Stability among SWAC head coaches in recent years has been rare, with schools making frequent changes
Of the 12 SWAC head coaches, only four have been at their current school for longer than two seasons.
There are just as many head coaches who will be making their debut as there are with tenures longer than a couple of seasons.
Here is a look at how these SWAC head coaches rank how ahead of the 2023 season.
12. Alonzo Hampton, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Alonzo Hampton is entering his first year as a coach in any capacity for a team that has struggled since its SWAC West division title in the 2021 spring season.
The Golden Lions have posted a 5-17 record in the last two seasons, including a 2022 season in which they recorded a minus-20.2 point differential against SWAC opponents.
Hampton will look to turn things around for UAPB but will have to do so without leading rusher Kayvon Britten, who was lost to the transfer portal, and star offensive lineman Mark Evans II.
11. Kendrick Wade, Mississippi Valley State
Kendrick Wade returns to his alma mater, also the site of his first collegiate coaching job, looking to turn around a program that has not had a winning season since 2006.
During former head coach Vincent Dancy’s five seasons at MVSU, the team posted a 10-38 overall record.
Last season, the Delta Devils boasted the worst offense in the SWAC, scoring just 14.5 points per game only managing 270.4 offensive yards per game.
With their three best players no longer with the team (Ronnie Thomas, Caleb Johnson, Jalen Bell), Wade will have his work cut out for him.
10. Raymond Woodie, Bethune-Cookman
As Raymond Woodie takes over as head coach of his alma mater, he will look to turn around what has been a disastrous first two years in the SWAC for Bethune-Cookman.
The Wildcats have gone 2-9 in each of the past two seasons, their first time putting up consecutive losing years since 2007.
Not only have things been sour for Bethune-Cookman on the field, but one could argue it has been even worse for them off it.
From being displaced by tropical storms to the Ed Reed saga, this program has dealt with its fair share of adversity.
Hopefully, Woodie can come in and restore some hope to a team that is in desperate need of order restored.
9. Hue Jackson, Grambling State
If Hue Jackson has done anything for the Grambling State football program, he has brought some swagger that the team has not had in years.
From appearing in videos flanked by expensive cars to the team posing in front of a private jet, Jackson has done wonders for the Tigers in terms of marketing.
The problem is, this has not helped the team produce results on the field. In 2022, the Tigers finished a disappointing 3-8 overall.
To be fair, Jackson is entering his second season as Grambling State’s head coach with a loaded recruiting class to boot. Time will tell what the Tigers’ ceiling will be this upcoming season.
8. Eddie Robinson, Alabama State
Of all the head coaches in the SWAC returning from last season, former NFL linebacker Eddie Robinson has the least amount of experience.
The 2022 season was not only Robinson’s first as a head coach but his first in any coaching capacity.
Taking over at his alma mater, Robinson put forth a very good season leading the Hornets to a 6-5 record, which was the program’s first winning season since 2015.
As a former pro defensive player, it’s only right his team reflects this finishing second in the SWAC in points allowed. With talented players such as Colton Adams and Adrian Maddox filling out the defensive unit, the future is bright for the Hornets.
7. Clarence McKinney, Texas Southern
Clarence McKinney made his way to Texas Southern after spending over 10 years serving on multiple Power Five coaching.
He got off to a rough start finishing with a 4-21 record in his first three seasons, including going 0-11 in his first year as head coach.
This past season, however, showed signs of optimism as the Tigers went 5-6, falling one win short of their first SWAC West division title.
Led by a loaded offense featuring quarterback Andrew Body and running back duo Ladarius Owens and Jacorey Howard, McKinney could have the recipe for a sustained run as a top contender in the SWAC.
6. T.C. Taylor, Jackson State
The 2023 season will see T.C. Taylor make his head coaching debut after serving on several different HBCU coaching staffs in the past 17 years.
Taking over for reigning SWAC Coach of the Year Deion Sanders, Taylor has kept up Jackson State’s great recruiting track record, adding 14 FBS transfers, the most of any Division I HBCU.
Still, it will be an uphill battle for Taylor and the two-time SWAC champions to three-peat, having lost a huge chunk of their championship core to the transfer portal.
The biggest question the first-year head coach needs to answer is who will be the team’s starting quarterback heading into week one.
5. Connell Maynor, Alabama A&M
Since leading the Bulldogs to a SWAC championship during the 2021 spring season, they have not been able to replicate that success.
This has not hurt Maynor and the Bulldogs in recruiting, as Alabama A&M has pulled in 12 FBS transfers this offseason. This does not include Michigan State running back transfer Donovan Eaglin, who led the team in rushing last season.
4. Bubba McDowell, Prairie View A&M
After 10 years serving as an assistant coach for Prairie View A&M under former coach Eric Dooley, Bubba McDowell finally got his shot as the head coach producing a very good first season.
The Panthers finished with a 6-5 overall record but fell short of a SWAC West division title due to a season finale loss to Mississippi Valley State.
The former NFL safety will look to get Prairie View A&M over the hump this season working with an elite run game on offense and a loaded secondary on defense.
Led by the quarterback-running back duo of Trazon Connely and Caleb Johnson, McDowell will look to lead the Panthers to their first SWAC championship since 2009.
3. Fred McNair, Alcorn State
Becoming the head coach of Alcorn State in 2015, Fred McNair got off to a historic start.
He led the team to four straight SWAC East division titles, including two straight conference titles in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Since transitioning to the SWAC West, the Braves have not been able to replicate their success, finishing with a combined record of 11-11 in the past two seasons.
That being said, the Braves will still be competitive in a division that was wide open in 2022 and will be no different in 2023.
2. Eric Dooley, Southern
Coming to Southern from Prairie View A&M, Eric Dooley made an immediate impact for the Jaguars leading the team to a SWAC West division title. This gave him his second straight division title after winning one with the Panthers the previous year.
Dooley has been a coach in the SWAC since 1997, leading teams to great success everywhere he has been.
He won two SWAC championships as an assistant coach with Southern. He was part of UAPB and Grambling State programs that also won conference crowns.
Since becoming a head coach in 2018, Dooley has posted a 27-22 overall record and a 21-11 record in conference.
1. Willie Simmons, Florida A&M
Willie Simmons first became an HBCU head coach in 2015 when he took over the Prairie View A&M program before transitioning to Florida A&M in 2018.
In that time, he has posted a 33-12 record and led the Rattlers to the FCS Playoffs in 2021. However, the one thing that has eluded Simmons in his career as a head coach is a conference title.
Since Florida A&M made the transition to the SWAC in 2021, they have been competitive in the East division but played second fiddle to Jackson State.
Now that Deion Sanders and much of the Tigers’ championship roster have disbanded, the consistent Rattlers will naturally be looked at as the favorite in the conference for 2023.
Leave a Reply