HBCU coaches band of brothers during playoffs

4ed7d1777c6c7a954efb78bfc19f953cBradford Gillens | Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Examiner|

When the 2013 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff pairings were announced last Sunday on ESPNU, of the 24 teams selected, three of them (Bethune-Cookman, South Carolina State, Tennessee State) were from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It was the first time three HBCU’s had been selected for the postseason since 1999 (FAMU, Hampton, Tenn. State).  Bethune-Cookman won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s automatic berth, while South Carolina State (MEAC) and Tennessee State (Ohio Valley) were selected as at-large participants.

During the regular season, those teams forge some of the most intense rivalries in FCS football but once the playoffs begin, it’s not uncommon to hear coaches from opposing teams rooting for their HBCU brethren to do well in the tournament.

For head coach Brian Jenkins of Bethune-Cookman, he was extremely excited to see all three schools make the field of 24.

“I think it would speak volumes about the direction of where HBCU football is headed, Jenkins said. We play football just like every other school and because of our establishment I don’t think that should be taken into any type of consideration when you look at the brand of football.”

Read on: http://www.examiner.com/article/hbcu-coaches-band-of-brothers-during-playoffs?CID=examiner_alerts_article

Wildcats ranked 18th/20th in latest FCS polls

Cary White rushes for a score against FIU

Cary White rushes for a score against FIU

Bethune-Cookman head into its bye-week losing one spot in both the FCS Coaches and SportsNetwork media polls.  The Wildcats currently sit 18th and 20th respectively in the each poll.

BCU registered an impressive 3-1 mark in the month of September with out-of-conference victories over Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Conference and Florida International from FBS’ Conference USA.  The #8 ranked Florida State Seminoles handed BCU their lone defeat.

The Wildcats have won 14 straight MEAC contests and begin conference play after the bye-week when they head to Dover to take on Delaware State on October 5th.

Coaches Poll

1. North Dakota State (26) 3-0 650 1
2. Towson 4-0 616 3
3. Eastern Washington 2-1 598 4
4. Sam Houston State 3-1 573 5
5. Northern Iowa 3-0 531 7
6. South Dakota State 3-1 465 6
T-7. New Hampshire 2-1 460 9
T-7. Montana 3-0 460 11
9. McNeese State 4-0 409 13
10. Montana State 2-2 402 2
11. Coastal Carolina 4-0 372 15
12. Eastern Illinois 3-1 354 10
13. Central Arkansas 2-2 326 14
14. James Madison 3-1 283 16
15. Wofford 2-2 278 8
16. Fordham 4-0 217 21
17. Lehigh 3-0 214 18
18. Bethune-Cookman 3-1 179 17
19. Cal Poly 1-2 169 19
20. Richmond 2-2 156 20
21. Villanova 1-2 155 23
22. Northern Arizona 2-1 117 22
23. Stony Brook 1-2 107 12
24. Illinois State 1-2 80 24
25. Youngstown State 3-1 47 NR

Dropped out: No. 25 Maine.

Others receiving votes: Maine 46, Tennessee-Martin 44, Gardner-Webb 35, William & Mary 27, Jacksonville State 21, Portland State 15, Southern Utah 8, Delaware 7, Tennessee State 6, Harvard 5, Chattanooga 4, Stephen F. Austin 4, Indiana State 2, North Carolina A&T 1, Sacred Heart 1.


Final Rant (Week 3) at FIU

Drexler Dixon

Drexler Dixon

Shortly after Bethune-Cookman’s historic 34-13 win over Florida International on Saturday night, Golden Panthers head coach Ron Turner told his team “we got beat by a better football team because they’re more of a team than we are.” Turner neglected to mention to his guys that BCU fielded a squad just as athletic as his, they were equal if not superior in overall team speed, and the Wildcats were much more physical at the point of attack than were his Panthers. In essence, Turner should have said Bethune-Cookman was simply the better football team; no qualifiers needed.

This is our house

The Wildcats set the tone for the night in the parking lot before kickoff. No, there was no pregame dust-up between the two sides; I am referring to the deluxe-size BCU tailgate taking place in the parking lot. South Florida alumni chapters put together a homecoming worthy tailgate that covered the East parking lot with an abundance of Maroon and Gold supporters. The eyeball test suggests the stands inside the stadium were filled with an equal number of BCU and FIU fans.

