Repost of “THE BELT”

The beltAt the conclusion of the 2012 Florida Blue Florida Classic, coach Brian Jenkins was seen hugging players, celebrating with the Marching Wildcats, and very conspicuously wearing a 2012 MEAC Champions Belt that was large enough and elaborate enough to make Hulk Hogan envy.

Some fifteen (15) or so minutes after first being spotted with his new ornate accessory, coach Jenkins met with members of the media for his normal postgame recap.  There it was again; this time prominently displayed on the conference room table almost touching the fiery coach’s left elbow.  There was no attempt at modesty.  No attempt to conceal it.  It was as if coach Jenkins was silently screaming for someone to ask about THE BELT…and so I did.

The third year coach rather foxily revealed that THE BELT was an inside thing between him and his team.  “I have been telling (our football team) about the belt.  You want to be the one to put on the belt in the end” Jenkins exclaimed.

At this past Saturday’s 2012 Championship Team Banquet inside the North Tower Ballroom at the Hilton Hotel located directly on Daytona Beach, coach Jenkins revealed to the 350 Wildcat supporters in attendance the inside story behind THE BELT.

The story goes as follows:

Shortly after being named as the fifteenth (15) head football coach at Bethune-Cookman, Brian Jenkins had a chance encounter with a Florida A&M football fan.  The FAMU fan approached the newly appointed coach and said let me show you something.  He reached into his back pocket and unfolded a piece of paper.  Listed on the paper were the results of all of the Florida Classics including the previous two (2); both of which FAMU won. 

The FAMU fan was undoubtedly sending a clear message to the precocious new coach of what he should expect when facing the mighty Rattlers.

As fate would have it, coach Jenkins bumped into the same Rattler fan nearly a year later.  The FAMU fan, feeling emboldened by his Rattlers’ upset victor over the Wildcats in the 2010 Florida Classic, even more vigorously than the year before flagged down coach Jenkins and again pulled out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket.  It was an up-to-date history of the Florida Classic results.  The FAMU fan proudly and boastfully pointed to his team’s upset win in 2010.  It was shortly after that encounter that the idea of THE BELT was conceived in Brian Jenkins’ mind.  Jenkins decided if his team could win the MEAC crown and win the Florida Classic, he would supply every graduating senior with his very own Championship Belt.

Senior Class awarded Championship Belts

Senior Class awarded Championship Belts

What better way to memorialize the hardwork, sacrifice, and dedication that’s required to become MEAC and Florida Classic champs than to provide the senior class with Championship Belts.  And besides, a Heavyweight caliber Championship Belt trumps a folded piece of paper any day.

Coach Jenkins’ statement to the media after the 2012 Florida Blue Florida Classic now makes so much more sense: “…in the end, you want to be the one to put on the belt.”

THE BELT is brilliant in everything that it represents.  It is the proverbial gauntlet slap in the face, a one-upper, a ‘step ya game up’ if you will.  It is a unique memento, it epitomizes excellence, symbolizes hardwork and sacrifice, and it is meant to draw a line in the sand.  If you want THE BELT, come and take it.  If you want to keep THE BELT, then be prepared to defend it.  So keep your folded piece of paper and I will raise you a Championship Belt.

Interestingly, coach Jenkins stated that the last time he spotted the FAMU fan who flagged him down and showed off his folded piece of paper was shortly after the 2010 season.  Coincidence? Maybe but not likely!

A source within the BCU Athletic department could not confirm whether THE BELT is a one year phenomenon or a new tradition for each senior class who wins both a MEAC and Florida Classic championship in the same season.  Personally, I hope this becomes a new tradition.  A new goal of sorts for each class of seniors.  I think coach Jenkins said it best: “in the end, you want to be the one to put on the belt”.

Congratulations to all the guys who earned the right to wear THE BELT!!!

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#18 Wildcats bounce back with 42-12 drubbing of Hampton

Dion Hanks

Dion Hanks

A week after losing its first MEAC contest in over two seasons, 18th ranked Bethune-Cookman bounced back in impressive fashion thrashing the Hampton Pirates 42-12  on Senior Day in Daytona Beach.

The Wildcats racked up 557 yards of total offense including 475 rushing yards in the contest.

BCU opened the game’s scoring on an 11 play, 87 yard touchdown drive on its second possession of the contest. The Wildcats ran the ball 10 straight times on the drive with the only pass attempt resulting in a 6 yard touchdown reception from Jackie Wilson to Cary White.

