2011, and both of those jobs came open when their respective head coaches left for FBS jobs earlier this month. North Dakota State promoted Matt Entz from within after Chris Klieman took the Kansas State job, but James Madison is looking elsewhere after Mike Houston's departure for East Carolina.

Multiple sources have told FootballScoop that James Madison has strong interest in a coach actively working to coach a third FCS national champion in the past eight years, as the school is looking to pursue Maine head coach Joe Harasymiak.

At just 32 years old, Harasymiak has been the head coach at Maine for the past three years, taking a team that went 3-8 in 2015 to an FCS semifinals berth this weekend, the deepest playoff berth in school history.

Obviously, Maine's FCS semifinal berth is a good sign of Harasymiak's coaching ability but a complicating factor for James Madison's pursuit of the Black Bears' head coach. Maine is set to visit Eastern Washington on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and a win would put the Black Bears into their first FCS National Championship, which isn't until Jan. 5.

Another complicating factor: Harasymaik has seen the entirety of his coaching career in New England, and most of it in Maine. A 2008 Springfield College graduate, he jumped into coaching at Maine Maritime Academy, spent two seasons as a GA at his alma mater, then joined the Maine program in 2011 as defensive backs coach, where he climbed the totem pole to defensive coordinator and then head coach.

Given those above factors, James Madison has not put all its eggs into one basket.

Another strong candidate, according to sources, is NC State assistant head coach for offense Des Kitchings. Kitchings has coached NC State's running backs since 2012 and has since added responsibilities as recruiting coordinator and, beginning in 2016, added the title of assistant head coach offense, working with Eli Drinkwitz the offensive coordinator.

Additionally, sources told FootballScoop that Texas wide receivers coach Drew Mehringer also interviewed for the job late this week. Mehringer has spent all but two of his nine seasons in coaching under the wing of Tom Herman, one of those being his 2014 stint as JMU's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Other candidates that sources have mentioned to FootballScoop are Elon head coach Curt Cignetti and Maryland offensive line coach Bryan Stinespring, a former JMU assistant under Houston. Stinespring was interviewed and is considered a candidate who could bring stability to the program. Cignetti is a proven winner showing that at both IUP and now Elon.

Sources indicated JMU would like to move quickly to fill the position, with a hire coming possibly as soon as this weekend.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.