Matthews after the Dukes' lone national title
Madison has missed the postseason 4 of the past 5 years
Matthews is the all-time wins leader at JMU
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- After 15 years as the James Madison University football coach, Mickey Matthews has been fired.
Matthews, the most successful coach in program history, leaves Madison with a career record of 109-71.
Matthews, a native Texan, took the reins of the football program in time for the 1999 season, replacing Alex Wood. Wood, a failed experiment lasted only four seasons, logging a career record of 23-22. Matthews made an immediate impact, guiding the Dukes to 8 wins, their first Atlantic 10 co-championship and their first playoff berth since 1994.
Under Matthews, Madison thrived.
2004 marked the Dukes' first football national championship in school history. Three separate times, Matthews was named National Coach of the Year, including the 2008 season when JMU set a school record for wins in a single season with a 12-2 mark, but after falling in the FCS National Semifinals, the demise of the Dukes began.
Since 2008, Madison compiled a 33-25 record, an average of 6.6 wins per season. JMU made just one playoff appearance in five years. On the heels of a $62 million expansion project at Bridgeforth Stadium, the lack of success became too much for Mickey's career as a Duke to survive.
In Matthews' final campaign, Madison struggled to a 6-6 record.
In his last two seasons combined, the Dukes only won two games against teams with winning records. The new standard of winning, which Matthews set, was suddenly a burden to big to bear.
JMU relieved the coach with 37 years of coaching experience of his duties with one year remaining on his contract.
Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne released the following statement:
“I want to thank Coach Matthews for his leadership of our football program and the many contributions he made to the University, our athletics program and specifically our football team over the past 15 years,” said Bourne. “I speak for the entire university community in wishing him and his family the best in their future endeavors.”
Madison will now look nationwide for the next head coach of one of the premier FCS programs in the country.
“With today’s announcement I am also beginning an immediate, national search to identify the ideal person to lead our program,” said Bourne. “We have everything in place, including outstanding facilities, resources and support operations, to regularly compete for a conference championship and post-season play.”
“We will work aggressively but deliberately in this search,“ Bourne concluded. “I look forward to welcoming our next head coach to the university and our outstanding group of student-athletes."
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