Mickey & Mumme?
Posted: January 17, 2013
HARRISONBURG — James Madison football coach Mickey Matthews and Hal Mumme first met when they were assistant coaches at West Texas State, now West Texas A&M, in the early 1980s and have remained close friends for three decades.
Mumme, known for his pass-loving “Air Raid” offense still used by disciples such as West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and Washington State’s Mike Leach, currently is the head coach at Division III McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. Matthews is shopping for a new offensive coordinator.
Is a reunion possible?
When reached Wednesday evening, Mumme — after joking about the hypothetical contract negotiations involving strokes on the golf course — didn’t say no.
“Of course, I would consider working for Mickey,” the 60-year-old Mumme said. “As far as anything going on there, there’s nothing going on.”
Mumme, along with Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain, are believed to be candidates for JMU’s vacant offensive coordinator position. Matthews fired his longtime coordinator, Jeff Durden, in December after a string of mostly disappointing seasons.
Durden installed a run-oriented spread at Madison, and it was highly successful when the Dukes had an ideal option quarterback, Rodney Landers. It wasn’t so successful under lesser quarterbacks, and Matthews has said he plans to switch gears and build a productive passing offense around rising sophomore Michael Birdsong.
Mumme said he has not been offered the offensive coordinator position at JMU and jokingly bristled about the prospect of not being a head coach for the first time since the 1980s.
“I’ve been a head coach about as long as you’ve been alive,” he said.
But Mumme, again, didn’t rule out anything.
“You can never say never in this business,” he said. “I don’t know.”
McMurry hired Mumme — who, most notably, coached Kentucky from 1997-2000 — in 2009. The War Hawks went 8-3 this season and averaged 32.8 points and 433.4 yards per game, 367.3 of which came via the pass.
In recent seasons, the Dukes threw only about 30 percent of the time. In 2012, JMU averaged 182.5 passing yards per game.
McMurry threw 69 percent of the time this season.
Mumme, whose Air Raid attack has produced astonishing passing numbers, would appear to be a strong candidate for the Madison job, given Matthews’ desire to redirect JMU’s offense.
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Mumme said. “Mickey’s an old friend. Anytime that happens, my name kind of crops up.”
Offensive coordinator isn’t the only opening on JMU’s staff. Matthews also must find a quarterbacks coach (likely to be filled by the new OC), a tight ends coach and an offensive line coach. The O-line was previously coached by Chris Malone, who was fired along with Durden in December. Tight ends were coached by Latrell Scott, who left last week after one season to become the head coach at D-II Virginia State.
There’s also a spot open on the defensive side, the one vacated by cornerbacks coach Mark Hendricks, who left for a high school job last summer.
The offensive line position is expected to be filled by Curt Newsome, who previously coached at JMU from 1999-2005, if Newsome loses his job at Virginia Tech as part of an offensive staff shakeup in Blacksburg. He served as Matthews’ associate head coach from 2003-05 and was on staff when the Dukes won the I-AA national title in 2004. Newsome, another close friend of Matthews’, is known for recruiting connections in talent-rich Hampton Roads.
Multiple sources said Wednesday that former Virginia defensive line coach Jeff Hanson is a very strong candidate to fill Madison’s vacant defensive assistant job. Hanson was fired by U.Va. in December. It is unclear which position he would coach at JMU. Safeties coach Tony LeZotte is expected to coach all defensive backs in 2013.
Hanson spent two years at U.Va. under coach Mike London, who he also worked under for two seasons at Richmond, Hanson’s alma mater.