2. Sep 24, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; James Madison Dukes head coach Curt Cignetti watches the fourth quarter action against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
2. Curt Cignetti, head coach, James Madison University
If you are looking for a head coach with a reputation for building and maintaining a winner, look no further than James Madison Dukes’ head coach Curt Cignetti. He learned how to make a program from the best, Nick Saban. Before becoming a head coach, Cignetti was part of Saban’s original staff at Alabama when he took the job in 2007.
Upon leaving Alabama, Cignetti found himself one of the best coaches in FCS. He built Indiana University (Pennsylvania) and Elon into winners. IUP was 4-10 before he got there in 2011. They were conference champions the following season. He led the Crimson Hawks to three playoff appearances and 53 wins.
Elon was just as wrong as IUP when he took that program over in 2017. In his two seasons with the Phoenix, he nearly tripled their conference wins from four — in six seasons– to ten. Cignetti has turned James Madison first into an FCS powerhouse, leading the Dukes to three National Semifinal appearances and one National Championship game appearance.
The Dukes have been just as dominant in their two seasons in FBS. They are 19-4 in FBS, including 13-3 in the Sun Belt. Cignetti can build a program brick by brick. He’s done it three times. This is the type of coach Indiana should look for. However, at 62, does he want to take on another building project?