The Wildcats doubled their lead on their next possession but needed just 4 plays this time to hit pay dirt.  Isidore Jackson, who finished the contest with 102 yards rushing on 9 attempts, scampered down the right sideline for 53 yards to set the Cats up with 1st and goal at the 6.  Two plays later, Wilson twisted his way into the endzone on a quarterback keeper.

“We came out focused and ready to play” coach Brian Jenkins stated after the contest.  “We are a good football team.  A lot of people doubted us after last week and that’s okay.”  “We had a talk as a team.  There was no panic; it was just (about) cleaning up our act and we did that.  The approach we took is we’re not going to let it go to the score cards.”

Anthony Prevost successfully converted a 34 yard field goal to give Hampton their only points of the first half.   But the Wildcats would respond immediately needing to travel just 15 yards for their third touchdown of the half. Darian Baker took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the Hampton 15 yard line.  3 plays later,  Quentin Williams finished the drive on a 1 yard option keeper.

Brodrick Waters scored on a 2 point conversion attempt and put BCU ahead 22-3 at the half.

Hampton had several chances to get back into the contest early in the 3rd but the Wildcat’s tenacious defense kept the Pirates at bay.  After HU trimmed the lead to 22-6, the BCU offense fumbled on its first two possessions of the 3rd quarter but the defense held firm and prevented the Pirates from capitalizing on either of the turnovers holding them to a missed FG attempt and stopping them on a 4th and 1 respectively.

Freshman running back Michael Jones pushed the BCU lead to 28-6 midway through the 3rd quarter on a nifty 30 yard run.  Jones made a couple of HU defenders miss and outran a few others on his way to the endzone.  “I stretched the play to the right, the defense was over-pursuing, I found a cutback lane and hit it” Jones remarked  in the postgame presser.

Quentin Williams and Drexler Dixon added rushing touchdowns in the 4th quarter for the Wildcats while the Pirates’ Marcus Hampton recorded HU’s only touchdown of the game in the final frame.

“It was good to end my last regular season home game with a (convincing) win ” senior defensive end Tevin Toney stated.  He went on to state, “it goes to show you that the hard work that we put in pays off in games.”

Toney and his defensive mates forced 2 Hampton interceptions and limited the Pirate offense to just 216 yards.

BCU takes on archrival Florida A&M next week in the Florida Blue Florida Classic in Orlando.  A Florida Classic win would grant the Wildcats at least a share of the MEAC crown for the third time in four years.  A win would also secure BCU’s 3rd trip to the playoffs in 4 years as the Cats would be awarded the conference’s automatic bid.

THE BELT

The beltAt the conclusion of this past season’s Florida Blue Florida Classic, coach Brian Jenkins was seen hugging players, celebrating with the Marching Wildcats, and very conspicuously wearing a 2012 MEAC Champions Belt that was large enough and elaborate enough to make Hulk Hogan envy.

Some fifteen (15) or so minutes after first being spotted with his new ornate accessory, coach Jenkins met with members of the media for his normal postgame recap.  There it was again; this time prominently displayed on the conference room table almost touching the fiery coach’s left elbow.  There was no attempt at modesty.  No attempt to conceal it.  It was as if coach Jenkins was silently screaming for someone to ask about THE BELT…and so I did.

The third year coach rather foxily revealed that THE BELT was an inside thing between him and his team.  “I have been telling (our football team) about the belt.  You want to be the one to put on the belt in the end” Jenkins exclaimed.

At this past Saturday’s 2012 Championship Team Banquet inside the North Tower Ballroom at the Hilton Hotel located directly on Daytona Beach, coach Jenkins revealed to the 350 Wildcat supporters in attendance the inside story behind THE BELT.

The story goes as follows: 

Shortly after being named as the fifteenth (15) head football coach at Bethune-Cookman, Brian Jenkins had a chance encounter with a Florida A&M football fan.  The FAMU fan approached the newly appointed coach and said let me show you something.  He reached into his back pocket and unfolded a piece of paper.  Listed on the paper were the results of all of the Florida Classics including the previous two (2); both of which FAMU won. 

The FAMU fan was undoubtedly sending a clear message to the precocious new coach of what he should expect when facing the mighty Rattlers.

