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February 21, 2013

Air Raid Raided

The Hal Mumme Era at James Madison ended before it started.

Sources said Thursday that the "Air Raid" innovator and former Kentucky football coach will not be the Dukes' new offensive coordinator, as expected, because he accepted an offer Wednesday to become the OC at a BCS school.

A source said it was a "business" and a "family" decision, and that the unnamed BCS school plans to announce Mumme's hiring next week.

Mumme's decision caught JMU by surprise - an assistant coach was scheduled to pick up the native Texan at an area airport today in advance of a press conference to announce his hiring - and left coach Mickey Matthews without the man he hoped would overhaul the Dukes' offense.

Matthews declined comment Thursday, saying he would not discuss the matter until this afternoon.

Sources at JMU had said for weeks that Mumme's hiring was a done deal, but the deal fell apart Wednesday, and Madison reposted the job Thursday.

Mumme, 60, would have made $100,000 a year at Division I-AA Madison, two sources said - about one-third to one-fifth what an experienced coordinator earns at a major I-A school.

Matthews and Mumme are close friends - they met while on staff together at West Texas State - and Matthews hoped Mumme would transform the traditionally run-oriented Dukes into a passing team built around rising sophomore Michael Birdsong.

Mumme's Air Raid offense - still used by, notably, Washington State coach Mike Leach and West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen - is a passing attack that often puts up huge numbers.

It has worked at all levels of college football, including Division III, where Mumme spent the past four seasons as coach at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. Mumme's offenses at Murray averaged 346.4 passing yards, 415.8 total yards and 33.6 points per game. McMurry passed about 65 percent of the time and ran 73 plays per game. Mumme resigned from McMurry in January.

During the same stretch, JMU averaged 145.6 passing yards, 343.1 total yards and 22.7 points. The Dukes threw about 30 percent of the time and averaged 64 plays per game.

It is unclear what JMU will do now. Matthews is entering a critical season after JMU went 7-4 last season and missed the playoffs for the third time in four years, creating unease among an administration that saw attendance dip last fall at its two-year-old, 25,000-seat showcase stadium.

Spring practice starts in less than a month, and Mumme's decision apparently will leave the Dukes without an offensive coordinator for at least another two weeks. The new OC advertisement, posted on JMU's jobs website, expires March 8. The start date of the job is listed as March 18.

Mumme would have been a popular, energizing hire. Fans, players and even assistant coaches were tweeting #AirDukes, and there was excitement about the introduction of a high-powered passing offense.

Now, JMU has to look for a new offensive coordinator to replace Mumme, who was supposed to replace Jeff Durden. Durden was fired in December after nine seasons and has since been hired as the OC at I-AA Tennessee-Chattanooga.


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