Newsome Returning To JMU?

Assistant Coaches Might Be On The Way Out At Tech

Posted: December 31, 2012

HARRISONBURG — There’s a good chance football coach Curt Newsome will be returning to James Madison, where he earned a reputation as an effective recruiter in talent-rich Hampton Roads during a seven-year stint.

A source said Sunday that Newsome, now the offensive centers and guards coach at Virginia Tech, likely will be offered a job as a JMU assistant, presumably taking over as offensive line coach. He would replace former Tech standout Chris Malone, who was fired this month.

After a 7-6 season, Virginia Tech is expected to shake up its offensive coaching staff soon, and Newsome has been mentioned in media reports as one of the assistants who might be on the chopping block. The Hokies narrowly beat Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday, once again struggling on offense.

Newsome could not be reached for comment Sunday night, and JMU coach Mickey Matthews declined to comment on his former assistant.

Matthews also would not comment on a report that another current Tech assistant might be a candidate for the prize job opening on the Dukes’ staff: offensive coordinator.

Kyle Bailey, a Southwest Virginia sports radio host, tweeted Sunday that a source told him that Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain is a “potential candidate” to become the Dukes’ offensive coordinator.

As of Sunday, there has been no communication between O’Cain and JMU, a source said.

O’Cain has been at Virginia Tech since 2006 following a four-year stint as an assistant at Clemson, his alma mater, where he served as the offensive coordinator in 2004. The 58-year-old was the head coach at North Carolina State from 1993-99.

His selection would surprise many observers because Matthews has said he intends to build a new pass-friendly offense around rising sophomore quarterback Michael Birdsong in 2013. The Hokies’ offense has been criticized in recent years for lacking the explosiveness so prevalent in college football today. And, although O’Cain hasn’t been in charge of Tech’s offense, quarterback Logan Thomas did not have a standout junior season.

This month, Matthews fired his longtime offensive coordinator, Jeff Durden, after the Dukes sputtered on offense en route to a 7-4 record. They missed the Division I-AA playoffs for the third time in four years.

Newsome spent seven seasons at JMU from 1999-2005 before leaving for Blacksburg. During his stint at Madison, the 54-year-old Hampton native coached defensive line, tight ends and offensive line, taking over the O-line in 2003. From 2003-05, he served as Matthews’ assistant head coach.

Matthews hired Newsome from the prep ranks. Previously, Newsome was head coach at Heritage High School in 1998 and at Kecoughtan from 1987-97.

Newsome was on the staff when the Dukes won the Division I-AA national title in 2004.

JMU also is expected to hire a defensive assistant soon. The Dukes haven’t had a cornerbacks coach since Mark Hendricks left last summer. Safeties coach Tony LeZotte coached the secondary this season and he is likely to continue in that role in 2013.  

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