As fate would have it, coach Jenkins bumped into the same Rattler fan nearly a year later.  The FAMU fan, feeling emboldened by his Rattlers’ upset victor over the Wildcats in the 2010 Florida Classic, even more vigorously than the year before flagged down coach Jenkins and again pulled out a folded piece of paper from his back pocket.  It was an up-to-date history of the Florida Classic results.  The FAMU fan proudly and boastfully pointed to his team’s upset win in 2010.  It was shortly after that encounter that the idea of THE BELT was conceived in Brian Jenkins’ mind.  Jenkins decided if his team could win the MEAC crown and win the Florida Classic, he would supply every graduating senior with his very own Championship Belt.

Senior Class awarded Championship Belts

Senior Class awarded Championship Belts

What better way to memorialize the hardwork, sacrifice, and dedication that’s required to become MEAC and Florida Classic champs than to provide the senior class with Championship Belts.  And besides, a Heavyweight caliber Championship Belt trumps a folded piece of paper any day.

Coach Jenkins’ statement to the media after the 2012 Florida Blue Florida Classic now makes so much more sense: “…in the end, you want to be the one to put on the belt.” 

THE BELT is brilliant in everything that it represents.  It is the proverbial gauntlet slap in the face, a one-upper, a ‘step ya game up’ if you will.  It is a unique memento, it epitomizes excellence, symbolizes hardwork and manhood, and it is meant to draw a line in the sand.  If you want THE BELT, come and take it.  If you want to keep THE BELT, then be prepared to defend it.  So keep your folded piece of paper and I will raise you a Championship Belt.

Interestingly, coach Jenkins stated that the last time he spotted the FAMU fan who flagged him down and showed off his folded piece of paper was shortly after the 2010 season.  Coincidence? Maybe but not likely!

A source within the BCU Athletic department could not confirm whether THE BELT is a one year phenomenon or a new tradition for each senior class who wins both a MEAC and Florida Classic championship in the same season.  Personally, I hope this becomes a new tradition.  A new goal of sorts for each class of seniors.  I think coach Jenkins said it best: “in the end, you want to be the one to put on the belt”. 

Congratulations to all the guys who earned the right to wear THE BELT!!!

Live Chat – Bethune-Cookman/Coastal Carolina 1st round FCS playoffs, Sat. Nov. 24th

Credits – Jerrime Bell / Hailwildcats.com

Hello Wildcats Fans!

Hailwildcats.com will host a Live Chat during this Saturday’s 1st round FCS Playoff game between Bethune-Cookman and Coastal Carolina.The Live Chat will provide posters with a highly interactive platform in which they can discuss and follow the game as it is happening live. The Live Chat interfaces with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

@BCUAthletics, @BCUExaminer, and @HailWildcats Twitter feeds will interface with the Live Chat. This will allow the posters to  interact with the men and women who are dedicated to bringing you the most in-depth coverage of Bethune-Cookman football.  The Chat will also allow users to access the most up to date gameday information from one centralized location.

You can participate in the Live Chat by posting your opinions/feedback/questions or by simply following along. All are encouraged to participate.

The Live Chat Link will become active at approximately 1:30 p.m. on gameday and will be available on the HailWildcats.com front page.

Thanks for your support and Hail Wildcats!
JB

Most memorable Florida Classic Moments

In less than 24 hours, the Florida A&M Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will meet in the 33rd Florida Blue Florida Classic.  The contest has grown into one of the premier HBCU showcases attracting over one and half million fans since its inception in 1978.  The two teams have combined for eleven (11) conference titles during that same timeframe and have created many memorable moments in this annual showdown.

Players and coaches from both teams will surely seek to create their own magical Florida Classic moment when the two teams square off Saturday at 2:00 in the Citrus Bowl.  FAMU coach Earl Holmes, who is a former Rattler player, was asked about his favorite Florida Classic moment at today’s Kickoff Luncheon.  Coach Holmes replied “ask me that same question after tomorrow’s game”.  With that in mind, here are some of the most memorable Florida Classic moments.

Memorable Florida Classic Moments

1978 – Florida A&M trailed BCU 17-0 at halftime but rallied to a 27-17 victory.  Rudy Hubbard’s squad went on to win the 1-AA (now FCS) National Championship that season.

