San Marcos, TEXAS – Texas State University President Denise Trauth and Director of Athletics Larry Teis introduced Everett Withers as the school's 16th head football coach Thursday afternoon. The announcement was made inside the Jerry D. and Linda Gregg Fields West Side Complex at Bobcat Stadium.
"We are thrilled to add a successful and seasoned coach of the caliber of Everett Withers to the Bobcat family," said Dr. Trauth. "What a great day for Texas State and its football fans."
Withers comes to Texas State after compiling a 25-13 career record and guiding his teams to two NCAA Division I FCS Playoff appearances and a berth in the 2011 Independence Bowl in his three years as a head coach. During the past two years, he led James Madison to a combined 18-7 overall record, including a combined 12-4 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. Under Withers, the Dukes won a share of a CAA championship in 2015, the school's first conference title since 2008.
James Madison also set a school record with a 14-game, regular-season winning streak after the Dukes won the final seven games of the 2014 season and began the 2015 campaign with a 7-0 record. The Dukes also tied a school record by winning 10 straight CAA games.
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Withers became head coach at JMU after coaching stints at Ohio State, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Louisville, Southern Miss, Tulane and Austin Peay. He also spent seven years in the NFL. He coached six seasons with the Tennessee Titans and spent one year as a quality control coach with the New Orleans Saints.
"I want to thank Parker Executive Search and our search committee for doing their due diligence during the holidays," Teis said. "We searched high and low, and Everett's name kept coming up. He has a track record of being a successful head coach in the ACC for a year and at James Madison during the past two years. His coaching background also includes working under Urban Meyer, Mack Brown and Jeff Fisher. Then, his enthusiasm and desire to be at Texas State pushed him to the top."
Withers led James Madison to a 9-3 record and had a 6-2 league mark to earn a No. 5 seed in the 2015 FCS Playoffs and hosted the school's first home playoff game in December for the first time in seven years against Colgate after receiving a first-round bye.
The Dukes had one of the top offenses in the nation in 2015 and ranked second in scoring and total offense with 44.3 points and 528.8 yards per game. The team led the FCS in third-down conversions with 54 percent, while ranking fourth in pass completion percentage with 66.9 percent, seventh in rushing with 273.8 yards per game and ninth in red-zone scoring with 89.4 percent. JMU also set a school record with 6,345 yards of total offense after rushing for 3,285 yards and passing for 3,060 yards.
James Madison also excelled on its special teams after ranking seventh in kickoff returns (24.3 yards per return), 15th in net punting (37.7 yards per punt) and 11th with two blocked punts.
In his inaugural season, the Dukes had a 9-4 overall record and finished third in the league standings with a 6-2 mark after being picked eighth in the preseason polls in 2014. James Madison also played in the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2011. That year, James Madison set school records in total offense, passing offense, completions and touchdown passes and ranked 10th nationally in total offense with 484.6 yards per game. The Dukes also were the 17th-best scoring team and ranked 21st in both passing offense and rushing offense.
Defensively, the Dukes ranked second in the country in turnover margin (+1.08), 12th in total fumble recoveries (14) and 13th in sacks per game (2.85). They also had one of their best seasons on record in terms of blocks, ranking sixth in total blocks (7), including a No. 3 ranking in blocked punts (4).
Beginning his 29th year in the coaching ranks, Withers went to James Madison in January 2014 from The Ohio State University, where he served as assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach in 2012 and 2013. The Buckeyes had a 24-game winning streak and a 24-2 record during his tenure. Ohio State had a 12-0 record and finished No. 3 in the national rankings in 2012. It was the sixth unbeaten and untied season in school history.
The Buckeyes also ranked second in the Big Ten with 14 interceptions, and all four starting defensive backs earned All-Big Ten Conference recognition.
During his coaching career, Withers has served 11 years as a defensive coordinator and 17 seasons as a defensive secondary coach.
Prior to accepting his position with Ohio State, Withers spent four years at North Carolina. He was promoted to interim head coach at the school in July 2011 and led the Tar Heels to a 7-6 overall record and a berth in the Independence Bowl against Missouri. His first defensive unit (in 2008) ranked eighth nationally with 20 interceptions, which was just one shy of setting a UNC single season record in 2008.
Withers spent one year as defensive coordinator at Minnesota and was a defensive backs coach at Texas from 1998-2000 after serving as a defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and defensive backs coach at Louisville from 1995-97. He also was a defensive backs and assistant special teams coach at Southern Mississippi in 1992-93, outside linebackers coach at Tulane in 1991 and defensive coordinator/defensive backs/tight ends and special teams coach at Austin Peay.
While he was with Tennessee in the NFL, Withers served as a defensive backs coach under Jeff Fisher. Tennessee won an AFC South championship in 2002 and earned playoff berths in 2002 and 2003. The Titans also ranked among the NFL's top five teams in rushing defense three times, and his defensive backs ranked among the top 10 defenses overall in 2002. Tennessee also had 57 interceptions from 2002-04, the best three-year total for the franchise, fourth-best in the AFC and eighth-best in the NFL.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Withers was a four-year letterman as a defensive back at Appalachian State. He served as team captain in 1984. He and his wife, Kara, have a daughter, Tia, and a son, Pierce.