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FAMU Football celebrates championship despite major changes in the program for 2024

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 18:10:08-05
  • FAMU Football players, fans, and staff celebrated their 2023 championship run despite new questions that linger for the 2024 season.
  • With Willie Simmons leaving, the head coaching position, the university is looking to name their next head coach.
  • Watch the video above to hear from FAMU staff and players about what's next.


"Everything is just a blur," said FAMU running back, Kelvin Dean Jr. He was part of the Rattlers championship run for the 2023 season.

"I just want everything to be settled so that I can be the leader that my teammates need me to be."

He's referring to recent news after coming off an historic season. The Rattlers went undefeated in the SWAC Conference and beat Howard in the Celebration Bowl, bringing home their second national title since 1978.

Now, former FAMU Head Football Coach, Willie Simmons, will be taking a job at Duke University. On top of that change, Rattlers Director of Recruiting, Devin Rispress will be joining the University of Colorado's staff in 2024.

"Just thinking about all the success, we had… people are going to want and take away from what's good. They want winners so I can't say I don't respect the decision."

Friday was the FAMU Championship Bowl celebration at the Al Lawson Center. It's also where I asked FAMU President Larry Robinson if the new uncertainties overshadow the celebration of accomplishments.

He tells me, "in the business of sports and employment in general…People move around quite a bit. You can't take it for granted that anyone is successful as coach Simmons was here, that they're going to be here forever. We must take advantage of all that momentum as a community and come up with something positive."

I also asked FAMU Athletic Director, Tiffani-Dawn Sykes, what taking advantage of the momentum looks like for the program. She said, "we are having a special board meeting on Tuesday and looking forward to naming a new head football coach… the 19th full time head football coach in Famu football history very shortly thereafter."

With things moving swiftly in the race to filling new positions in the program, Dean Jr. says there's no pressure and it won't rain on the parade.

"That'll motivate us to come and work harder. It will be a bigger target on us, so all we must do is stand on business."