When JMU joined the Sun Belt before the 2022 season, many expected the Dukes to take a couple years to adjust and become truly competitive. Instead, head coach Curt Cignetti led them to an 8-3 record as JMU went 6-2 in conference play, which was tied with Coastal Carolina for the top spot in the Sun Belt East Division.
JMU began the 2023 season 3-0 with wins over Virginia and defending conference champion Troy. If JMU continues winning, Cignetti will probably become a candidate for some Power Five programs.
Here are some teams which could consider hiring him if they decide to go after a new head coach.
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Neal Brown has been the head coach of West Virginia since 2019. The Mountaineers have enjoyed just one winning season since then and began this year 1-1.
If WVU decides to move on, Cignetti would be a logical candidate. He played quarterback there in the early 1980s, and knows the region of the country well.
Jeff Hafley’s win percentage has gotten worse every year he’s been at Boston College. The Eagles went 3-9 last year and started the year 1-2 with a loss to Northern Illinois.
If Boston College decides to go in a different direction, Cignetti would be a good fit. He has a plethora of experience working with the offensive side of the ball, which would surely help after Boston College had the 11th-worst total offense (310.3 yards per game) last year in the FBS.
Dino Babers has been at Syracuse since 2016 but has led the Orange to just two winning seasons since then. They are also 1-1 in bowl games with Babers as their head coach.
Though Babers has seen some success and has been at Syracuse for awhile now, many have wondered how much longer he’ll be there. Cignetti would be in a good position to lead the program if Syracuse wants a new head coach.
Matt Campbell was once a popular candidate to become a head coach at a bigger school or even for an NFL team. He may want to move on soon, especially since the Cyclones’ win percentage has gone down every year since 2020. Iowa State is also 2-3 in bowl games since he became the head coach in 2016 and is 1-2 this season after losing to Ohio in Week 3.
If the Cyclones are in need of a new head coach going into the 2024 season, some high-profile coaches would probably be interested. However, Cignetti should still be a name to consider.
Northwestern is likely going to want a fresh start as a program in the wake of several recent issues. If the Wildcats don’t keep interim head coach David Braun in that role, maybe they look elsewhere for their new head coach.
Cignetti has proven he can lead a program to success in the FBS in a short amount of time. What he’s done at JMU might make Northwestern consider him.