1994 – BCU QB Tony Kerrin connected with Morris Nobles on a 2 yard TD reception in the corner of the endzone to give the Wildcats a 27-24 lead with :47remaining in the contest.  BCU went on to win by the same margin and coach Cy McClairen earned his first victory over the Rattlers as a head coach.

2003 – Daytona Beach native and current Chicago Bear, Eric Weems, scored 3 touchdowns and helped the Wildcats rally from a 28-10 halftime deficit. The final touchdown was set up by a fake punt attempt on 4th and 17 with less than 2:00 remaining in the contest.  A FAMU player was flagged for pass interference on the fake punt and BCU was awarded an automatic first down.

Later in the drive quarterback Allen Suber avoided a sack, rolled to his right, and hit Weems who beat triple coverage just beyond the pylon with 9 seconds remaining in the game. BCU prevailed 39-35 in front of the largest crowd (73,358) in Florida Classic history.

2004 – Florida Classic fans were treated to the first overtime in the history of the series;  Wildcats fans were treated with a 58-52 win.

FAMU’s Ben Dougherty (QB) and Roosevelt Kiser (WR) had career days in that contest.  Midway through the third quarter, Dougherty connected with Kiser on a 66 yard TD reception and extended FAMU’s lead to 45-24.

Head coach Alvin Wyatt then made the decision to move former NFL All-Pro defensive back Nick Collins from safety to cornerback with the assignment of blanketing Kiser.  The move proved to be very effective for the maroon and gold.  The FAMU passing game was severely limited as a result of the coaching decision and the Wildcats outscored FAMU 34-7 from that point forward.  Rodney Johnson’s 15 yard touchdown run in overtime sealed the victory for BCU.

Coach Wyatt was so overcome with emotion that he fainted (due to dehydration) and had to be carted off by medical personnel.

Not only was the 2004 victory the first overtime win in Florida Classic history, it was also the first time that BCU secured three consecutive victories over its arch-rival.

Joe Taylor resigns immediately

Florida A&M head coach Joe Taylor has coached his final game for the Rattlers.  Taylor originally announced he would retire at the end of the season, but after meeting with FAMU athletic director Derek Horne on Wednesday, the legendary head coach decided to retire from the coaching ranks effective immediately.

Former FAMU standout and current defensive coordinator, Earl Homes, will serve as the interim head coach when the Rattlers face North Carolina Central for homecoming this week and in next week’s end of the season showdown against Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic.

Joe Taylor’s 233 career wins ranks him third all-time amongst HBCU coaches.  His .648 winning percentage during his FAMU tenure ranks him ahead of noteworthy FAMU coaches Rudy Hubbard (.630) and Ken Riley (.561); and virtually ties him with Billy Joe (.651).   Under his leadership, FAMU shared the 2010 MEAC conference crown with Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State; the Rattlers received recognition in 2009 for having the MEAC’s most significant APR improvement; the football program was stabilized after coming off of NCAA probation; and ESPN College Gameday broadcasted their first ever telecast from an HBCU campus.

Despite his on the field and off the field accomplishments in Tallahassee, Taylor never seemed to live up to the expectations of the Rattler faithful.  Taylor is 0-5 against FAMU’s historical rivals Howard, Southern, Tennessee State, and Bethune-Cookman since the middle of last season.  

I have no insight on the inner-workings of the FAMU athletic department, nor am I suggesting that coach Taylor was the best man to advance FAMU football.  Having said that, Joe Taylor is by all accounts a genuinely great man and he is a legendary HBCU football coach.  He earned the right to receive a more dignified ending to his illustrious career.  Unfortunately for him, he was not giving the honor to bow out gracefully.

Godspeed Coach Taylor.  Thank you for your contribution to HBCU football and for shaping the lives of hundreds of young men.

God’s Speed Tank Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Former Bethune-Cookman University Athletic Director Lloyd “Tank” Johnson,” recognized by many as the father of what is today’s Florida Classic, passed away Sunday. He was 77.

A 1958 graduate, Johnson served as athletic director from 1972 to 1991, His visionary leadership oversaw the Wildcats’ ascent to Division I and partnership with Florida A&M’s Hansel Tookes in laying the groundwork for the Florida Classic, which made its debut in Tampa in 1978. The archrivals had met to capacity crowds at Florida State University, Daytona International Speedway and Orlando, the current site, prior to that.

Johnson also served as a defensive coordinator for the Wildcat football team from 1961-78 in addition to coaching track and field in the days where coaches would oversee multiple sports.

