Following the frenzy that consumed the college football world last week, James Madison University's head football coach Mike Houston has accepted the head coaching position at FBS school, East Carolina University.
The timing was not ideal for Houston, whose potential move was leaked earlier in the week just days before the JMU Dukes took on Colgate for round two of the playoffs Saturday. The Dukes lost that game and 24 hours later, Houston had accepted the job at ECU.
ECU took strong notice to Houston in 2017, when JMU, an FCS school, beat the FBS team 34-14 in Greenville during the school's home opener. Due to ECU being an FBS school, JMU will receive $750,000 from ECU as a buyout to Houston's 10-year contract with JMU.
Mike Houston took to social media Monday in an over four-minute long video statement addressing JMU on his decision to leave.
“Even though I am leaving, I could not think more highly of this institution, this football program, and most of all our fan base," Houston said in the video. “I wish James Madison University and its football program the very best. I know some people have some hard feelings about me leaving. It has not been an easy decision, but at the same time, this is what is best for Amanda, Owen, Reed, myself and my career at this time.”
In a statement Sunday evening, JMU Athletic Director Jeff Bourne acknowledged Houston's decision to leave and announced the search for a new head coach for JMU.
"After three memorable and highly successful seasons with Mike Houston, we find ourselves in transition looking for a new head football coach," Bourne said in the statement. "First, I have no hard feelings about Mike leaving for this opportunity. He was the right fit for JMU for the last three years and we are grateful that he chose James Madison. Mike had FBS offers after each of his first two JMU seasons, and in each case, we were able to present him with an attractive package to stay at JMU."
Bourne also references the earlier date change to national signing day being Dec. 19 this year, which forces programs to land a coach more quickly than usual at the conclusion of the regular season.
“I am excited about this new opportunity, but am saddened about having to leave behind a place that is as special as this," Houston said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will always support this football program and this institution.”