A collective echo of ooohhhhhhhhs rang loudly on the first play of regulation when backup running back and special teams ace Drexler Dixon leveled FIU return man De’Andre Jasper on the game’s opening kickoff. Jasper left the field under his own power but the tone was established; BCU was dead set on playing fast, playing aggressive, and they were up for the challenge of proving they could compete with any team in the nation regardless of classification. For the next 59 and half minutes, it was BCU from the NCAA’s lower tiered Division One Football Championship Subdivision who dominated play.
The Wildcats kept the momentum rolling on their first offensive possession needing only 4 plays to drive 91 yards. Junior running back Anthony Jordan capped the drive with a 58 yard TD scamper and the Wildcats never looked back.

Around the same time as Jordan’s opening score, the slightly late arriving Marching Wildcats found their seats and begin to fill Alfonso Field with that rich, dark sound for which they have become known and FIU Stadium was unofficially rebranded as “The Wildcat Den” for the next 3 hours.

big men

Big men getting it done

Sports cliché number #117 states games are won and loss in the trenches and Saturday’s performance did nothing to dissuade this popular perception. The Wildcat offensive line paved the way for three Wildcat rushers to accumulate at least 60 yards each on the ground and a team average of 6.0 yards per attempt. My calculator tells me that’s good enough for a first down every two rushing tries. The defensive line was equally impressive limiting FIU to a pedestrian 2.2 yards per carry and just 73 yards rushing on the night. Coach Brian Jenkins stated after the game he challenged his offensive and defensive lines and based on the above-mentioned statistics, they answered the challenge pretty well.

FBS teams often enjoy their greatest level of superiority in the trenches when facing FCS opponents; so to see Bethune-Cookman’s big men not just hold up well but dominate the lines of scrimmage was a welcoming sign. Line play has been a tiresome point of criticism of HBCU squads for the better part of the last decade. Let’s hope BCU has solved this riddle as we get deeper into the season.

Take me away

Despite leading the nation in takeaways last season, BCU failed to register a turnover in week one versus Tennessee State. However, the Wildcat defense has seemed to regain their ball-hawking ways and have produced 5 takeaways in the past two games. Tim Burke’s 92 yard pick-six with 14:38 remaining in the contest ended any FIU hopes of a comeback attempt. It was BCU’s third pick-six of the season (Erik Williams and Nick Addison both returned interceptions for touchdowns in the Virginia Union game).

The Wildcats step WAY up in competition when they take on the #8 ranked Florida State Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night. This will be the first ever match up with the Noles.

Coach Jenkins continues to rack up the accolades


Photo Credits: Jerrime Bell

Photo Credits: Jerrime Bell

WACO, Texas – Bethune-Cookman football head coach Brian Jenkins has been named as this year’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Football Championship Subdivision Region Two Coach of the Year announced Monday morning by the AFCA office.

Recently completing his third year at the helm in Daytona Beach, Jenkins shares this year’s award with Stony Brook’s Chuck Piore who led his team to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. For Jenkins, this is the second time in the last three years he has won the award for Region Two, also picking up the honor in 2010.

Jenkins, the 2012 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Coach of the Year, led the Wildcats to an MEAC title and the first undefeated conference season for the Maroon and Gold since 1984. This past season, the Wildcats went 9-3 (8-0 MEAC) and played host to Coastal Carolina in the opening round of the FCS Playoffs at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach. It was the second MEAC title for the Cats under Jenkins – the fifth of its kind in school history – and they played host to an FCS Playoff competition for the third time in the past 10 years.

Since his arrival in Daytona Beach, Jenkins has compiled an overall record of 27-8, and an unprecedented 21-3 mark in league play. He has helped the Wildcats to two MEAC titles, two FCS Playoff appearances and been named the MEAC Coach of the Year twice.

Read on: http://www.bcuathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=23910&ATCLID=205819638

Coastal Carolina’s Joe Moglia expects tough matchup with Bethune-Cookman

Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia – Photo Credits / GoCCUSports.com

Bradford Gillens  – Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia has somewhat of an idea of the competitiveness in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, having played conference member North Carolina A&T in his first game as head coach of the Chants. CCU won the game 29-13, but the former TD Amertrade CEO knows there is a big difference between the Aggies team he faced in September and the Bethune-Cookman team he will face Saturday in Daytona Beach in the opening round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

“From an offensive perspective, they’ve done a great job of moving the football, Moglia said. They create issues for the defense that is playing them because of the multiple sets they face.”

