Over the coming weeks and months, the Maryland football program will search for a new head coach to replace the departed Randy Edsall. We know who the candidates are, but who should Maryland pick? We'll state every coach's case, whether he wants the job or not, in 500 words or fewer.
Everett Withers, James Madison head coach
Possibility scale: 5/10
Withers has had a long and interesting coaching career. He's worked time as position coach, coordinator and head coach across Division I-AA (now FCS), Division I-A (now FBS) and the NFL. He's done everything from coaching special teams at Austin Peay in the early 1990s to coordinating defenses at a couple of national powers (Louisville, Ohio State) to being a head coach (North Carolina, now James Madison). Withers went 7-6 as the Tar Heels' head coach in 2011, when he had a handful of future NFL players contributing on his roster – including running back Gio Bernard, linebacker Zach Brown and defensive lineman Quinton Coples.
Withers took the James Madison head job before last season. In his first year, he took the Dukes to the FCS playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season. This year, his team is ranked in the division's top 10 nationally.
On Sunday night, USA TODAY's Dan Wolken tweeted this:
Name I'm hearing could be in play at Maryland: JMU's Everett Withers. Knows the Big Ten.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 2, 2015
Indeed, between Ohio State and Minnesota, Withers has spent three seasons as a Big Ten defensive coordinator.
Lots! Withers has tons of experience, but he's not outrageously old at 52. He has experience recruiting among Big Ten competition and in Maryland's broader geographical region. He's personally responsible for the recruitment of potential All-America defenders Vonn Bell and Raekwon McMillan to Ohio State, and he's managed to gin up some pretty serious enthusiasm for college football in Harrisonburg, Va., of all places. If he can get people riled up there, he can get people riled up in College Park. He also did a great job bringing along transfer quarterback Vad Lee, a Georgia Tech castoff who came to JMU and improved a ton over the last few seasons before a career-ending injury a few weeks ago.
A few things. Withers took over North Carolina after Butch Davis was fired at the height of an academic fraud scandal, and the NCAA tagged him for deliberately not cooperating with its ensuing investigation. (He'd been the defensive coordinator under Davis.). His defenses at Ohio State in 2012 and 2013 were not especially good by Buckeye standards, clocking in at Nos. 25 and 42 in defensive S&P+, respectively. The defense he coordinated at Minnesota in 2007 was garbage, rating No. 109 out of 119 Division I teams in the same stat. Withers is known as a defensive mind, but his defenses haven't been spectacularly good or anything.
In one sentence
Withers has had impressive recent success and has a long recruiting history, and he's probably worth Maryland considering despite up-and-down results as a coordinator.
Ed. note: This is our first candidate who wasn't on our initial listing of possibilities. We'll have a few more names involved in the next few weeks.