FAMU celebrates football team, interim coach optimistic

Members of FAMU’s national championship team wait their turn to go on stage at the Lawson Center.
FAMU photo/Glenn Beil

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Before FAMU came up with a head coach to lead its football program, James Colzie was feeling pretty optimistic.

He was hopeful that the interim title that he’s held since Willie Simmons resigned on Jan.1 will be removed and he’ll still have an office in the field house.

Colzie’s name hasn’t been the one circulating since Simmons left to join Manny Diaz’s staff at Duke.  However, his conversations with Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes have been encouraging, he said.

“We’ve had our conversations about leading this football team,” Colzie said. “For the most part, they have been favorable. Ultimately it’s her call and the president is the one that makes the decision. Hopefully my name is the one that’s called.”

Colzie’s brief meeting with reporters last Friday came after the football team was celebrated in the Lawson Center for winning the Celebration Bowl to claim the HBCU National Championship. Recognition of the team’s championship win last month followed FAMU’s annual MLK convocation.

“It proves that it is our time,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., obviously still feeling the victory.

Mayor John Dailey presented a proclamation to the university. City Commissioners Dianne Williams Cox and Curtis Richardson were also on stage. The County was represented by commissioner Carolyn Cummings, chair of the board.

Since Simmons’ departure, he has been holding the team together as best he could, said Colzie.

“We were already talking about getting ready for the next one,” Colzie said. “There is a little bit of uncertainty right now, but that’s what football and life is about. You have adversity at time so what are you going to do to get over that. You can’t sit and sulk.”

The uncertainty is that reports for more than a week before Tuesday Board of Trustees meeting that Fort Valley head coach Shawn Gibbs was a frontrunner to fill the head coaching vacancy.

That brought push back from support organizations, including the National Alumni Association. That body returned a vote of no confidence in Sykes. Members were especially concerned about her silence during the search.

The players, meanwhile, have been waiting out the AD’s decision.

“It pretty hard,” said cornerback Kendall Bohler. “A lot of rumors going around saying that people leaving and things like that. Everybody is staying so we can prove the same thing next year.”

Bohler was hoping for an answer soon.

“it’s got to be quick,” he said. “Hopefully we will get a coach so we can keep everything in one spot.”

The search process has “all been a blur,” said running back Kelvin Dean. “But we have got to be thankful that we are in this position. We could have lost the coach and not be the national champ. It was pretty good day out today.”

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