He was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall Of Fame in 1995 and is also included in several addition halls of fame, including the 100-percent Wrong Club of Atlanta.

As a student, Johnson was on the Wildcat football, basketball, track and golf teams in 1952-54. After a two-year stint in the army he returned to B-CC in the fall of 1956 and competed in football, golf and track for the next two school years before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1958.

Johnson also served on the City of Daytona Beach Planning Board.

He is survived by his wife, Gwendolyn, and was preceded in death by his daughter, Crystal Lynn.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.  Please visit www.b-cuathletics.com for updates and continued coverage of the passing of a Wildcat legend.

A Candid Conversation with Coach Brian Jenkins

Coach Brian Jenkins speaks with reporters after his team's 26-16 victory in the Florida Classic

Bethune-Cookman University head coach Brian Jenkins just concluded his second season at the helm of the Wildcat football program.  The Wildcats followed up a remarkable 10-2 season in Jenkins’ first year with an 8-3 overall record and a 2nd place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.  Through 23 games, Jenkins has won 18, compiling an impressive .783 winning percentage for the Daytona Beach, FL institution.  While wins and losses are important to every coach, Jenkins’ real testament has been in the way his players have performed off the field.  Since his arrival, graduation rates have improved and players have become a mainstay in the community, forging a strong relationship with the Daytona Beach, FL community and surrounding areas.

On Thursday,  HailWildcats.com contributor Bradford Gillens and I had the pleasure of speaking to Coach Jenkins via conference call on everything from his rating of the team’s performance this past season to his prediction of this year’s Liberty Bowl. (Jenkins is a 1993 graduate of U. of Cincinnati and the Bearcats take on Vanderbilt in this year’s game).

Questions and Answers:

 
Assess your team’s performance this season, what grade would you give and why?  How about yourself; assess your own coaching performance.  What grade would you give yourself and why.

“I would give us a B.  We started out OK…then got flat mid-way and got punched in the mouth.  Once we got punched in the mouth we finished strong and I really thought an injustice was done by not selecting us for the playoffs….but you know, sometimes God sends you things for you to learn for the future…(the snub) taught us that you can’t stumble and slip up.”

On his coaching grade…

“I would give myself a B or B-.  I think some things contributed to us going flat.  One of the #1 things I did after the (North Carolina) A&T game was evaluate myself and correct some things I was doing…then I went back and looked at the coaching staff, then we went to the kids. I think I did a decent job of not panicking and letting the floodgates open and as a result we were able to finish the season with six straight wins.”

This season, the offense employed more of a “ground and pound” attack with your stable of runningbacks, which was a stark contrast to the vaunted Speedway offense we saw last year.  Was that a philosophical change due to the departure of Danny Barrett and Mark Orlando and arrival of Rob Spence, or simply a result of you tailoring the offense to the strengths of your personnel?

“It was definitely tailored to the strength of our personnel.  It’s the same offense we ran last year with just a tweak here and there.  Every year I’ve been in this offense we’ve always had a decent running game.  It wasn’t a change in philosophy, it also goes to show people we can do both.  We can run the ball when needed and pass when needed.  So that should definitely help us going into year three.”

What happened with Jamarr Robinson?  He began the season in impressive fashion against Prairie View, but by mid-season was relegated to the #3 QB on the roster?  Why didn’t we see more of him the second half of the season?

“Well Jamarr got a serious injury that takes such a long time to recover from.  Every time we would put him back in the game to try to give him some reps he would re-injure himself.  He suffered from turf toe in both feet and as a result it reduced his role a little bit.  Luckily for us David (Blackwell) and Jackie (Wilson) were able to step up in his absence and play at a high level for us.”

Ryan Davis was selected as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year following a stellar senior season but was probably over shadowed this preseason by other Wildcats.  What do you attribute to Davis having such a breakout year?

“Definitely his work ethic, attitude, knowing his role, accepting coaching; anything a star player would contain, he had it and did it.  I think he finally figured out his craft at the DE spot and he said “Hey I’m gonna give it everything I got so when I hang this Wildcat hat up, I’ll know I gave it my all.  I know he’ll tell you he would not have been able to play at that level if the other 10 guys on the defense weren’t performing at a high level as well.”

Talk about the play of Ryan Lewis and Reggie Sandilands.   What have they meant to this team since you’ve been here?

