Curt Cignetti Hired as Indiana University Football Coach

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 4: Indiana University president Pamela Whitten and Athletics Director Scott Dolson celebrate after the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin 20-14 during an NCAA football game on November 4, 2023 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

Staff report

Bloomington, Indiana – November 30, 2023

The Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics, Scott Dolson, announced Curt Cignetti as the 30th head football coach in IU’s history. Cignetti’s appointment follows a coaching journey spanning more than four decades in college football.

The decision to bring Cignetti on board stemmed from his track record, marked by an 11-1 record during his fifth season as the head coach at James Madison University (JMU) in 2023, according to Indiana University Athletics. His coaching career is highlighted by an overall record of 52-9 (.853), showcasing a 19-4 run during JMU’s inaugural two years in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) program. The most elite football programs in the NCAA are found in the FBS.

Expressing his enthusiasm, Dolson stated, “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.” He further acknowledged Cignetti’s success both as a head coach and as an assistant, working alongside some of the game’s most revered coaches.

Cignetti, recognized as the 2023 Sun Belt Coach of the Year, brings years of experience, having navigated through 41 years in coaching.

“I am excited to lead this program forward and change the culture, mindset, and expectation level of Hoosier football,” remarked Cignetti, expressing his eagerness to work collaboratively with Director of Athletics Scott Dolson and President Pam Whitten in shaping a prosperous future for IU’s football program.

At James Madison University, Cignetti steered the team to success, securing three consecutive CAA championships, playoff appearances, and an FCS national championship game berth in 2019. Additionally, he led the team into the Top 25 during its transition from FCS to FBS, securing a bowl bid and successive Sun Belt East titles in 2023.

Under his tutelage, several players earned accolades, with quarterback Jordan McCloud and defensive lineman Jalen Green standing out as 2023 Sun Belt Player and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively. Moreover, JMU claimed multiple All-America recognitions and featured prominently in All-Conference teams during Cignetti’s tenure.

Before his tenure at JMU, Cignetti left his mark at Elon, orchestrating a turnaround for the Phoenix program, culminating in back-to-back playoff berths – a feat achieved for the first time in the program’s history.

His coaching career spans various esteemed institutions, including serving on Nick Saban’s coaching staff at Alabama, contributing to the team’s triumphs during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Cignetti’s coaching journey is underpinned by a family legacy in football, with his father, Frank Cignetti Sr., a figure in the sport and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee.

Now it is yet to be seen who Cignetti will recruit as his assistant coaches, and how he will rebuild the team. Key assistant coaches, who helped IU football under Tom Allen have a winning season in 2020 during covid, were lured away for bigger and better deals. And recently, after IU announced the firing of Allen, many key players on the team announced they were entering the transfer portal shortly after the announcement.

Some have suggested maybe donor money needs to be put into the NIL to recruit better players. Money for donors was recently used to pay Allen the millions of dollars required to end his contract early. But the money paid paled compared to the 78 million paid by Texas A&M for a coach’s firing in Texas. The Indiana University Athletics announcement didn’t say how much they will pay Cignetti.

One of the greatest coaches in Indiana History was Bo McMillan, who left IU in 1947 with a 63-48-11 record.

Indiana’s conference record in 2023 was 1-8.

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