BREAKING: CMU football head coach John Bonamego fired

CMU Football Head Coach John Bonamego walks down the sideline during CMU's loss to Buffalo on Oct. 6 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego was fired by Athletic Director Michael Alford on Nov. 23.

The Chippewas finished 1-11 on the 2018 season and 0-8 in the Mid-American Conference. CMU ranked last in the MAC in offensive scoring with 15.2 points per game and overall pass offense with just 1,481 yards.

"Making a leadership change is a difficult decision, especially when you know that coach has given his all to CMU,” Alford said. “After conducting a 360-degree evaluation of the program, it was clear that a change is needed if we are going to compete for and win championships.

"We greatly appreciate all that John has done for his alma mater and wish him the best moving forward.”

CMU has been in negotiations with Bonamego's reps about a buyout settlement lower than what is outlined in his contract. The CMU Athletic Department does not have a final number yet.

Bonamego, in his fourth season, put together CMU’s worst record in program history and lowest winning percentage since Charles Tambling’s team was 0-1 in 1904. The one-game season over a century ago was discontinued due to budgetary reasons.

In the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Bonamego’s group ranked No. 128 of 129 total teams in offense. However, the defense ranked No. 54 overall.

Bonamego’s final game of his CMU career was a 51-13 loss against Toledo on Nov. 23 at Glass Bowl Stadium.

Just a few weeks before the conclusion of the 2018 season, Alford said he had faith in the direction of the program under Bonamego. 

“I’m sure John has us on the right path,” Alford said. 

After an end-of-season meeting, Alford decided a change needed to be made at the head coach spot.

Alford, back on Dec. 19, 2017, signed Bonamego to a five-year extension that was supposed to run through 2022 with a base salary of $430,000 – including annual raises of $10,000. Bonamego was the third-highest paid coach in the MAC and 100th in the nation before he was fired.

Prior to joining the Chippewas in 2015, Bonamego worked in the National Football League from 1999-2014 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions. Before then, the 55-year-old was an assistant coach at Maine (1988-91), Lehigh (1992) and Army (1993-98). 

Bonamego played for CMU in the mid-1980s as a walk-on wide receiver and quarterback. He said coaching the Chippewas was his dream job.

“Since I left CMU in 1987, my dream job was to be the head coach of the Central Michigan football program. Today, that dream came true,” Bonamego said in a statement when he was hired to coach CMU on Feb. 9, 2015.

Following Bonamego's final game as head coach for the Chippewas, he was asked about his job security.

"I'm not a quitter," Bonamego said. "I'd like to have a chance to finish what I started. We've got a lot of young players, but clearly the season was not good enough. There isn't a person on the planet that's more disappointed than I am."

When asked if Bonamego would ever think to leave CMU, he claimed quitting is different than being asked to depart.

"Asking me right now, no," Bonamego said. "Again, I've never quit anything in my life. Quitting and being asked to leave are two different things. I don't know if I'm in the right mind-frame to answer that question at this point in time."