It’s that time of year. It’s mid-season so let the coaching carousel begin. At this point, we have seen some institutions not wait until the end of the season to make changes. Some coaches are obviously on the “hot seat” while others could be surprised with the company line, “We are going in a different direction.”
Saint Augustine’s fired head coach Howard Feggins after an 0-6 start to the season. While it is a shocking fire mid-season, athletic departments have their reasons for the timing of the dismissal of their coaches. Still, it was a surprise to many, including St. Aug’s players, that he was not even allowed to finish his first year with the program.
Two weeks prior, Clark-Atlanta University fired legendary head coach Willie Slater. He took over the program last year and was just into his second season as head coach of the program. After a historic tenure at Tuskegee, where he won several SIAC championships, his tour at CAU just had too many issues…most of which were there long before he arrived.
While some universities will make their intentions known so that potential coaches are aware of their vacancies by the end of the season, some will wait until the conclusion of the season to make official announcements. In addition, this equation of HBCU coaches also must consider coaches who resign and those who choose to retire.
South Carolina State had a whole season head start as Oliver “Buddy” Pough declared his retirement after the season early on in the 2023 campaign. The SCSU administration has had all season to consider his replacement and is fully expected to name his successor shortly following the 2023 season.
Who are the best coaches suited for 2023 HBCU head coaching vacancies
Our staff at HBCU Gameday has compiled a short list of coaches who could step in at FCS programs next season. We did not rank these coaches in any particular order. The shortlist of candidates is as follows:
Terry Sims/Alabama State ( Football Operations)/Head Coach @ B-CU
Brian Jenkins/Edward Waters (Offensive Coordinator)/Head Coach @ B-CU/ASU
Shawn Gibbs/Fort Valley State (Head Coach)/NCA&T
Chennis Berry/Benedict College (Head Coach)/Southern
Henry Frazier III/Virginia State University ( Head Coach)/North Carolina Central
Richard Hayes Jr./Fayetteville State University (Head Coach)/Winston-Salem State
Alvin Parker/Virginia Union ( Head Coach)/ECSU
Courtney Coard/North Carolina Central (D- Coordinator)/NCA&T
Antone’ Sewell/Morgan State (Asst. HC/D-Coordinator)/Bowie State
Terry Sims currently serves as the Director of Football Operations at Alabama State University. Sims was released at Bethune-Cookman following the 2022 season. While the Wildcats never recovered from the COVID-19 halt, prior to that, Sims had a solid coaching record at B-CU. Initially brought to B-CU by Brian Jenkins, Sims took the reigns upon his departure. Sims was a part of unprecedented success in the Florida Blue Florida Classic. His team’s 31-27 victory in 2019 marked B-CU’s ninth consecutive triumph over Florida A&M and his fifth triumph in as many tries. Sims’ final record was 36-30 as Head Coach, with winning campaigns in four of his five years as an HBCU coach.
Brian Jenkins currently serves as offensive coordinator for Toriano Morgan’s resurgent Edward Waters Tigers team. Once considered one of the best minds in all of HBCU football, Jenkins took the B-CU Wildcats to two national titles. The first was in 2010, coupled with a MEAC championship, and the second in 2013 with another MEAC championship. Those teams compiled 10-win seasons in each of those championship years. Jenkins’ success was not limited to FCS opponents. In both 2013 and 2014, the Wildcats defeated FBS member Florida International University, with both triumphs coming on the road. Jenkins was named MEAC Coach of the Year three times during his stint as the Wildcats’ coach.
Shawn Gibbs is off to a 5-1 SIAC record this season with the Fort Valley State Wildcats. After a dip in production. Gibbs posted an 8-2 record last season, the team’s best output in over a decade. FVSU’s first year under Gibbs included victories over
SIAC West champ Tuskegee in the Red Tails Classic and Albany State in the Fountain City Classic along with his top players, Emanuel Wilson and Kelvin Durham, earning the SIAC Player, Offensive, Newcomer, and Freshman of the Year awards between the two. Wilson, currently a rookie with the Green Bay Packers, became Gibbs’ latest 1,000-yard rusher with 1,370 yards on 209 carries (6.6 ypc) and 17 touchdowns in 10 games. Durham threw for 1,994 yards with 16 scoring strikes for his awards. When he was awarded the head coaching position in 2022, it was his first head coaching position. Gibbs was a key figure in Rod Broadway’s success at NCA&T, developing HBCU legend Tarik Cohen as running backs coach for the Aggies.
Chennis Berry has turned around the Benedict Tigers to HBCU Division-II juggernauts. Berry came to BC from Southern University where he crafted historic offensive outputs for the Jaguars. He is no stranger to the varied levels of football. He has been at Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Morris Brown, Kentucky State, and Fort Valley State, while also serving internships with six different NFL teams. It’s no wonder the Tigers are rolling at 7-0 and 5-0 in the SIAC. His influence on the team’s overall output was instant. As a longtime offensive line coach, it is no wonder the running game for Benedict has allowed them to dominate the competition. With experience at Howard and Morgan State of the MEAC and as assistant head coach at Southern of the SWAC, Berry is well-acclimated to the HBCU Division-I climate.
Henry Frazier III is known for his offensive output. With so many FCS HBCUs suffering from anemic offenses, Frazier would be the answer to the problem. After taking over the Trojans last year, his offense averaged 416.6 yards per game. Spending years in the CIAA with Bowie State, he would carve a niche for himself as Bowie’s most successful coach at the time of his departure. He would go on to spend seven years at Prairie ViewA&M (2003-2010) as the head football coach, leading one of the greatest turnarounds in NCAA history. He took over a program that experienced the nation’s longest losing streak from 1989-98, dropping 80 straight contests prior to his arrival. Frazier and his staff built one of the top programs in the country securing winning seasons, championships, national rankings, and coach of the year honors. He also became the first African American and the first coach from a historically black college or university to receive the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award, given annually by The Sports Network to the top coach in the Football Championship Subdivision. Frazier would also thrive at North Carolina Central, being the coach during the team’s transition from D-II to D-I FCS in the MEAC.
Richard Hayes Jr is a walking defensive specialist…and we all know that defense wins championships. With over 20 years of experience, he has steadily elevated FSU during his tenure. Starting with four wins in his inaugural campaign, Hayes has steadily built the Broncos to an eight-win season in 2021 and a nine-win season in 2022. He coached the Broncos to a fourth consecutive CIAA football championship game. Hayes has produced a host of All-CIAA players in reviving the program that limped through a downtime before his arrival. He was the first FVSU coach to reach the championship in just his second season. That in itself is one of the things that makes Hayes an attractive proposition. His impact on FSU has been immediate and sustained.
Alvin Parker Jr. has the distinction of serving as both head football coach and Associate Athletic Director at Virginia Union. It might not hurt that legendary HBCU coach Joe Taylor is the sitting athletic director. Widely familiar with the CIAA Football landscape, the 2023 season marks Parker’s 25th year roaming the collegiate sidelines. Known for developing champions, Parker’s career has featured multiple conferences and divisional championships on the field, while guiding his offensive units to national leaders in multiple categories and coaching numerous all-conference and All-American student-athletes. Parker also serves as a leader in the profession, locally and nationally, serving on the AFCA Rules Committee, and AFCA Minority Issues Committee, President of the CIAA Coaches Association, and the founder and President of Home Team Foundation Inc. These accolades bode well for a program that might not only be looking for a football coach but a leader in all aspects of athletics. In 2022, Parker led Virginia Union to the playoffs for the first time in his head coaching tenure en route to being named the 2022 CIAA Coach of the Year. The Panthers went 9-1 overall and 7-1 in CIAA Football play. The team defeated No. 2 ranked Valdosta State in week two of the season to mark the highest-ranked team VUU has ever defeated. The Panthers ended the season ranked No. 16 in the country, the program’s highest end-of-season ranking in modern history. VUU went a perfect 5-0 on the road, on its way to starting the season 8-0. Parker hoists a 23-6 CIAA record and a 30-10 overall record after four playing seasons. Before the Panthers missed the 2020 season due to COVID-19, Parker guided the 2019 Panthers to their first national ranking in the AFCA poll after being ranked 25th entering week seven of the season, after earning a top 25 ranking from Lindy’s Magazine in the pre-season poll.
Courtney Coard serves as defensive coordinator for the North Carolina Central Eagles. He helped guide the Eagles to the 2022 Celebration Bowl national championship. Coard, who was a defensive tackle at NCCU from 2004-07, returns to his alma mater after spending the past six seasons as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at North Carolina A&T State University. Before serving as a defensive graduate assistant at the University of Georgia in 2015, the Charlotte native was North Carolina A&T’s defensive line coach from 2011-14, helping to establish one of the top defenses in the nation. He also was an assistant defensive line coach at Grambling State University from 2009-10. Considered one of the top prospective young coaches, Coard has experienced success as both a player and a coach. As a four-year starter on NCCU’s defensive front, he earned CIAA All-Rookie Team honors (2004) and played on two CIAA championship teams (2005, 2006), including a Black college national title in 2006. Coard has fine-tuned his skills as a coach under the tutelage of Trei Oliver.
Antoné Sewell serves as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Morgan State Bears. While the Bears are still striving to rebuild under second-year head coach Damon Wilson, it is apparent that their defense has been one of the strong suits. Coming from Bowie State with Wilson, he was a key to the dominance of Bowie State over the last several years. While coordinating the Bowie State defense, his team allowed an average of just under 14 points per game in 2021 as it claimed its third-straight CIAA title, its best showing under Sewell, and one of the best in the nation. Sewell spent five seasons in the SWAC on Henry Frazier’s Prairie View A&M squads in the mid-2000s. He helped coach the team to four NCAA statistical champions and four CIAA Defensive Rookie of the Year winners while coaching the 2019 CIAA Defensive Player of the Year and the 2019 HBCU Gameday Defensive Player of the Year. He also helped coach the 2021 AFCA Division II Defensive Player of the Year, while helping Bowie State to host its first-ever playoff game and playoff win.