A head football coach search marred by controversy and a lack of information from Florida A&M, is now over.
The FAMU Athletics Department announced in a press release Saturday afternoon that former assistant coach and current interim head football coach James Colzie III will replace former head coach Willie Simmons and become FAMU’s 19th head football coach. Simmons, who led FAMU to an HBCU national championship last month, resigned Jan. 1 to be the running backs coach at Duke University.
Rattler fans quickly congratulated Colzie on X and Instagram, with many saying that this was the right decision all along.
FAMU Athletic Director Tiffany–Dawn Sykes thanked President Larry Robinson and members of the recently formed search committee for their input and assistance in the search. Sykes also congratulated Colzie and expressed confidence in his ability to lead the Rattlers.
“Coach Colzie’s dedication as interim head coach and now as our permanent leader exemplifies his commitment to excellence,” Sykes said in a statement.
Colzie, in a statement, also expressed his gratitude to the search committee and the university for his permanent appointment while honoring the coaches who came before him.
“It’s truly an honor to join names like William Bell, Jake Gaither, Rudy Hubbard, Billy Joe and Willie Simmons to hold the illustrious title of head football coach at Florida A&M,” Colzie said. “I am ready to do my part of carrying on the tradition of this storied university as the No. 1 public HBCU in the country.”
Colzie, in the statement, also laid out his plans for buildinghis staff for 2024 and ensured fans that the Rattlers were preparing to defend their Southwestern Athletic Conference and HBCU national championship.
“My job will be to surround these incredible young men with an outstanding coaching staff to ensure a great student-athlete experience while they are on the Highest of Seven Hills. FANGS UP!”
Colzie has been a mainstay in college football since the turn of the century and has coached at many institutions at the Division I, Division II, and junior college levels. According to Colzie’s bio on the FAMU Athletics website, he was a two-sport athlete at Florida State University. Colzie played football in the 90s under legendary head coach Bobby Bowden and baseball under Mike Martin for one season.
After college, Colzie coached cornerbacks and kick returners at Florida International University before returning to FSU as a graduate assistant coach. Along the way, Colzie made stops and found success at multiple Division II programs, including Valdosta State, Southern Arkansas Simon Fraser University, and the juco program Coffeyville, before accepting a job as the defensive coordinator at the University of British Columbia.
After a stint with Saint Mary’s University in Canada, Colzie accepted a position at Florida A&M and was promoted to associate head coach before the 2022 season.
The Rattlers open their 2024 schedule against former Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rivals Norfolk State in Atlanta on Aug. 24.