Nashville– Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State fans alike would have a hard time imagining anyone other than Brian Jenkins and Rod Reed roaming the sidelines of their respective programs over the past 3 seasons. But four years ago, Rod Reed stood at a crossroads in his football coaching career that could have changed the portrait of both programs.
Reed had emerged as a finalist for the head coaching position at Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman.
He’d spent four seasons as linebackers coach at Bethune-Cookman, met his wife there and liked living in Daytona Beach, Fla.
But TSU was his alma mater, and when athletics director Teresa Phillips offered to promote him from the Tigers’ defensive coordinator to the top job, he accepted.
Bethune-Cookman eventually hired Brian Jenkins, who has led the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons, including last year’s 9-3 record.
TSU and Bethune-Cookman meet at 8 p.m. today in the John Merritt Classic at LP Field in what will be an emotional game for Reed, who has so many connections with both programs.
“I am sure I would have been happy as the head coach at Bethune-Cookman. I like the school and I like the people there,” Reed said. “I went down there when the head coaching position was open, came back and interviewed with TSU, and the next day I was the coach here.”
Reed’s second college coaching position was at Bethune-Cookman (1992-95), and it was during his time there when he developed the desire to be a head coach — so much so he was willing to leave the college ranks in 1996 to take the head coaching job at Seabreeze High in Daytona Beach, Fla.
In 2000, he returned to college coaching at East Texas Baptist and three years later became TSU’s defensive coordinator.
Reed left a strong impression at Bethune-Cookman.