Willie Simmons, head football coach at FAMU has accepted a new position as Duke’s Blue Devils Running Back Coach. The announcement comes after New Duke Head Coach, Manny Diaz the announced additions of Jonathan Patke as defensive coordinator and Jonathan Brewer as offensive coordinator.
According to sources told to FootballScoop and HBCU Gameday, Diaz offered Simmons his running back coach position in Durham shortly after his record winning season with the Rattlers. FAMU were reportedly in negotiations with Simmons over the weekend.
“Florida A&M reportedly asked Simmons to put together a contract competitive enough to keep him,” according to an update from FootballScoop.
In a statement released via Twitter, Simmons expressed his sincere gratitude to FAMU for their support during his tenure.
“Thank you” doesn’t seem fitting to express my sincere gratitude to the coaching and support staff (former and current) that I’ve been blessed to work with during my time here. I truly admire and appreciate all the work you all put in and the sacrifices you make to guide our future leaders,” Simmons said.
“My deepest gratitude is to the young men I’ve been blessed to lead. The growth and development in our student-athletes as they believed and committed to themselves to our vision and the demanding rigors of a championship program are to be commended.”
VP and Director of Athletics, Tiffani-Dawn Sykes also released a statement with mixed emotions regarding Simmons departure.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce the departure of Coach Willie Simmons from his position as Florida A&M University Head Football Coach. Coach Simmons has been an integral part of our athletics program, and I am both proud and sad to see him go.”
Simmons is one of the most successful FCS coaches in the division, leading the Rattlers to a 12-1 overall record. The 2023 Celebration Bowl marked 45 years since the Rattlers won their FCS (I-AA) National Championship in 1978.
Coach Simmons also witnessed his own share of historic wins, leading the only HBCU to have both SWAC and MEAC champ titles and marking his 45th win at FAMU, passing Rudy Hubbard for the most wins in their first five seasons.
FAMU has announced that assistant head coach, James Colzie will be stepping in as Interim Head Coach.
The FAMU Rattlers are expected to return to the field in August 2024 to face the Norfolk State Spartans in Atlanta, Georgia.