Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FAMU Finds Itself in a Snake Pit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FAMU Finds Itself in a Snake Pit

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

The next football coach at Florida A&M (is Georgia wide receivers coach John Eason on someone's speed dial?) will have a massive rebuilding job. Not only must that coach try to win games in a budget-challenged environment, but do it wondering if the school will have the infrastructure in place to make sure more trouble isn't around the corner.

It's hard to gauge how much culpability that fired coach Billy Joe had in the "200-plus" NCAA rules violations that were committed throughout the athletic program because FAMU has barely addressed the issue. A school spokesman hinted that recruiting and practice rules were broken, another in a series of pitfalls that has sent the football program spiraling downward. Interim athletic director E. Newton Jackson, the latest to step into that revolving-door position, didn't like the mess, and Joe was pink-slipped just three months before the season opener.

So one of the nation's most prominent black universities is experiencing a nightmarish trifecta -- being in the NCAA doghouse and having financial problems while trying to replace a fairly successful football coach who was caught up in the turmoil.

It's going to take quite a leap of faith for Joe's successor to trust that FAMU can repair the damage. Many years of incompetency landed the Rattlers in their current predicament. There's no quick fix, either. . . .

No matter what caused the bizarre incident involving FSU quarterback Wyatt Sexton, it's hard to imagine him winning back the starting job. College football fans can be the most brutally insensitive lot in all of sports. There'll be no shortage of antagonists for Sexton, especially at road games. Even if he recovers to the point of competing for a job, the coaching staff and teammates will have to wonder how well Sexton can hold up under the added scrutiny that this situation puts on him. …

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