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Indiana players take the field during IU's win over Akron on Sept. 23, 2023. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)
Indiana players take the field during IU's win over Akron on Sept. 23, 2023. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)

Indiana hires James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti to lead football team

Cignetti posted a 52-9 record leading the Dukes

Indiana Athletics announced on Thursday that it has hired former James Madison University head coach Curt Cignetti to take over the Hoosier team.

“I am very excited to welcome Curt Cignetti as the head football coach at Indiana University,” Indiana athletic director Dolson said. “We had a very talented and deep pool of candidates, and Curt stood out thanks to an incredible track record of success over more than four decades in college football. As a head coach he’s succeeded everywhere he’s been, and as an assistant he has been a part of championship cultures while working alongside some of the game’s best coaches. I appreciate the tremendous support throughout this process of Chair Quinn Buckner and the IU Board of Trustees and President Pam Whitten, all of whom were critical in making this day a reality.”

Cignetti has almost 40 years of coaching experience under his belt and a resume that will have Hoosier fans salivating at the thought of continuing his pattern of success at Indiana. As a head coach, Cignetti has a 119-35 record and is most recently coming off of an impressive 52-9 stint at JMU. He looks to continue that success at Indiana.

“I am excited to lead this program forward and change the culture, mindset, and expectation level of Hoosier football,” Cignetti said. “I want to thank Director of Athletics Scott Dolson and President Pam Whitten, and I look forward to working with both in building something special at IU. Both share my vision and belief that big things are ahead for the IU program.”

Cignetti joined the JMU program in 2019, immediately upgrading the program to a 14-2 season, three consecutive CAA championships and a FCS championship. The Dukes reached the FCS Semifinals in the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Following the 2021 season JMU transitioned from FCS to FBS with Cignetti at the helm, yet it has not slowed the Dukes down. In their first year in the Sun Belt conference JMU found themselves at the top of the Sun Belt East, as well as earning the school’s first spot in the AP Top 25 Poll. The Sun Belt Conference Championship concurs with the NCAA’s rule that a school cannot compete in a bowl game after reclassifying for two years, so the Dukes could not compete in the conference championship.

The 2023 season has followed suit, with the Dukes sitting at No. 24 and at the top of the conference with an 11-1 record. JMU was previously ranked No. 18 prior to its one loss at the hands of a 26-23 overtime loss to Appalachian State.

The Indiana position will make for Cignetti’s fourth head coaching position, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Elon and JMU being the others. At all three stops Cignetti had a winning record. 

Cignetti has a pattern of turning teams around. Prior to his arrival at IUP, the Crimson Hawks went 4-10 in conference in the two seasons leading up to his hire. In his first two seasons following his arrival IUP had improved to 19-5. At Elon, Cignetti inherited a 2-9 program and flipped it to an 8-4 winning team. 

Cignetti has also had various positions at Pitt, Davidson, Rice, Temple, NC State and was also a part of Nick Saban’s 2009 National Championship team. 

While still a ways away from the 2024 season, Cignetti’s first challenge will present itself immediately.

As of right now 19 Hoosiers have put their names in the transfer portal. Cignetti will need to convince at least some of those players to return as well as be prepared to recruit hard from the portal.

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