Ohio State's Co-DC Everett Withers to Leave Buckeyes for FCS Job

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2013

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The two-year pledge has been lifted, and the first staff shakeup of Urban Meyer's Ohio State career is officially in the books.

As first reported by FootballScoop.com, co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers announced his departure from the Buckeyes on Friday, accepting the head coaching job at FCS program James Madison:

Withers is a tenured veteran of the coaching trade, having been in the industry for 25 years and coached at both the college and NFL levels. He's never had a full-time head coaching job, though, having only led North Carolina in 2011 after Butch Davis was fired amid an improper benefits scandal.

UNC went 7-6 under Withers' command but hired Larry Fedora the following season, which prompted Withers to leave for his most recent post under Meyer in Columbus. But he made no secrets about eventually wanting to be a head coach somewhere else, so it comes as little surprise to see him leave for a less prestigious school.

"We are so thrilled to welcome Coach Withers and his family to James Madison," said JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne, according to John Taylor of College Football Talk. "I have no doubt that he will be a great leader for our football program and mentor to our student-athletes for many years to come."

Per Taylor's report, Withers accepted a pay cut of nearly 50 percent to accept the job at James Madison. He'll now make "just" $325,000 annually instead of the $580,000 he made as an assistant at Ohio State in 2013.

That's a steep price to pay, but for Withers, getting the chance to lead his very own program—even at the FCS level—makes it worth every penny lost. He got his first, succulent taste of being a head coach during his time at Chapel Hill, and it's hard to relapse into being an assistant after trying such a liberating flavor.

As co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in Columbus, Withers often drew the ire of Buckeyes fans, who blamed him for an underachieving secondary in 2013. Those frustrations might be fair given the talent in OSU's defensive backfield, but the team still went 24-1 during his tenure, so it's not like Withers was costing it wins.

James Madison finished 6-6 in 2013, its first non-winning season since 2003.