As a surprise to no one, Florida A&M University head football coach Alex Wood will not return to lead the football program next season. Wood resigned a couple of days after a loss to Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. Although FAMU holds a tremendous lead in the series matchup, 49-22-1, this year would be the seventh consecutive loss to BCU.
It is understood that there are two games a FAMU football coach must win each year for job security — Homecoming and the Florida Classic. A FAMU coach could probably go 2-9 and get less grief from FAMU fans if those two wins are Homecoming and the Florida Classic. If the truth be told, considering the Homecoming and Florida Classic losses under Coach Wood’s tenure, the FAMU fans were much kinder to Wood than they were to some of his predecessors. I’m not justifying that position but it is what it is.
To those of us alums not directly involved with the FAMU football program, Coach Wood seemed to be a nice guy. He was close to winning several games this season but it didn’t happen for him and the team. When a new coach replaces all of the previous staff except one person, FAMU fans expect a winning season quickly. Wood might have accomplished that with the opportunity to coach the team another season but that was not to be.
FAMU offensive line coach Edwin Pata was named interim head coach by outgoing athletic director Milton Overton who has taken the athletic director position at Kennesaw State. Overton will be succeeded by interim athletic director John Eason.
Pata is that only person from the previous coaching staff that Wood did not replace. Pata has coached at FAMU for five years and earned his masters degree in sports management from FAMU. The FAMU football team has already let it be known that they want Coach Pata as the permanent head football coach. They’ve even started a hashtag on social media — #NoOneButCoachPata.
Edwin Pata is a graduate of North Miami High School where he earned honors on the gridiron as an All-State tight end. He earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and played football under Coach Bobby Bowden. Pata was very complimentary of Coach Wood’s progress with the program. Pata could be that person to make the program a winner again.
In the meantime, a nine-person search committee for the FAMU head football coach has been established. The committee members are: interim Athletic Director John Eason, former FAMU trustee Spurgeon McWilliams, FAMU National Alumni Association President Lt. Col. Gregory Clark, Rattler Boosters Treasurer Selvin Cobb, FAMU professor Ebenezer Oriaku, FAMU linebacker Elijah Richardson, 220 Quarterback Club President Eddie Jackson, SBI Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud and FAMU’s director of track and field Darlene Moore. Although the need for a Committee is questionable, it would really be great if the search committee included FAMUans from South Florida who are not current FAMU employees.
It has been stated that there is no timeline for selecting the head coach but that interim status does impact recruiting. Dr. Larry Robinson was named permanent president of FAMU today. The selections to fill the interim athletic director and head football coach positions should not be rushed but should be filled as quickly as possible for the sake of program stability.
Let’s Go, Rattlers!