Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bethune-Cookman coach believes upswing is ahead

Alvin Wyatt had for years openly joked about the poor facilities at Bethune-Cookman. He would laugh about the challenges of wooing recruits sitting in the football offices housed in a trailer.

At a media day last month in Tampa, Wyatt broke character. He spoke with pride about upgrades, including new offices smack dab in the middle of campus. He spoke of the school's plans to invest $7-million in a new field house and other improvements.

Another question followed: Would Wyatt be around to see the completed projects?

Wyatt stuck a Band-Aid on consecutive 5-6 seasons with a 34-7 win against FAMU in last season's Florida Classic that capped a 3-1 finish. But some fans have faded memories of the success of Wyatt, who in 1996 inherited a program with 12 consecutive losing seasons.

"I feel like I have returned the football team to glory even though the last three years we have struggled," he said. "I don't feel the pressure at all, period. I enjoy what I'm doing. If we stay on pace long enough, eventually someone's going to step in. I look forward to that day, but I don't look for it too soon."

If fellow coaches are a good barometer, the woes will continue. The Wildcats were picked by MEAC coaches to finish seventh among nine teams in the conference. That's understandable with so many questions on both sides of the ball. But Wyatt sees a team with promise.

The Wildcats lost quarterback Jimmie Russell, who rushed for 816 yards and 13 touchdowns and threw for 775 and two touchdowns.

He'll be replaced by senior McKinson Souverain, who had limited playing time in 10 games last season but threw for 402 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 99 and a score.

Souverain is mobile and quick. He is elusive, but some wonder if he can throw on the run.

"We have a quarterback that can really get us over the hump; that will get us back to our winning ways," Wyatt said. "With this kid, if he stays healthy, then I think our team will have a lot of success. We're back in the position to do what we need to do."

Defensively, the Wildcats held teams to an average of 295.5 yards, ninth among I-AA teams. But the unit lost some key leaders, including former USF transfer and MEAC defensive player of the year Ronnie McCullough, who led the Wildcats with 149 tackles.

Wyatt picked up what has been heralded as his best recruiting class in recent memory, which includes former Plant receiver Kevin James. He also added USF transfer Josh Smiley, who will start at inside linebacker.

"We finished strong at the end of the season," Wyatt said. "I thought we finally turned the corner and got things going offensively in the right direction. We were able to put some back-breaking losses behind us, gather our team and get the character back that we needed to have some success at the end of the season."

Izzy Gould can be reached at or (727) 580-5315.

Bethune-Cookman coach believes upswing is ahead 08/27/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays' Evan Longoria: "We have all the belief in the world in here"


    The weekend sweep by Texas and four-game overall losing streak has some Rays fans - based on their tweets and emails - questioning the team's ability to make the playoffs and suggesting they might as well trade away their key parts.

  2. What are the odds the Rays trade for Brad Hand or Pat Neshek?


    In each of the last three seasons, the Rays have been sellers at the trade deadline. They shipped away David Price in 2014, got rid of David DeJesus and Kevin Jepsen in 2015 and flipped Matt Moore, Steve Pearce and Brandon Guyer in 2016.

    Padres left-hander Brad Hand has excelled in his two years with the team.
  3. Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

    The Heater

    Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Ronde Barber says comments about McCoy 'sensationalized'


    If anyone thinks Ronde Barber was throwing shade at Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, think again.

    "That anyone would assume I would say the best player on the defense isn’t a bad dude is irresponsible and sensationalizing a quote to serve their own means,'' Ronde Barber said.
  5. USA Today sees Bucs as 10-6 wild card team in 2017


    Another day, another national outlet making NFL predictions, and this one is promising for Tampa Bay fans, as USA Today's Nate Davis has the Bucs going 10-6 and making the …

    Bucs DT Gerald McCoy tries to bring down Giants QB Eli Manning in a 2015 game. Tampa Bay and New York are both picked to finish 10-6 in USA Today's preseason predictions, both making the playoffs as wild cards.