OSU assistant reportedly leaving


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 Web site Footballscoop.com reported Thursday.

Neither OSU nor James Madison has confirmed the report.

Withers, 50, in his second season as the Buckeyes’ co-defensive coordinator — along with Luke Fickell — assistant head coach, 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 has been under siege. OSU allowed 75 points and more than 1,000 yards in its final two games 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 made $222,000 per year at James Madison.