Everett Withers Named Head Coach at James Madison

By Kyle Rowland on December 20, 2013 at 6:45p

One day after Everett Withers was reported to be accepting the head coaching position at James Madison, the news is now official. Withers is the Dukes’ sixth head coach in program history.

“We are so thrilled to welcome Coach Withers and his family to James Madison,” James Madison athletic director Jeff Bourne said in a statement. “Everett is a proven winner and has shown his ability to lead, having spent time as a head coach. The entire committee was incredibly impressed when we met with him, and I have no doubt that he will be a great leader for our football program and mentor to our student-athletes for many years to come.”

Withers will stay at Ohio State through the Orange Bowl. He leaves after two seasons as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. During his two years with the Buckeyes, the defense has been a constant source for criticism. The unit bottomed out this season, especially in the secondary, where it allowed almost 260 yards passing per game. Ohio State ranks 104th nationally in pass defense.

But Withers’ coaching past is littered with high marks and respect from his colleagues. He’s regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country and garnered praise from Urban Meyer in February for securing the commitment of five-star safety Vonn Bell.

“I’m happy for Coach Withers, and his family, on his being selected to be head coach at James Madison University,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “Everett is extremely well respected in the coaching profession and I’ve enjoyed having him on our staff. He is a great family man, cares about his players and is an excellent recruiter. I expect that he will be a fine head coach.”

At James Madison, Withers replaces the school’s all-time winningest coach, Mickey Matthews. In 15 seasons, Matthews won 109 games, the 2004 national championship and three conference titles. The Dukes appeared in the FCS playoffs six times during his tenure but only once in his final five seasons.

Matthews’ base salary was $222,000. Withers will reportedly made between $300,000 and $350,000, a significant pay cut from his $585,000 salary at Ohio State.

James Madison recently completed a $62 million stadium expansion to bring the capacity to 25,000. The Dukes added an upper deck, club seating and 17 private suites. The stadium can be further expanded to seat over 40,000. The university did a study in the fall to gauge its viability as a FBS program and is rumored to be eyeing Conference USA or the MAC as a possible landing spot.

“Coach Withers impressed us greatly not only with his experience on the field, but also with his strong commitment to the student-athlete,” James Madison President Jonathan Alger said. “Coach Withers is dedicated to JMU's educational mission and believes that his team's success begins in the classroom.  He and his wife Kara have also emphasized the importance of being active participants in the community. I am confident that Coach Withers, his wife Kara, and their two children Tia and Pierce will be valuable additions to the JMU family and the community at large.”

This will be Withers’ second stint as a head coach. He served as the interim head coach at North Carolina during the 2011 season after Butch Davis was fired. The Tar Heels finished 7-6 and qualified for the Independence Bowl. After North Carolina hired Larry Fedora as Davis’ permanent replacement, Urban Meyer quickly brought Withers to Ohio State.

Withers has coached at the college level for 19 seasons with another seven years of experience in the NFL. Eleven of his 19 years in college have been as a defensive coordinator. He’s coached the defensive backfield for 16 seasons.

During Withers’ four-year stint at North Carolina, he built the Tar Heel defense into one of the nation’s best. In 2008, the team’s 20 intercepted ranked eighth nationally and set a school record. The following season they ranked sixth in total defense, 10th against the run and 14th in pass defense. In 2011, they were 14th against the run.

North Carolina had five defenders taken in the 2011 NFL draft, including first-rounder Robert Quinn.

Withers interviewed at Southern Miss last year, but the job went to Todd Monken.


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fansince1968's picture

Good luck & best wishes Everett!

jeremytwoface's picture


And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of boooooooooze!! And we'll drink to old Ohio 'till we wobble in our shoes.

Killer nuts's picture

Will he be coaching the bowl game with us?

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

Article mentioned he will stay at TOSU through the Orange Bowl.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." -Woody Hayes-

ITWASME's picture

All I want to know is whether or not he will be coaching in our bowl game

Norwalk's picture

That is why they have the "continue reading" button

ITWASME's picture

I read the whole thing I seriously just missed it until I reread it

Condor's picture

Any talk about his replacement?

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev


chicago12's picture

Good luck and best wishes to him.  "Withers will stay at Ohio State through the Orange Bowl."
So, I am assuming he will be coaching in our bowl game.

teddyballgame's picture

In some capacity, yes.  Not necessarily what his regular duties might have been though.

Brutusbuck6115's picture

I believe I read at the James Madison website that he will coach here until after the bowl season.
Good luck Coach Withers

CC's picture

So will Heacock become a "real" coach with the team now?

Crimson's picture

No.  He isn't interested, probably in recruiting.

Hovenaut's picture

Best of luck to Coach Withers, wish him success @ JMU.

AndyVance's picture

Go get'em, Coach. Thank you for your work in landing one of the nation's top recruits, and for your part in 24 magical victories on the field.
Relative to the woes of our defensive performance over the past two seasons, I can't help but wonder how much of the problem was the lack of a defensive "identity," as Ross described it earlier today. Withers clearly found success with his style prior to arriving in Columbus, and Fickell/Heacock's style clearly brought Ohio State plenty of success in the Tressel era... Kind of suggests that having a cohesive strategy is every bit as important as talent and execution (though we certainly had issues there at times, too).
At any rate, good luck at JMU!

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Congrats to Everett Withers on his hiring at JMU. It says a lot about the guy when Urban gives him some praise.
There's a lot of ?'s we all have regarding why our D has not been Silver Bullet like. Is it scheme? Is it the players? Is it the coaching? Who knows, but I'm not the least bit surprised if our D looks better in the Orange Bowl and beyond. As stated, Urban has indicated they are working on it. Between Withers and Fickel, I think Fickel was the recruiter and focus on LBs and Withers was the in game play caller with focus on safeties. There's some speculation that Withers was calling the plays for the secondary while Fick was in charge of LBs and D line play calls. I'd much rather know that there's one DC in charge of in game management with respective coaches in charge of their positions.
If Urbz is gonna hire someone for the D, then I hope we get someone  who runs the D like a boss, man coverage and press with unpredictable blitzes and coverages. If we've got DC who's got a killer instinct, then expect to see The Silver Bullets back.

wpitt41's picture

I cannot imagine 2 different calls coming in.  The LB's have to know their zones or what coverage they drop into based on the overall play call.  
Given how out of place the D looked at times, it could very well be true!


andretolstoy's picture

Great choice for James Madison!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Best of luck. I think we all knew this guy (as well as one or two more on this staff) were destined for a head coaching job. I think he's on his way to a really promising head coaching career with another stop or two along the way.

teddyballgame's picture

I will remember him for bringing us Vonn Bell mostly.  Hope he finds success at JMU.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Cant Blame the man for chasing his dreams. Good luck coach Withers.

igo43's picture

Agreed on both counts, and this is what I love about the coaching community. In most cases, assistant coaches are encouraged to take their professional career to the next level. This is how it should be for every profession.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" - WWH

Maestro's picture

JMU has a legit program.
That being said, I never really liked the Co-DC thing.
Good luck EW.

vacuuming sucks

Mick's picture

Grateful for Coach Wither's time and efforts at tOSU, but business is business. Next man up.

Let them hate, as long as they fear...

ChazBuckeye's picture

Good luck and thanks for the great recruiting.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Brutus's picture

Is it just me or does Withers look like a slightly heavier Bunny Colvin in the photo above: