After beginning the season 2-2 for the first time since he was hired as Florida A&M University’s head football coach in 2014, Alex Wood has seen his Rattlers struggle during their painful 4-game losing streak, after falling to Hampton 31-27.
Ultimately, college football is a business, with the most important element of that business being wins and losses. FAMU has shown progress in many areas since Wood took the helm in 2014. Last season, the Rattlers post a .500 record (4-4) in MEAC play for the first time since the 2012 season. The Rattlers also managed to improve enough in the classroom for the NCAA to lift their Academic Progress Rate related sanctions.
While FAMU’s football program has undoubtedly improved in recent years, Wood sank to a 7-23 record after Saturday’s MEAC rivalry loss to Hampton University. Just a week prior, the Rattlers lost during their homecoming game against North Carolina A&T. Pressure seemed to boil over in the loss as starting quarterback Ryan Stanley was benched late in the third quarter. Stanley returned to the field after Vincent Jefferies was sacked on his first two pass attempts.
Stanley was asked about being benched. “I didn’t talk to coach Wood after it — wait, I did talk to coach — but first I got on the headset with Coach Spieler, and it wasn’t for my performance, they’re just going to go with Vince. And even if it was for my performance I trust our coaches.”
The redshirt sophomore quarterback has five interceptions and one fumble in the last seven games.
Discipline has been lacking for the Rattlers all season as they are minus-two in turnover ratio, which ranks the team ninth out of 13 teams in the conference. In addition FAMU gives up over 80 yards per game in penalties.
The writing is clearly on the wall for Wood. Former Rattlers head coach, Earl Holmes, was fired after going just 6-16 in his first 22 games. Since the 2013 season FAMU has seen 3 coaches and one interim coach take the lead job, and ultimately lose the job as well. The team now has 3 games left in the season, and even winning out may not be able to save Wood from the scorching hot-seat. After Saturday’s heartbreaking loss against the Pirates, FAMU will have another sub .500 season.
During Wood’s weekly press conference before losing to Hampton University, Wood spoke about his own performance evaluation “Wins and losses. That’s our business, our bottom line.”
He added that graduation, student athlete experience, and player performance were all important factors in his evaluation. He firmed up his position on winning as he said, “We graduate, great. We got off probation, great. That’s good, now let’s win.”
FAMU will play three straight MEAC opponents starting with Morgan State, Howard, and finally Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. At 2-6 any more losses could cause major shake-ups in Tallahassee, starting with the head coach. There has been no indication that the programs athletic director Milton Overton is jeopardy of losing his job.
In the last seven seasons the Rattlers have only been able to muster 12 wins. Losing in this manner certainly puts makes anybody’s job vulnerable. With three games to play FAMU will have to do a better job stopping the run, and taking care of the football.
If the discipline matches the talent that FAMU boasts, then three weeks from now, Coach Wood may be able to negotiate an extension on his three-year contract, which concludes at the end of this season.