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Former USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell named coach at Western Carolina

The University of Florida legend won a Division II national title at Valdosta State in 2018.
Former USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell was named coach at Division I-AA Western Carolina on Tuesday.
Former USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell was named coach at Division I-AA Western Carolina on Tuesday. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Apr. 28, 2021|Updated Apr. 28, 2021

Seventeen months after completing his lone season as coordinator for an overmatched USF offense, Kerwin Bell has been hired as coach at Division I-AA Western Carolina.

The former Gators quarterback, named the SEC Player of the Year following a surreal redshirt freshman season in 1984, Bell will be formally introduced as Catamounts coach Wednesday morning.

“We talk every day about Catamount athletics having a winning mentality and the confidence to believe we can bring championships to our university,” WCU athletic director Alex Gary said in a statement released by the school. “Kerwin is a proven winner and has shown the ability to build successful programs. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to Cullowhee.”

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Bell, 55, takes over his third small-college program. He posted a 66-35 record in nine seasons at I-AA Jacksonville University, which discontinued the program following the 2019 season; and went 27-7 in three years at Valdosta (Ga.) State, leading the 2018 Blazers to a 14-0 record in Division II national title.

But he couldn’t replicate that success in his lone season at USF, where the Bulls struggled to adapt to his elaborate pro-style scheme and were hindered by myriad injuries at quarterback.

The Bulls were embarrassed 49-0 by Wisconsin in a nationally-televised season opener en route to a 4-8 finish. They finished the season ranked 112th or worse nationally in yards per game (330.8), scoring (20.8 ppg) and passing offense (169.6 ypg).

He inherits a Catamounts team that has totaled seven victories in the last three seasons under predecessor Mark Speir. WCU finished 1-8 this past season, playing mostly a spring schedule due to the coronavirus.

Among those on Speir’s staff: former Plant High quarterback Phillip Ely, who has spent the past two seasons as Catamounts quarterbacks coach.

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