Players want Pata

Pata and FAMU football players gear up for the fourth quarter.
Photo credit: Ahmon Lott

A search committee to find the next Florida A&M University (FAMU) head football coach was formed Wednesday to find a replacement for Alex Wood who resigned on Nov. 20. Though a national search will be held, the FAMU football players have made it abundantly clear who they want to be their coach, and the answer is not surprising.

“I want coach Pata as my head coach #NOBODYBUTPATA,” redshirt freshman Ricky Henrilus said via Twitter.

The tweets came after players-only meetings were held Tuesday,  last week for the FAMU football team. The players decided after those meetings that they would make it well-known that they want Interim Head Coach Edwin Pata as their permanent head coach.

“We chose Coach Pata because he respects us as men and believes in us,” Henrilus said. “He is passionate and he cares. He knows what’s wrong and has been on the coaching staff for nine years.”

Pata does have nine total years on the coaching staff at FAMU. The Miami native spent three years as the tight ends coach from 2008-2010 before leaving to become an assistant offensive line coach at Florida International (FIU). Pata then left FIU in 2013 to become the offensive line coach at FAMU. Pata has been on staff ever since and has seen four FAMU coaches come and go.

The players not only appreciate Coach Pata’s experience but his mindset as well.

“He has the same mindset as us,” defensive-back Orlando McKinley said. “Play your best players and let the talent speak for itself. He’s a player’s coach which makes us feel very comfortable around him. He’s a very approachable and respectable guy.”

 The players feel so strongly that Pata is the right fit, that they took to Twitter to make their feelings known. Current and graduating players created the hashtag "NoOneButCoachPata," which currently has over 100 retweets and favorites. Henrilus also brought the hashtag to Instagram, posting a picture of Pata saying “I want coach Pata.” That post currently has over 100 likes.

In response to the support from his players, Pata tried to remain humble, saying “It’s very encouraging to see their support, they are unified and holding each other accountable.”

In regards to hiring a new head coach, Interim Athletic Director John Eason said in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat that he values experience in a head coach.

“I would like to find someone with head coaching experience,” Eason said. “Who, in a sense, in terms of football, has been in the battle. They know what it’s like. Someone that has integrity. That’s extremely important for me.

The search committee will meet sometime this week to discuss the fate of coach Pata.