TALLAHASSEE, FL (Dec.20) - The announcement of the next FAMU head football coach is one step closer after the head coach selection committee returned their recommendations to FAMU athletic director Derek Horne. The committee, led by FAMU NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative Ebenezer Oriaku, selected three finalists from the entire pool of applicants to present as the best candidates for the position that has been vacant on a permanent basis since Nov.3, upon the announcement by Joe Taylor that he was retiring effective immediately.
The three finalists, listed alphabetically and unranked by the committee, are John Eason, John Hendrick and Earl Holmes. A fourth finalist and current Jackson State University head coach, Rick Comegy, withdrew his name from contention. He was added as a finalist after his initial application was erroneously omitted from the initial selection pool.
Horne, is in the process of conducting on-campus interviews with the candidates. Holmes is scheduled to interview on tomorrow. Eason is scheduled to interview on Tuesday and Hendrick will interview on Wednesday. "We are pleased that the committee, led by Dr. Oriaku, did an excellent job and upheld the integrity of the process. They were diligent, yet swift in their evaluations, as we want to move the process along and name a coach that can get Rattler football back to sustained championship level," Horne said. "We will waste no time in our last stage of evaluations in order to ensure that we do not hamper the ability of our 16th coach to recruit and prepare for the 2013 season," Horne added.
The group includes two former Rattlers, in Eason and Holmes, who could be critical in rallying the FAMU alumni. But, Hendrick offers the outside-the-box approach that even some alumni feel might be appropriate. Either way, the three candidates displayed in their resumes the potential to lead the Rattlers through their next era.
Applicant highlights (Alphabetically)
Education: Eason is a 1969 graduate of Florida A&M, where he earned his B.S. in Physical Education, while playing for the Rattlers under legendary coach Alonzo "Jake" Gaither. He earned his M.S. from FAMU in 1974. While coaching at Florida State University, he earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Education/Administration from FSU. In addition, in 1995 he was a graduate of the Sports Management Institute and Executive Program sponsored by the University of North Carolina, University of Notre Dame, University of South Carolina and University of Southern California.
Experience: Eason played one year in the National Football League with the Oakland Raiders. Following that year he became an assistant coach at Vanguard High School in Ocala, FL. In 1972, he got his first professional experience in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. He then returned to Leon High School as assistant football coach, before being asked to coach wide receivers for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. He held that position from 1981-1994, where he was also the director of academic/student affairs. Upon leaving Florida State in 1994, he landed at the University of South Carolina as assistant head coach and receivers coach. He became offensive coordinator in 1995. In 1998, Eason retreated from coaching, while taking a professorship with the University of Central Florida. He returned to the sideline with a stint as associate head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in 2001. From 2001-present, he has been at the University of Georgia. He was the assistant and associate head coach and wide receivers coach until 2008. In 2009, Eason was promoted to Director of Football operations.
Eason carries a wealth of experience from the high school to professional levels, achieving success at each level. While at FAMU, he was an All-American player, who was drafted in the ninth round of the 1968 draft by the Oakland Raiders. Eason was honored as a FAMU Distinguished Alumni, is in the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame, was a two-time All-SIAC and All-American selection.
Education: Hendrick is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with both a bachelor's degree in Urban Administration and a master's degree candidate in Public Administration.
Experience: Hendrick's experience began as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator for southern New Jersey. In 1995, he received a fellowship with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a special teams assistant and and defensive line assistant. From 1995-2003, Hendrick was national recruiting coordinator, offensive line coach and special teams coordinator. He had several stints at both FBS and FCS schools, before landing at Alabama State University last season, recruiting in the southeast region. He also served as defensive and special teams coordinator.
Hendrick carries a variety of skills associated with leading an athletic team. He had been a video production coordinator, recruiting coordinator and summer camp coordinator. He has also been a liaison to National Football League scouting. He has produced several All-Americans, NFL draft picks and All-Conference football players on every level. While at Mississippi State, the team had the number one ranked defense in the country in 1999 and was ranked in the top five nationally on defense for five of the seven years he was at MSU. Additionally, in his stint at Benedict College, he raised the team graduation rate from 10-percent to 90-percent.
Education: Earl Holmes is a graduate of FAMU DRS, where he played high school football and Florida A&M University where he graduated in 1997 with a bachelors of Physical Education degree.
Experience: Holmes was well accomplished in college at FAMU, leaving as the all-time leading tackler in FAMU history. Holmes finished in 1995 with 171 tackles, a record that has stood for 17 years. He was then drafted in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting a 10-year NFL career. Holmes played on one of the toughest defenses in the NFL under Bill Cowher. He carried that experience with him to the Cleveland Browns, where he played in 2002. He delivered speeches to younger players on his team and continued his film study to execute successful game strategy. From 2003-2005, Holmes was known as a motivational player on the team. As a veteran of the success of Pittsburgh's defense, Holmes worked with coaches and teammates to strategize for opponents. Upon retiring from the NFL, Holmes moved to Orlando, where he was linebackers coach and assistant defensive coordinator for Lake Mary High School.
In 2008, incoming coach Joe Taylor hired Holmes to return to his alma mater as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. FAMU has annually ranked in the top five defensively in the MEAC. In 2011, Holmes was named sole defensive coordinator of the team. This year's squad was fourth overall in the MEAC, first in the MEAC in third down efficiency and second in the MEAC in sacks. Holmes filled in as acting head coach on Nov.5 as the head coach Joe Taylor announced his retirement. Holmes led the Rattlers to a homecoming win and a competitive loss against the MEAC champion B-CU Wildcats in the Florida Classic.