There are reports out that James Madison head coach Mike Houston has accepted the coaching job at FBS Charlotte, though HERO Sports has not been able to confirm this with JMU yet. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted at about 2:30 p.m. ET (Wednesday) that Houston "was expected" to accept the Charlotte offer, citing unnamed sources.
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
If this is true, Houston would be leaving in the middle of the Dukes' playoff run with a 37-5 career record and two national title game appearances. His team is 9-3 going into this weekend's second round game at Colgate. He also was 14-11 and won a Southern Conference title at The Citadel prior to JMU.
Houston is a North Carolina native and has maintained strong recruiting ties in the Tar Heel state. There were some thoughts that Houston may be mentioned as at least a candidate for the North Carolina opening, but UNC went with former head coach Mack Brown.
Last year, Houston turned down an offer from Georgia Southern.
HERO Sports will continue to update this story information comes available.
[divider]6:50 P.M. (ET) UPDATE: From Kevin Warner, Assistant AD for Communications
"We are aware that Mike Houston has been offered the head coaching job at Charlotte and that he addressed the offer with local media after Wednesday’s practice. At this point he has not accepted the offer. We expect Mike to coach JMU on Saturday at Colgate."
[divider]6:40 P.M. (ET) UPDATE: The Breeze, JMU's student paper, posted the entire Houston statement video on Twitter (see below)
Statement today from JMU head coach Mike Houston on his connection to the Charlotte head coaching gig: pic.twitter.com/aXVZ4tguIy
— Breeze Sports (@TheBreezeSports) November 28, 2018
[divider]6 P.M. (ET) UPDATE: Greg Madia of the DNR is at practice and Tweeted this
JMU coach Mike Houston made a statement and said he has been offered the job by Charlotte. He said he is interested in the job but didn't say whether or not he took the job. Said his focus is on Colgate.
— Greg Madia (@Madia_DNRSports) November 28, 2018
[divider]5 P.M. (ET) UPDATE
MAC'S TAKE: I've reached out to Kevin Warner, the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at James Madison, a gentleman who has always been great to work with in the past for us at HERO Sports, and I've also reached out via text message to Coach Houston and as of 5 p.m. ET I haven't heard back from them. This is to be expected, obviously. Most schools who are losing their coach aren't going to have a whole lot of answers in these situations early on. And who knows? Maybe Coach hasn't formally accepted the deal. Either way, I have not been able to confirm this news via the James Madison route, while Feldman's sources are obviously of the FBS variety.
I will add this, from as fine a FCS beat writer as there is in the country — Greg Madia of the Daily News-Record is reporting in the past hour that Houston will be available to reporters after practice today, per Warner.
So now for the fan reaction, which is already pretty loud on social media — which is to be expected. So why would Houston take a job with a 5-7 Charlotte program that his JMU program would likely beat? Well, could it possibly have anything to do with the recent news out of Chapel Hill? Houston has gone 37-5 at James Madison in less than three seasons, beaten the tar out of a G5 team (East Carolina) and went toe-to-toe with a P5 team (N.C. State) a year later, and didn't get a sniff for UNC's open position?
Maybe it dawned on Houston recently that though James Madison is a stellar FCS power that could beat many G5 teams and even some P5s in any given year, he's still not going to get the respect needed to make the leap to an ACC type job. Maybe it hit him that he needs a stop like Scott Satterfield or Neal Brown are having at Appalachian State and Troy respectively, or maybe the same kind of stop Scott Frost had at UCF, or P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan, or Justin Fuente at Memphis, right? Quick, successful G5 stops that lead to the big P5 jobs. Maybe that's the last step P5 programs are saying they want to see?
Last December coach Houston was pretty candid with me when asked about the Georgia Southern offer he turned down. He said it wasn't the right time, the right fit, but if that opportunity came along one day, he'd consider it. Yes he had a new 10-year contract, but he never said he wouldn't consider other offers. Charlotte is in his home state, Statesboro, Ga. isn't. Obviously we're all speculating at this point, but Houston loves North Carolina and he sure knows how to recruit it.
And as for the timing that the fans are mad about? Hey, when is a good time, really? Yes the Dukes are in the playoffs and in the middle of a massive recruiting haul, but many teams are in bowl prep or even prepping for the national championship game when a coaching change happens. I'm pretty certain Trott and Kirkpatrick and the boys can get the job done.
We'll continue to chase this story …