Ex-Gator Kerwin Bell: Is the Time Right to Come Home?

D. PritchardContributor IDecember 4, 2010

Urban Meyer will have to decide the direction he wants to go regarding Florida's offense.
Urban Meyer will have to decide the direction he wants to go regarding Florida's offense.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For all the names that have come up when discussing potential offensive coordinators to replace Steve Addazio at Florida, none has gathered more steam or generated more excitement in Gator Nation than Kerwin Bell.

A quarterback at the University of Florida from 1983-87, Bell was a walk-on who found himself buried in the depth chart as a freshman. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Bell became the starter at Florida in 1984 and led the Gators to a 9-1-1 record and won the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award. By the time he left Florida, he had accumulated over 7,000 passing yards and threw for over 50 touchdowns.

His professional career took him on many travels, through the NFL, CFL and the World League. But it was during his time in Toronto in the CFL when Bell realized his calling. In one year, Bell went from Argonaut quarterback to offensive coordinator, and just like that, his coaching career had begun.

Bell was hired in 2001 as head coach of Trinity Catholic, a new catholic school in Ocala, Florida. He quickly established Trinity Catholic as a state powerhouse, winning a state championship in 2006.

In 2007, Bell was hired at Jacksonville University to build a new program, much like he had at Trinity. In his first year, Bell won Pioneer League Coach of the Year honors. In 2010, JU finished 10-1, and finished with the No. 1 ranked offense in the country. Maybe what is most impressive about Bell’s success at JU is that he has built a program without any scholarship players.

His record and accomplishments speak for themselves, and he has admitted he hopes to return to the Gator sideline one day, as a coach. So what stands in the way of making this official, offensive philosophy, of course?

Bell’s offense runs many pro sets and throws the ball all over the field, much like you see Bobby Petrino do at Arkansas. There is no read option, and the current coaching philosophy begins and ends with the read option. Even as pedestrian as the 2010 Gators appeared on offense, it may be asking too much for Meyer to change from what he knows best.

There is the possibility Meyer and Bell could incorporate a lot of how both offenses scheme and make it work; after all, many power football teams and pro-style offenses in college football incorporate a certain amount of spread or wildcat into their offenses. But the basic principles of the offense would change, and Meyer would have to accept that. Although Meyer claims he has no certain offensive style, the spread is his bread and butter and it has been his area of expertise since he became a head coach.

Another possibility is that Meyer’s new approach, the new “delegating Meyer,” would recognize Bell, with head coaching experience, could not only bring a successful offense to Gainesville, but could also bring great leadership to the program, which the program desperately needs after losing Charlie Strong and so many other great coaches. Thus allowing Meyer time and energy to be a head coach, a husband and a father all at the same time.  

There are other aspects Kerwin Bell brings to the Florida program that should be worth noting. For all his talent and success, Bell is a Florida Gator. This above all other reasons is why Gator Nation is so energized by Bell.

Although a successful coordinator will no doubt have many new offers year in and year out, Bell is a Floridian and he is a Gator. Having success on the sidelines at Florida could prove gratifying enough for Bell to hang around for awhile, and who knows what the future could bring.

Make no mistake; Kerwin Bell will be lured away from JU very soon. There are too many mediocre programs and few too many great coaches in college football. Programs like Vanderbilt will look at his success at JU and see gold. It may not happen this year or next, but it will happen.

Whether Meyer makes the move to bring Kerwin Bell back home, one can only speculate. But until a new coordinator is named, the excitement in Gator Nation still persists and the dream continues to survive.