While Moglia was quick to offer praise of the Wildcats, his Chanticleers enter the game riding a five game winning streak where they’ve averaged 46.2 points per game in those contests. Leading the offensive explosion has been senior dual threat quarterback Aramis Hillary. The All Big South first teamer leads the conference in total yards this season with 2,617 (2,133 passing, 484 rushing) and 20 total touchdowns and is the catalyst for the Coastal Carolina offense.

“He’s a great leader and everybody on our team respects him, Moglia said. One of his biggest strengths is that he makes good decisions. We give him progressions on all of his reads, whether it be through the option run or through the pass that are reasonably simple, but you still have to be able to make them and execute them and he’s been great at that. He’s been effective when he’s had to run and throw the ball and that’s primarily due to the fact that he’s been able to make good decisions.”

Read on: http://www.examiner.com/article/coastal-carolina-s-joe-moglia-expects-tough-matchup-with-bethune-cookman

Midseason interview with Coach Brian Jenkins

For those of us who have had the opportunity to speak with  BCU’s head football coach, Brian Jenkins, you know the experience is very much akin to attending a Sunday morning church service in the black community.  At some point in the engagement you are likely to laugh, you will certainly feel the intensity of the moment, some may even ask for repentance; but almost everyone is assured of feeling better about the experience afterwards.

Such was the case for me yesterday when Coach Jenkins graciously agreed to sit down with Bradford Gillens of the Orlando Examiner and myself for a thorough conversation.  The third year head coach touched on topics such as his team’s performance in the first half of the season, the success of some of the MEAC’s newest coaches, his wife’s assertions that he has mental problems, and his affinity for the world renown Marching Wildcats (more affectionately known as The Pride). 


If you would coach, assess your team’s performance in the first half of the season.

I am a perfectionist so I am pleased but never satisfied.  We didn’t play a complete football game until the A&T game.  In the other games we had so many miscues, and different assignment errors as well as a lot of dumb penalties.  Our operation was not very good at times, but in some cases it was good enough to get us the victory.

On the positive side, one thing that I have felt good about all year is the conditioning of our team.  Another thing is the fight of our team.  I think that they have exemplified that from the first play of the first game so I do know that is there.  What has decreased our grade to a C or C+ is all of those other things that I previously mentioned.  If we can clean up and continue to improve, we can definitely get to an A ”.

Your team is positioned atop the conference standings and you are in complete control of your destiny.  Are there any areas of concerns that you feel need to be addressed in the 2nd half of the season to ensure this team fully meets the expectations that you have for them going forward? 

We need to continue to execute well.  That’s always an area that you have to be sound and solid.  We have to tackle well.  The game is won with good tackling and good blocking.  We just have to continue to improve and develop as a whole”.

I have a few numbers for you coach: 7, 0, 0, 16, and 3; that’s the number of points your defense has surrendered in the 2nd half of games against FCS competition this year.  It seems that once they settle in they have been lights out.

That’s a good thing. It shows you that down the stretch we’re conditioned and we’re mentally focused to continue to execute at a high level and finish things out.  But if you look on the flip side at the points given up in the first two quarters, it demonstrates why we need to execute better.  If we can have that same urge, effort and execution in the first half of games then automatically we become a better football team”. 

There are a host of young players on the defensive side of the ball.  Do you feel this unit is ready to take the leap from being very good in the second half of games to being dominant throughout the entire contest?

“I don’t like to get caught up in the ‘we’re  young argument’.  These guys have been playing football since they were 8 years old and it’s the same game.  You put your helmet on, you put your shoulder pads on and you go out there and you have to tackle, execute, and stop your opponent.  I think what comes with being young is that sometimes our guys don’t execute within the scheme.  But when we settle down and they start operating in the scheme they are able to see what we can do.  I think if we continue to execute within the scheme then we are ready to propel forward and start being a dominant defense”.

Through the first half of the season, your Wildcats have the #1 rushing offense in the conference and the 2nd to last passing offense, a stark contrast to your inaugural season when your offense was coined the “Speedway O.”  Is it more of a situation where you are letting the talent you have dictate how you run the offense, or has it just been a concerted effort to become a primarily run first team?

“You have to do what’s necessary to win.  We’re letting our talent take over and that’s a plus to any football team.  I don’t get caught up in being #1 in passing or #1 in running.  The main thing that we have to do is be consistent in execution in order to win. People know we can throw the ball  and we have proven that.  We will continue to do whatever is necessary to win”.

Coach there are many overlooked aspects of a quality football team.  For instance, I am sure that both Jackie Wilson and Brock Waters would prefer to be on the field receiving snaps from Center; however, you can see those guys on the sidelines giving pointers to Quentin Williams and they have both seemed to willingly take up a mentor position with your young quarterback.  Is this part of that developing men and developing character aspect of your job that you hold so dearly?

