The search for a new head football coach and athletic director are under way after the resignation of A.D. Nelson Townsend and the firing of Rubin Carter.
Carter and his assistants were handed their walking papers Nov 20th, less then a week after the Rattlers 34-7 thrashing courtesy of the Bethune Cookman Wildcats, which President Ammons described as “a painful loss.”
After leading the Rattlers to a 6-5 record in 2005 and 7-4 in 2006, Carter’s troops struggled throughout the 2007 campaign, finishing 3-8, second to last in the MEAC just ahead the winless Aggies of North Carolina A&T.
“I was informed by administration that they wanted to go in a new direction with the football program which requires bringing in a new head coach and assistant coaches,” Carter said.
Townsend was two months shy of his second year as athletic director before his unexpected resignation. Marketing the success of the volleyball team, the men’s basketball team and attendance were concerns raised in Thursdays press conference.
“That will be one of the things that we’ll talk with the new athletic director about in terms of the total athletic programs what we do on the field and off the field and marketing the athletic programs will be apart of that discussion,” Ammons said.
Former assistant football coach and current assistant professor of physical education Allen Bogan was named interim athletic director until President James Ammons names a replacement.
“Coach Bogan is a veteran coach who has served 30 seasons on the Rattler football coaching staff,” said Ammons. “We are happy that coach Bogan has agreed to serve in this interim capacity until we complete the hiring process.”
Carter and Townsend were hired having to deal with the penalties imposed by the NCAA for violations involving ineligible athletes participating in games, reducing football scholarships by six.
“Coach Carter has done a tremendous job in the three years he was here as head football coach, he had to operate the football program with a number of sanctions by the NCAA reduced scholarships, and deal with problems with the academic progress rate: but we thought in the end after we had done our assessment that the football program needs to move in a new direction,” Ammons continued.
With two years remaining on his contract, Carter will be placed on paid administrated leave until April 22, 2008.
Townsend will be on paid administrated leave until February 22nd 2008.
“We just didn’t have the patience in the amount of time it takes to build a good quality program, its been two years and three months to try to rebuild this program,” Carter said.
The players were baffled in learning of the untimely dismissal of Carter and the rest of the coaching staff but feel that their play on the field attributed to the firing.
“This is all I know, it’s like they took everything I know away,” said sophomore offensive lineman Anthony Collins. “As a team we don’t want the coaches fired but the president is the leader of the school and what he says goes.”
Rebuilding will continue as the youthful Rattler team will be commanded by another coaching staff, as FAMU hopes to return to the glory days when the Rattlers dominated the MEAC conference under former head coach Billy Joe’s infamous “Gulf Coast” offense.
Rumors are circulating of the possible return of Billy Joe as A.D. and as head coach but Ammons downplayed those rumors when asked about his return and at the press conference.
“I have not spoken with coach [Billy] Joe and no one that I have spoken to has indicated to me that coach Joe has any interest in becoming head coach at FAMU,” Ammons said. “We are going to have a process where we are going to seek input from the various constituents in the university and at the conclusion of that process we’ll make a decision.”