A vote for McNeese to ring the bell with Kerwin Bell

I think I’ve done it.

I’ve found the perfect – well, as perfect as can be – candidate to be the next head coach for the McNeese football program.

Keep in mind, I don’t know if this person is interested or has applied for the position, or if McNeese would be interested in him. But I will tell you who and lay out the reasons why I think he’d be a great fit to lead the Cowboys.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs and cats: Valdosta State head coach Kerwin Bell.

If any of you know of Kerwin Bell, it may be from his infamous clip of playing for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian football League. He ran in for a touchdown and went to spike the ball, which came right back up and hit him where no man wants to be hit. While that happened in the year 200, that clip is still GIF-worthy.

Others may know him as the old quarterback for the Florida Gators in the 1980s. A select few may know him from his time as a state championship head coach for Ocala Trinity Catholic, just outside of Gainesville, Florida. A few more may know him from coaching at Jacksonville University, where he won two Pioneer Football League titles and went 66-35.

I redshirted my freshman year at JU, and Bell was brought in for the following season in 2007. I’ll admit, I’m not his biggest fan personally. He didn’t invite me to fall camp his first season when I felt I earned it. And after I severely hurt my leg in a college junior varsity game, he never came to check on me at the hospital after my surgery. Just a bit of disclosure for you, the reader.

But my personal experiences and feelings have jack to do with McNeese needing a head coach. Bell would be great for a few reasons. One huge reason is his offense. He’s put up big numbers at JU and Valdosta State. This season, the Blazers averaged 54.1 yards and 542.4 yards per game, good for first and second in Division II respectively. VSU has put up 60 points three times, 50 points another five, and haven’t scored less than 44 points in a game this season. A season that is two wins away from a national championship by the way. They’ve put up over 6,500 yards of offense; over 3,000 yards passing and running.

I also believe that Bell is hungry to win again at a higher level than what he is currently at. At JU, he coached non-scholarship players; though there was a report that JU gave scholarships meant for all students in higher numbers to football players while Bell was there. The Dolphins were punished by the PFL in a variety of ways, including a postseason ban. Bell, though, was cleared of having knowledge of the financial aid.

Whether Bell actually knew of the improprieties going on, we’ll never know. But I’d imagine he wants to get back to the FCS level and prove he can be a winner just like he was at JU. Bell was also at odds with JU athletic administration due to his desire for the team to be in a scholarship conference and JU not wanting to do so.

From a recruiting standpoint, it may hurt a little bit that he doesn’t know Louisiana all that well, but he can retain assistants who do know and recruit the state effectively. He also adds more of a Florida and Georgia pipeline for McNeese. Additionally, coming from Division II, he should be quite familiar with recruiting transfers from junior colleges and FBS schools.

I don’t even think he’d need to ace the defensive coordinator hire. With the numbers he should put up, simply getting a good one should suffice. If he did ace that hire, McNeese could well be a national contender again.

While I could not find his salary, I’d have to imagine that McNeese could land him with at least $200,000.

He’ll rub some people the wrong way, I can vouch. But as someone who has seen his offenses up close and personal, it’s a hire worth making. At least make the call. He understandably wouldn’t leave Valdosta until the season is done, but adding a national championship to your resumé would not only be a good excuse, but I’d imagine recruits would take notice.

McNeese needs to ring the bell.

Jim Beam

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