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Stan Becton | | February 27, 2023

How HBCU coaches with pro football experience performed in 2022

NC Central's Davius Richard and Khalil Baker break down winning school's first Celebration Bowl

Earlier in 2022, I highlighted the FCS HBCU football coaches with professional football experience and their impact. Now, it's time to look at those coaches and how they performed on the sidelines in the 2022 season.

How HBCU coaches with pro football experience performed in 2022

Connell Maynor | Alabama A&M

Connell Maynor and Alabama A&M struggled in 2022. The Bulldogs started the season 0-4 and finished the season 4-7 overall and 4-4 in SWAC play. Connell Maynor, an offensive coach, saw Alabama A&M's offense struggle in its first year without quarterback Aqeel Glass, with the Bulldog offense finishing as the third-worst in the SWAC in points per game. Alabama A&M also lost its first Magic City Classic since 2017. It was a disappointing season in many aspects for Connell Maynor and the Bulldogs.

CHAMPIONS: How North Carolina Central won the 2022 Celebration Bowl

Eddie Robinson Jr. | Alabama State

Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. may have made the most headlines in his first season as head coach from a postgame handshake, but beyond that, he proved he is a quality coach. 2022 marked Robinson's first year as a head coach at any level of football, and he led Alabama State to a 6-5 record and a 4-4 finish in the SWAC, good for third place in the SWAC East.

Robinson, a former NFL linebacker and Alabama State alumnus, saw great improvement from his defense which finished second in the SWAC in points per game. All signs point to Robinson leading the Alabama State football program upward.

SWARM: Recapping the 2022 MEAC/SWAC Challenge

Fred McNair | Alcorn State 

For the first time since his inaugural season as Alcorn State head coach, Fred McNair finished with a losing record at 5-6. However, McNair finished with a winning record in conference play (4-4), as the Braves bounced back to win two of their final three games, finishing in the thick of the SWAC West race. 

Nonetheless, McNair has built a winning culture at Alcorn State. That means a third-place finish in the SWAC West division does not meet expectations.

RANKINGS: Here are the final 2022 HBCU football power rankings

Rod Milstead | Delaware State

Delaware State fired head coach Rod Milstead after the 2022 season. Milstead finished the season 5-6 overall to match last year's win total, but only won three games against FCS opponents. Milstead and Delaware State also finished fourth at 2-3 in the MEAC.

2022 HBCU: Everything that happened in the 2022 HBCU football season

Willie Simmons | Florida A&M

2022 was year five for Willie Simmons at Florida A&M, and it was the second straight season he and the Rattlers finished 9-2. However, Simmons couldn't lead Florida A&M to back-to-back FCS playoff appearances, as the Rattlers were one of the first teams left out. 

Simmons again finished second in the SWAC East, losing to eventual conference champion Jackson State. Nonetheless, Simmons has proven himself as one of the best coaches in the FCS, with only two FCS losses in the last two years.

Bethune-Cookman-Florida A&M football: Memorable moments, all-time history of the Florida Classic

Hue Jackson | Grambling State

Former NFL head coach Hue Jackson only managed to win three games in his first year at Grambling State. Yet, Jackson's 2022 season matched the win total he had as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. It's now been 11 years (2011 with the Oakland Raiders) since Jackson has had a winning season as a head coach.

It was only year one for Coach Jackson in the college ranks, and he's continuing to build his program. However, Grambling State finished 2022 with fewer wins than it did in the season before Jackson arrived. That's not how Jackson wanted to start his collegiate coaching career.

ALL-HBCU: The top HBCU football players, by position, from the 2022 season

Deion Sanders | Jackson State

Deion Sanders finished his final season at Jackson State in disappointing fashion, losing the Celebration Bowl — before his departure to Colorado.

During his three years with the Tigers, Deion Sanders led Jackson State to back-to-back SWAC Championships after a 14-year drought. He also continued to draw national headlines to Jackson State and HBCU football as a whole, highlighted by ESPN's College GameDay making its second-ever stop at an HBCU when Jackson State hosted Southern.

Yet, on the field, Sanders never won the Celebration Bowl, meaning the 2022 season, in which the Tigers finished the regular season undefeated, is a disappointment.

🏆: HBCU football championship history

Sam Washington | North Carolina A&T

North Carolina A&T and head coach Sam Washington bounced back from a disappointing 2021, finishing the 2022 season 7-4 and 4-1 in conference play. Washington and crew went on a seven-game win streak after starting the season 0-3. Yet, with a shot at the Big South title and an FCS playoff berth in the final regular season week, North Carolina A&T suffered a blowout defeat.

After the season, North Carolina A&T and Coach Washington went their separate ways. Washington ends his time in the Big South with zero conference titles, which is surely a disappointing finish for a championship-caliber coach.

🐐: Here are the greatest individual seasons in HBCU football history

Bubba McDowell | Prairie View A&M

For most of the season, Bubba McDowell exceeded expectations in his first year as Prairie View A&M's head coach. McDowell and the Panthers led the SWAC West until the final regular season week, losing stunningly to Mississippi Valley State. Even though McDowell lost two of his final three games to finish 6-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play, he still coached well enough for this season to be considered a positive start to his tenure.

MEAC VS SWAC: 16 of the best MEAC/SWAC Challenge moments

Eric Dooley | Southern

Eric Dooley headed east in the SWAC West, starting his first season as head coach of Southern after leaving Prairie View A&M.

Dooley brought similar success with him, winning back-to-back SWAC West championships as a head coach and getting Southern back to the SWAC Championship game. 

Dooley couldn't get the Jaguars over the hump against Jackson State, losing twice to the Tigers this year. However, Southern was the preseason SWAC West favorite, so Dooley lived up to expectations in his first year as head coach, finishing 7-5 overall.

Grambling State-Southern football: Memorable moments, all-time history of the Bayou Classic

Eddie George | Tennessee State

Eddie George had a disappointing year two at Tennessee State. The Tigers finished 4-7 overall and 2-3 in conference play, regressing from a 2021 season where George led Tennessee State to a winning record in conference play for the first time since 2016. In 2022, George started the season 0-4 with an unfathomable loss to Lane, a Division II football program.

CAN'T MISS: 6 HBCU football game-day atmospheres that you need to experience

While George did bounce back with a three-game win streak in the middle of the season, he and the Tigers proceeded to lose to Murray State, a team with only two wins this year. George, a Hall of Fame running back, also saw his team's rushing attack regress, only finding the end zone 10 times on the ground.

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