Indiana has hired Curt Cignetti as its next coach, according to ESPN. Cignetti comes from James Madison, where he led the program to an impressive 19-4 mark in two years while transitioning to the Sun Belt.
"I am very excited to welcome Curt Cignetti as the head football coach at Indiana University," Indiana vice president and athletic director Scott Dolson said in a press release. "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 overseen one of the most impressive transitions in college football history. Since joining the Sun Belt in 2022. JMU has won the East both times but been ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA transition rules. After a 10-0 start in 2023, JMU and the Virginia attorney general announced plans to file litigation to try to force the NCAA's hand on a waiver. JMU withdrew its case after a 26-23 overtime loss against Appalachian State.
"I am excited to lead this program forward and change the culture, mindset, and expectation level of Hoosier football," Cignetti said in a press release. "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."
Prior to JMU, Cignetti worked his way up the Northeastern college football world before landing as a receivers coach and recruiting coordinator on Nick Saban's initial staff at Alabama. After four years, Cignetti took over at Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania, leading it to a 53-17 record. He moved to the Division I ranks at Elon before taking over then-FCS James Madison in 2019. In his first season, the Dukes reached the Division I National Championship. He posted three consecutive top-three finishes.
Now, Cignetti is tasked with repairing a program that tanked over the last three years under Tom Allen. The Hoosiers went 14-7 in 2019-20, but fell to 9-27 over the last three seasons, including 3-24 in Big Ten play. The run was capped off with a 3-9 record in 2023. The job becomes even more difficult as the Big Ten welcomes USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington in 2024.
While Cignetti has an offensive background, JMU has been known for its stifling defenses. The Dukes rank No. 18 nationally in holding opponents to just 4.9 yards per play. Defensive linemen Jalen Green and Jamree Kromah combined for 25.5 sacks and both ranked top 10 nationally.