Ohio State defensive coordinator reportedly taking job at James Madison


COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s defense may include a new voice next season.

Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers will be the next head coach at James Madison University of the FCS, the website Footballscoop.com reported today.

James Madison has not confirmed the report.

Withers, 50, in his second season as the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator — along with Luke Fickell — and safeties coach. The Charlotte native’s resume also includes a one-year term as North Carolina’s interim head coach in 2011 and NFL stops in Tennessee and New Orleans.

Withers helped build one of the nation’s top defenses during his four years with the Tar Heels but has struggled to find the same success in Columbus. The Buckeyes’ defense — officially directed by Fickell — has been under siege for much of the season. OSU allowed 75 points and more than 1,000 yards in its final two games against Michigan and Michigan State and is 104th nationally in giving up 259.5 passing yards per game.

If Withers leaves for JMU, he would likely take a pay cut. His $580,000 annual salary is second behind only Fickell’s $600,000 among OSU assistants. The recently fired Mickey Matthews, who was 109-71 with an FCS national title in 15 years at JMU, made $222,000 per year.