Bethune-Cookman begins a rebuilding year with optimism. Don’t tell Bethune-Cookman head football coach Raymond Woodie that 2023 by most accounts is expected to be a rebuilding year. Woodie, hired on Feb. 5, after parting ways with longtime Wildcat head coach and assistant coach Terry Sims, is charged with rebuilding the B-CU football team to the expectations of the fanbase.
From that day, Woodie expressed a sense of urgency in bringing back the pride of the B-CU football program. A program that once stood atop the HBCU football world, winning the black national championships in both 2010 and 2013 under former head coach Brian Jenkins. Sims was a vital part to Jenkins’ staff, but was plagued with issues, many not of his own doing. A constant door in university leadership and the global pandemic greatly contributed to what could have been a spirited run as head coach at B-CU. Instead it resulted in back-to-back 2-9 seasons which was subpar by the school’s standards.
For B-CU, there was one more distraction that occurred between Sims’ release and Woodie’s hiring. Pro Football Hall of Famer Ed Reed was all but signed on as head coach of the Wildcats. He began work on campus without a signed contract. It turned out to be a debacle as a few profanity-laced tirades later, B-CU and Reed would part ways. In the aftermath, B-CU lost even more players to the transfer portal as the instability was a sticking point for several prospects and current players.
Woodie has steadied the ship. After coming in and stopping the bleeding, he managed to salvage some players from last year’s squad. He limped through the spring with the players he had and went to work in his area of specialty…recruiting. At FAU and at Oregon, alongside head coach Willie Taggart, Woodie helped load up the Oregon Ducks to their biggest showings in school history.
Friday, Woodie took the Wildcats through their first scrimmage. Fighting Florida’s blistering heatwave, the squad went through a series of drills before going live for the situational scrimmage.
While a quarterback battle is brewing, the B-CU offense was certainly potent. From the passing game to the running game, the B-CU offense showed the various elements of talent in their new offense. Last season, the team’s deficiency on offense was a big contributor to their failures. Woodie has taken dead aim at correcting that phase of the game.
“On all three aspects the guys played clean. I’m proud of them for that. They bent a little bit, but didn’t break. Obviously the adversity from everything you can think about…we stood strong and played through that adversity,” Woodie said.
The practice was in 98-degree Florida heat, with a heat index of 103 degrees. B-CU spread out mandatory water breaks and had the large training staff active in constantly hydrating and monitoring players.
The Wildcats have a few more weeks of preparation before their season opener against the Memphis Tigers, a game that will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Bethune-Cookman on-campus practice field is nearing completion
Bethune-Cookman Athletics Director Reggie Theus said in an early spring press conference that the first phase of what he envisions as a practice facility would get underway. Progress from that declaration is clear as a full crew is in the midst of installing a pro turf field behind the Handfield Center (ATC).
The area has been cleaned, the drainage system is being installed, all while leveling of the field for the underlying foundation of the field are being installed. HBCU Gameday captured the first aerial photos made public of the progress of this initiative.
Former NBA great Charles Barkely donated $1 million to the school and it was directed toward the facility, but as Theus pointed out, to completely outfit the practice facility, it needed more funding. “I would like to thank our school administration for standing firmly behind providing this for our student-athletes. In order to properly outfit the turf field we needed allocation of some resources and our administration stepped in for us,” Theus said. “I could not be happier with the support we’ve received for this project and our visions moving forward at Bethune-Cookman.”