The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats have had at least a share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship for the past four years; they are looking to extend that streak in 2016.
The Wildcats are now expected to compete for a conference title every season. “The bar has been set high, and we want to continue to reset it and succeed,” coach Terry Sims said. “It’s a pressure game, and you want to be able to react to pressure in a positive way.”
Sims was named MEAC Coach of the Year in 2015 in his first season as head coach of B-CU. He had spent the previous five seasons as an assistant coach with the team and said being a head coach for the first time was “a little bit challenging, but I was up for the challenge.”
B-CU is replacing quarterback Quentin Williams, who graduated. The Wildcats led the conference in passing offense last season.
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“I don’t know if you can replace Quentin Williams,” said Sims, “but I think we have guys here [who] are capable of going out there and getting the job done.” The top quarterback and likely starter is sophomore Larry Brihm, who got some playing time behind Williams last season. B-CU has not named a starting quarterback, but Sims said, “If I had to play a game today or tomorrow, he [Brihm] would be our starting quarterback.”
B-CU opens the season on September 4 against Alcorn State in the annual MEAC/SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) Challenge. That game will be nationally televised on ESPN. “I love it. It’s great for recruiting. It’s great for our fans.,” said Sims, adding, “It gives us a chance to have our program put out there nationally and get that national exposure that our kids deserve.”
The Wildcats are counting on improvement from the defense because of last year’s growing pains. Though they finished fifth in the conference in defense, “we have some guys now with some experience,” Sims said. “Those guys have played together for a year, so I look for a lot of big things out of our defense this year.”
Though the Wildcats have lost 11 games in the past four seasons, only two of those losses have come at home in Daytona Beach. “Our band and our fans, they do a lot for us on game day. Our band is outstanding, and they play a great part in keeping our players excited and keeping our energy going,” Sims said.
The website MEACsports.com has B-CU finishing second behind North Carolina A&T in their preseason predictions. Sims said, “preseason rankings are just that, preseason,” but that “just means we have some work to do.”