Jenkins’ fast start at Bethune-Cookman points the way for MEAC’s five new faces

It will be a season of change in the MEAC, as nearly half of the 11 programs have new coaches. The conference even welcomes two new member institutions, in Savannah State and North Carolina Central.

“I think it adds some excitement to the league, it brings some energy to the league, because everybody is up in arms and want to see what those guys are going to do,” Bethune-Cookman head coach Brian Jenkins told The Sports Network. “Then, of course, and unfortunately, people are going to compare what they do to what we do.”

Sure. But more on that in a moment.

Steve Davenport took over at Savannah State from Alabama-Birmingham, where he had served as running backs coach since 2006. Howard hired Gary Harrell, who’d been Bowie State’s head coach since 2009. Winston-Salem lost Kermit Blount to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Delaware State. Two other coaches jumped ship from the Southwestern Athletic Conference: Henry Frazier, who claimed the 2009 Eddie Robinson FCS coach of the year award at Prairie View A&M, is now at North Carolina Central. Former Grambling coach Rod Broadway, who also had a stint at Central prior to working the SWAC from 2007-10, switched to North Carolina A&T.

Each is hoping for the kind of success that shot Jenkins, in his initial season at Bethune, toward national headlines in 2010: The Wildcats dashed out to a co-championship in the MEAC (sharing the title with Florida A&M and South Carolina State), earning a berth in the FCS playoffs along the way. Bethune hadn’t claimed a league crown since 2002.

Jenkins and Co. were then picked second in pre-season MEAC polling, behind South Carolina State — which has won or shared the last several MEAC football titles — but they actually earned more first-place votes than did SC State.

Not bad for a first-year guy, right? You can bet there are five other rookie coaches studying the Bethune blueprint right now.

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