“Absolutely!  100%!  I want two things from my players: (1) I want players who are trying to find a way in and not trying to find a way out; and (2) I want players that are all in. 

If you don’t have those two characteristics then you cannot play for me.  Right now, those guys are finding a way into the game and that’s by helping each other.  When Jackie was on the field it was Q and Brodrick.  When Brodrick was on the field it was Jackie and Q being his eyes and ears.  They are all in it together.  They all train together and they receive the same amount of reps in practice.  They are all focus and they are finding a way to contribute to the team.  That is all a part of developing men and developing character and it is very much a part of our program”.

 And what about the play of Quentin Williams, last week he was named as the MEAC Offensive POTW.  He seems to really be growing right before our eyes?

“Quentin is definitely growing just like Matt (Johnson) grew when he was here and Jackie grew last year when he had his time.  I always tell our guys that before growth takes place, you have to humble yourself and realize who you are.   Once you do that you open yourself up to being developed.   That’s what Quentin has done.  He came in with all of these accolades but I told him that he had to strip himself of being “Q” the big time high school quarterback and just be Quentin and develop Quentin as a person.  That will make Q the quarterback that you want to be.

Let me tell you about Quentin.  Everybody was telling him how well he played on Saturday (against NCA&T).  He had our video guy make cutups of all of his bad plays and he was evaluating those bad plays on Sunday much more intently then what he did well.  When we had our questions and answers session on Sunday and asked him what could you do to improve yourself, he said coach I made 8 bad plays and I have 8 coaching points that I need to correct.  That goes to show you how he’s open to development and correction and it shows you the type of leadership that we’re getting from Quentin and all of our quarterbacks”.

For the second time in 3 years, your team leads the nation in turnover differential.  That doesn’t just happen by accident does it?

“I learned from Greg Schiano that trained behavior becomes instinct.  We train our guys 7 days a week all year long on security and security of the program. They have taken to it and the results have shown.   It’s something that we drill every day.  I can’t tell you everything that we do because I would be giving parts of my program away and I can’t do that.  I will tell you that we do some mental drills and exercises.  Our coaching staff believes in the drills and philosophies even though some of them tell me that I am a different type of guy and kind of out there but the philosophies work and produce results.  So it’s not just the players that are making this happen.  My coaching staff has also bought in and they are teaching the things that I asked of them. It’s a total program effort”.

You have been singing the praises of Coach Harrell at Howard, Coach Broadway at North Carolina A&T, and Coach Frazier at North Carolina Central to anyone who would listen.  I guess it is not a surprise to you to see their teams sitting near the top of the conference standings huh?

“No It’s not.  I knew when those men were hired a change would take place.  No disrespect to anyone else but those are true men.  Coach Kerm at Delaware State is another one.  These men are true competitors who have a drive to master their craft and prepare a high level football team so it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Look at Coach Frazier’s record at Prairie View.  He is proven by the results that he got at Prairie View.   Coach Flea has been prepared by some very good coaches.  He called me and asked me for some advice when he first got the job and we spoke at length.  He doesn’t have an ego and he understands his role and he takes it very seriously.  Coach Broadway is a vet and he’s been through this before.  He’s been through challenging times but he’s long lasting and he has always come out on top.  Coach Kerm is another solid individual.  He took his success from Winston-Salem to Delaware State.  He implemented his system and he has been patient.  All of these guys are good ball coaches and good men and no one should be surprise that they are having the success that they are having”.

Are you surprised to see perennial power SCSU and last year’s champ NSU struggle to the degree that they have?

“There is so much parity in the league I wouldn’t say that they are struggling.  Norfolk loss one ball game off of a flag.  Right now, their records don’t match their coaching and for whatever reason, they haven’t caught their rhythm or hit their stride.  There is not a coach in the league who works to finish second.  Everyone wants to finish first but someone has to lose.  Those are still good football teams but their records just don’t show it”.

Interestingly enough, you kind of called this whole thing back in July.  At the MEAC Press Luncheon you were quoted as saying, in regards to NSU being selected to repeat as conference champions, If all that mattered, just give out the trophy now to who they picked first and why play the games? I don’t pay any attention to that and it doesn’t really matter to me.”   Should we expect to see you on ESPN College Gameday alongside Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit once your coaching days are done?