“Very solid, experienced players.  Very sound, even though people were not thinking their name were getting called a lot.  Those kids brought a lot to our team and conference, but both of those guys are really, really sound.  Just to show you how good of kids they are, one is graduating in December (Sandilands) and the other is on pace to graduate in May (Lewis).  You can’t say enough about guys like that.”

On how he feels about them…

“Very proud, because it allows me to know that the message me and the coaching staff are preaching is getting through to them.  It also lets me know that they take pride in being a part of the bloodline and vision Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune set forth during the inception of the university.  I told those guys, when your playing days are done, your names will fall amongst the likes of Larry Little because of the type of career had here and the type of men you have become.  When I look at the way they have responded on the field, in the classroom, and in the community it let’s me know that they really believe that there is something special about being a Cookman Man”

There hasn’t been a MEAC team advance past the first round in an FCS Playoff game since 1999.  Whereas you have an upstart program like Old Dominion who in 3 years has produced more playoff victories than every school in the MEAC except FAMU, SCSU and NC A&T.  What are your thoughts on what the conference can do to improve their chances of victory in the postseason?

“The first thing we have to do is get more than one team in.  Anytime you have a conference that’s putting four and five teams in the playoffs every year, they’re gonna have a chance at more victories.  I think the teams with the best records should be selected to the playoffs regardless of conference affiliation.”

On Old Dominion’s rise to power in such a short while:

“A school like ODU has progressed really fast, but again you have to look at their conference. They play in the CAA and that conference historically gets 4-5 teams in the playoffs every year.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t play with them.  A team from our conference (Hampton) took them to the wire in the beginning of the season (45-42 loss)….what we have to do is schedule teams like that through the year and beat those teams in the regular season, if we can do that we’ll see things take a turn for the better for the MEAC.”

On the MEAC’s perception among other conferences

“I don’t think college football respects our conference…if you look at the coaches we have in this conference, they’ve put together really good programs. Why college football doesn’t respect our conference is beyond me, I just don’t understand it.”

On FCS Playoffs being compared to BCS

“You know, I never understood what Boise State was feeling until this season when we were passed up for the playoffs.  This year you got two teams in that were 7-4…and neither of those teams beat teams that were at the top of their conference.  I think some things need to be re-evaluated or looked at.  We (MEAC) definitely need to have more than one team in the playoffs.”

Are you still upset about your team’s playoff snub?  How well do you believe your team would have matched up against this year’s playoff participants?

“I feel we would’ve matched up very strongly. No disrespect to any playoff teams, but we would’ve come away with some victories in the playoffs this season.  We were healthy unlike last year, we had some depth unlike last year, and we would’ve gone into this game with our best team to achieve victory.  I was really looking forward to having an opportunity to prove that we deserved to be in the playoff field.”

What are some of the immediate needs B-CU needs to address in order to get back to their championship form of 2010?

“Defensively we’re losing Ryan Davis, Ryan Lewis, and Reggie Sandilands.  We’re also losing Jean Fanor, who’s just as good as any safety in the conference.  So it’s definitely a task trying to replace those guys.  That’s kind of like all your stallions have run and won all the races they can run for you and you have to let them go free.”

Can you provide a general overview of your offseason calendar?

“Work, work, work, work, and more work.  First in the classroom, second in the community, and third in the weight room.  We do have a calendar because we’re very structured and detailed here…so we’ll evaluate ourselves very strongly going into spring practice.  Take it into spring and correct and recover.  Then we’ll get a chance to get in and evaluate some young talent.”

When does spring football begin?

“We never really have a set date.  Our guys have to earn the right to participate in spring football.   There are certain tests our guys have to go through in order to practice spring football.  I’ve been around coaching for a very long time.  Sometimes I think players lose sight of the fact that football is a privilege, not a right, therefore you need to work to get that gift and not take it lightly.  Our guys will forever be grateful and be humble for the opportunity to play football at the Great Bethune-Cookman University.”

Looks like your alma mater drew Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl.  Do you still follow the Bearcats on a weekly basis, and if you do, what is your prediction of the game?

“I follow as much as I can.  I don’t get back to support them as much as I’d like.  A good friend of mine and godfather of my son, Tim Banks, is the co-Defensive Coordinator there and I’m supporting what he’s doing.  The head coach (Butch Jones) has the program going in the right direction.  You don’t hear about the players getting arrested or doing foolish things.  That’s how you know he has them headed on the right path.  Coach Franklin is also doing a great job at Vanderbilt.”

