Was JMU’s Matthews’ hand forced with staff moves?
“Our record this year, 7-4, and being excluded from post-season competition clearly is not our goal. We expect our football team to compete for the CAA Football Championship every year. Further, we expect our football program to reach and advance in the FCS Playoffs annually and be among the final teams in pursuit of a National Championship,” Bourne said in a statement released by the JMU athletics director attached to a press release on the matter of two staff moves announced by Matthews on Friday.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Durden and offensive-line coach Chris Malone were let go. Durden had been on the staff at JMU for nine years, and Malone was in Harrisonburg for six.
“On behalf of everyone at JMU, I want to say thank you for their dedication and numerous contributions to the football program. It is a tough day because they are good friends and excellent football coaches. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors,” Matthews said in a statement Friday.
The Dukes were ranked as high as #2 in the national polls in 2012, but faded down the stretch, dropping two of their last three, including a 38-28 loss to Old Dominion at home that left JMU on the outside looking in as far as a playoff berth was concerned.
Bourne added in his statement on the firings that Matthews “is responsible for all aspects of our program and achieving our expectations for success,” ostensibly to deflect speculation that the moves announced today were not dictated to him from above.
Matthews is 103-65 in 14 seasons at Madison. He led the program to its only national championship in 2004 and an upset win of eventual ACC champion Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2010.