Home JMU fires football coach Mickey Matthews after 15 seasons, national title

JMU fires football coach Mickey Matthews after 15 seasons, national title


JMU will not retain head football coach Mickey Matthews after the Dukes failed to make the FCS playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

jmu-mickey matthewsThat’s how the school’s athletics department termed the firing in a news release on its website Monday morning, in a move that shocked some in JMU Nation, but seemed to be in the offing after another the Dukes dropped four of their final five games in 2013 to fall out of playoff contention.

Matthews was 109-71 overall at JMU, won the national championship in 2004 and had a run of four playoff appearances in five years that ended in 2008, when Madison lost at home in the national semifinals to Montana.

In 2010, Matthews led JMU to perhaps the program’s biggest win in school history, even bigger than the ’04 national title, a 21-16 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

But that 2010 James Madison team failed to reach the playoffs, and the program had a record of just 25-20 following the win over Tech and one playoff appearance, in 2011.

This span came at a sort of wrong time to take a step back in the win-loss department: JMU spent $62.5 million in an expansion of Bridgeforth Stadium that was completed in 2011.

Attendance has gone down steadily since the 2011 grand re-opening. JMU averaged 25,002 fans per game in 2011, 22,783 in 2012 and just 21,011 in 2013.

“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,” JMU athletics director Jeff Bourne said in a statement. “I speak for the entire university community in wishing him and his family the best in their future endeavors.”

Bourne said Monday that the school will begin an immediate national search for a new head coach.

“We have everything in place, including outstanding facilities, resources and support operations, to regularly compete for a conference championship and postseason play,” Bourne said.



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.