Coach thank you for that long winded answer but you still never made a prediction.  Who are you going with in the game Cincinnati or Vanderbilt?

“(Laughs) I see you caught on to me there.  I thought by giving you a long answer where I talked good about both schools I would get out of having to choose one of them.  I’m going with the Bearcats to win and I know this is gonna come back to get me because I’m gonna see James (Franklin) at the coaches convention and I’m gonna have to buy dinner or something if that does happen.”

You created quite a buzz with those new helmets.  Did you have any idea that the fans would react so favorably to the head gear?  Who designed the helmets?  You now have 75 uniform combinations.  I’ve heard some call BCU the Oregon/Maryland of the HBCU world with all of the uniform combinations.  Who will decide which uniforms will be worn in each game next season?  Can we expect any new alterations to the uniforms and/or head gear next season?

“I told my wife that these helmets might be my tombstone if they don’t go right.  It kept the traditional colors, but brought some freshness and newness to the program…very happy it all worked out.  And I tell you what; it kind of gave us some juice as a team.  We brought out the first (maroon and gold) ones against Morgan St. (49-23) and we had a big win and the second set (black) we wore in the Florida Classic (26-16 over FAMU). 

There is still more (uniform changes) to come”

On the chief designer of the helmets

“I designed the helmets.”

On B-CU the Oregon/Maryland of the HBCU world with all of the uniform combinations…

“I’m starting to hear that and that’s OK with me.  Anything we can take from good programs and use for ourselves we’ll definitely take that.  I don’t think that’s a bad tag to have.”

On who will decide which uniform combinations will be worn in each game next season…

“We have a Leadership committee selected with a group of young men from every class.  They select the uniforms they want to wear.  In order for that selection to take place, they have to perform in the classroom and have no violations during the week.”

How rewarding was it for you to win your first Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Classic this season?

“It was very rewarding.  Anytime you can beat a high caliber team like FAMU it’s very rewarding.  Especially knowing last year you had ‘em on the ropes and had ‘em staggered and they come back and got you.  It was also good for me to go up against a coaching legend such as Joe Taylor and I will always consider it to be a bright spot in my coaching career.”

Coach we’re 13 days away from your two year anniversary as the head coach of Bethune-Cookman.  What stands out as the thing you are most proud of accomplishing in that time period?

“The off the field success, man.  The culture change by our young men, graduation rate of our athletes…and they’re not just getting bachelor’s degrees they’re attaining master’s degrees as well.  Last year I had two graduates from the Master’s program, this year I have eight.  I tell the guys all the time as long as we take care of things off the field, everything on the field will fall into place.”

“I also want to thank you guys for all of the hard work that you do covering Bethune-Cookman University football.  You guys do a first class job with your sites and continue to put the word out about all of the good things we’re doing here, so thank you guys again.”

Florida Classic could see Millionth Fan

Bethune Band

Orlando, Florida (NOVEMBER 2, 2011) –  Game officials are preparing for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Classic between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University, and it is possible that a special milestone may be reached at this year’s edition the nation’s top HBCU Classic.

Should the game reach an attendance mark of 63,200, the one-millionth fan of the game since it came to Orlando in 1997 will walk through the gates of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. Heading into this year’s 32nd overall edition of the game, 936,800 fans have attended the game in its 14 previous years in Orlando. Game officials expect to hit the 1,000,000 mark this year based on current ticket sales projections combined with an annual attendance average of nearly 67,000.

“Since 1997, FAMU, B-CU and the City of Orlando have truly built something special together,” said Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan. “The Classic weekend is one of the great rivalry experiences in college athletics and this year’s game could see fan number 1,000,000 walk through the gates — yet another milestone to celebrate in a series already rich in tradition.

”Should the 1,000,000th fan enter the gates, he/she will receive:· Two free Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Classic tickets in Orlando for life· Instant seat upgrade for two in the Uprights Club for this year’s game· A BCBS Florida Classic merchandise prize pack. 

The 2011 BCBSFL Classic – featuring the McDonald’s halftime show — takes place on Saturday, November 19 at 2:30 p.m. Fans interested in purchasing tickets should go to Ticketmaster.com and for game information, log on to www.FloridaClassic.org.