It was déjà vu in the world of FCS football on Wednesday. Rumors that Charlotte is heavily interested in James Madison head coach Mike Houston quickly turned into a Bruce Feldman tweet that reported Houston is expected to become the next head coach for the 49ers.
It took a few hours, but JMU and Mike Houston offered a statement, which can be read and heard here.
The three places that this was talked and posted about the most were Charlotte, N.C., Harrisonburg, VA, and Fargo, N.D.
That's because the whole situation and social media reaction today was almost the exact same as five years ago when Feldman broke the news on Twitter that North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl will be the new head coach at Wyoming.
The similarities are striking:
PODCAST: Reacting To The Mike Houston News
JMU is coming off a win in the first round of the FCS playoffs and is looking to knock off No. 8 seed Colgate on Saturday.
The Bison were coming off a second-round win on Dec. 7, 2013, when rumors started to fly that night about Bohl taking the Wyoming job. It took until the next day for it to be confirmed by both NDSU and the Cowboys.
The uncertainty hung over NDSU's fan base for hours that night, like it did today with JMU. Bohl appeared on his television show the next morning and didn't do much to clear things up. He said coaching changes are never easy, but the No. 1 focus right now is on the 2013 NDSU Bison.
Houston addressed the media today and made a two-minute statement without taking questions and only clarifying small details. All he said was he's been offered the job and is interested in the job, but that's it. He also mentioned his current team is important to him and the focus is on beating Colgate.
Most Bison fans had no idea why Bohl would leave a program that won the previous two FCS national championships and was the favorite to three-peat that season for a low-level FBS team.
The same can be said for Houston and Charlotte.
Bohl twice interviewed for the Minnesota head coaching job while at NDSU. The Gophers always went with the sexier name or bigger splash for a hire. The thought after the smoke cleared and Bohl left for Wyoming was that Bohl realized if he ever wanted to be a head coach at a Power 5 school, making the jump straight from the FCS is incredibly hard to do.
Houston might have realized this as well. Ever since he led the Dukes to the 2016 national title in his first year as head coach, a lot of media and fans looked at the North Carolina job as one Houston will jump all over as a native of the state. When UNC had a job opening recently, then quickly hired Mack Brown, a guy who hasn't coached in a number of years, it's possible Houston knew he needed one more stop before making it to the top.
The social media reaction was identical.
Is it or isn't it true? There was a mix of anger, confusion and appreciation for what the coaches have done for the program.
People questioned how could they do this in the middle of a playoff run. People said this is a lateral move. People said they will regret this in a few years. People said this team is now on a mission to win a national championship.
But now, we will see where this story goes from here with JMU and Houston and how it compares to NDSU.
When Bohl was officially announced as Wyoming's next head coach, the NDSU captains/seniors had a meeting with athletic director Gene Taylor and decided they wanted to finish the season with their head coach. The Bison defeated Coastal Carolina days later 48-14 in the quarterfinals, then New Hampshire 52-14 in the semifinals and Towson 35-7 in the national title game.
The difference this time around is if Houston accepts the Charlotte job, can he finish this season with the Dukes?
In 2013, there was no early signing period. Bohl was able to shore up his Wyoming recruiting class with a couple of months to work with while still doing his duties as NDSU's head coach. Now, there's signing day on Dec. 19.
The Dukes play at No. 8 Colgate on Saturday. A win, and it's ironically a trip to No. 1 NDSU on Dec. 7 or 8 in the quarterfinals. The semifinals are Dec. 14-15 and the championship is Jan. 5.
While absolutely nothing is confirmed, the assumption is Houston is going to take the Charlotte job, but wants to keep coaching JMU until the Dukes lose.
But can he really keep coaching this team for as long as possible while still filling out his Charlotte coaching staff and reaching out to every single Charlotte recruit to say if their offer is still on the table? What about if some of his JMU recruits want to follow Houston to his new school? That's quite the conflict of interest.
We really don't know where this situation goes from here. Up to this point, it's been similar to NDSU's and Bohl's. But now it's completely different. Will he or won't he accept the job? If he does, when will it be official? And if/when he does, where does that leave the 2018 Dukes if there are games to be played?
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