“We will see.  I am going to be honest, that is something that I am interested in and a lot of people have asked me about that.   It is something that draws and interests me and we’ll see many years from now if God pushes me that way.  When I made that statement though, it wasn’t because Norfolk was picked to win.  You still have to get in the ring, put on the gloves and fight.  That is just a strong belief that was instilled in me by my dad.  I also said that because when I looked around that room, I saw a good group of coaches who were looking forward to competing.  It was nothing against Norfolk State, but you have to play the game”.

Now I know it’s early and there’s a lot of football left to be played but, as I’m sure you know, Tennessee State is 7-0 and looks poised for a playoff run if they continue their string of success.  Considering you make no bones about the fact that you hate to lose, how special would it be for you to meet the Tigers again in the FCS Playoffs?

Coach Rod Reed is doing an exceptional job at Tennessee State.  Everybody counted him out and was ready to push him out of the door.  He’s a quiet assassin and his mind is always working.   They came up here and kicked our tails.  They have proven that they are one of the best teams in the nation.  Hopefully they don’t get slighted like some other teams have been slighted in the past.  If that road comes to show, that means that we were able to stay focus and be in that position (to make the playoffs). I am sure that it will be good and it will be challenging”.

I watched a Youtube clip of the Marching Wildcats at South Carolina State and somewhere near the end of the clip I saw a figure that looked a lot like you grooving in front of the band.  I know sometimes you can’t remember last week’s game, but does that ring a bell at all?

“(Guilty Laugh) Yeah it does. We have a closeness with our band that is tremendous.  Donovan Wells and his staff does a tremendous job with the band.  Our band gives a valiant effort to do the things to get us going.  I feel like our football team is a part of the band and the band is a part of our team.  I go down and do things like that with the band to show them that I appreciate their professionalism, their high productivity, their consistency, their detail, I appreciate all of that.  There are times that I go over and just watch their practices and see how in to it they are and how focus they are to put on a good show and represent us.  So in return we have to make sure that we do the necessary things to represent them because they deserve to be represented at a high level.  So yes you did.  I went down there and cut loose for about 15 seconds, but that was just to show the band my appreciation for all that they do for our team and our university.

And let me say this, people can talk all they want about Bethune-Cookman football, but we know the lead ship here at Bethune-Cookman is the Bethune-Cookman Band.  And I have no problem with that because it give me an opportunity to have my program a part of greatness and our band is greatness.  I really look forward to having a chance to interact with them and I thank Mr. Wells for opening up the door and allowing our team to have that type of interaction with the band.  

There is a mutual respect between me and Donovan Wells and I tell people this all of the time.  Donovan Wells is Coach Jenkins in charge of the band and Coach Jenkins is Donovan Wells in charge of the football team because we’re one and the same.  We’re very aggressive, we’re very detailed, we’re very serious about our craft, and we’re very demanding.  Sometimes I go and watch this guy in practice and preparation and I say this guy should be a football coach.  I have a very high level of respect for him because of the way he shows up every day and do his job. 

He knows that I honor him and I honor the band and he supports and honor our team.  We’re two men who have a very high level or respect for one another.  If Donovan sees one of my guys out of line he jumps right in them and I do the same thing to the band members”.

Coach do you want to give us any hints on what you’ll be performing (with the band) after the game this Saturday?

“(Laughs) I wish I knew.  I don’t even know what I am going to do when I hang up this phone today.

 I heard the other day and I was trying to figure out if that was me.  But I heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  My wife keeps telling me that I have mental problems.  I have been trying to deny it but I don’t know (anymore).  She tells me you do the same thing seven days a week and she says that you have a plan for Monday through Sunday of what you will eat, from the time that you will eat, you have everything scheduled.  Yet you expect different results out of me when it comes to cooking.  That just lets you know what I deal with every day.  I guess that means that I am insane.  Hey but if it works for me then I guess I am okay with being insane”.

Football: Lindy’s ranks BCU football #14 in its first Preseason Poll

We are roughly three months away from the start of the college football season.  This is right about the time when your favorite bookstore’s magazine section become inundated with college and professional football preview publications (which don’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things but they are awfully fun to look at and to fuss over…but I digress).

Lindy’s was the first to release their preseason FCS Top 25 Poll earlier this week and the Cats debuted at #14 in Lindy’s rankings.  Two other HBCU’s joined BCU in Lindy’s  Top 25 rankings; Grambling State at #23 and Jackson State at #25.

The Cats open up the 2012 season against Alabama State in Orlando in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Sunday, September 2nd.