Ed Reed, the football hall of fame under consideration to be the head coach at Bethune-Cookman University, said Saturday that he wouldn’t be hired in an emotional speech that came about a week after he received backlash for criticizing the HBCU in Florida.
During an expletive-laden, impassioned address in front of recruits, players and parents that was also streamed on social media, Reed is shown on a video saying that the decision was not his.
“You know I don’t want to leave,” Reed said before suggesting the Bethune-Cookman administration’s decision against hiring him was made by “evil people who don’t care about kids like I do.”
Reed said he didn’t withdraw his name as a candidate and alleged “all kinds of stuff going on around here” in an apparent nod to his own social media video last week complaining about trash he claimed to find on the Daytona Beach campus.
“Deion was right, and I know I’m right,” he added in an apparent reference to critical comments former Jackson State University head football coach Deion Sanders said about conditions and resources at HBCUs.
ESPN reported that Reed suggested his vision for “change” was too radical for Bethune-Cookman.
“We’ve been around here trying to change things,” Reed said. “My vision for change, probably moving too fast for a lot of people. I’m not withdrawing my name, as they said. They don’t want me here. They do not want me here because I tell the truth.”
Sanders expressed deep support for Reed while the two appeared together live on Instagram.
“We talked about this, we know the structure, we know the order and we know how it was gonna play out,” Sanders told Reed.
Reed formally announced the news in a tweet on Saturday morning.
“[A]fter weeks of negotiations I’ve been informed that the University won’t be ratifying my contract and won’t make good on the agreement we had in principle, which had provisions and resources best needed to support the student athletes,” the statement said in part. “I was committed to coaching and cultivating a relationship with the University, Players, Community and the Fans. It’s extremely disappointing this won’t be happening.”
It was reported late last month that Reed, a revered Super Bowl champion, would be named as Bethune-Cookman’s next head football coach. Weeks later, though, Reed went live on Instagram and released a series of videos. One of them was filmed while he was on a Bethune-Cookman golf cart criticizing the university over the conditions of his office. He also said he and student-athletes were “picking up trash” on campus.
Reed also emphasized how he wasn’t “even under contract” and at one point suggested he should just “leave” Bethune-Cookman altogether.
The videos prompted a swift backlash on social media with a chorus of voices suggesting Reed may not be the right person to coach at an HBCU.
However, there was also a strong amount of support for Reed lending his prominent voice to sustain the hard but necessary conversations about HBCUs that Sanders sparked.
Reed had already begun recruiting star players to Bethune-Cookman before his announcement on Saturday.
The influential Yard Talk HBCU Twitter account posted a note from a purported Bethune-Cookman student claiming there would be an on-campus protest against the university on Monday.
The news that Reed would coach at Bethune-Cookman was largely seen as being part of the so-called “blueprint” for success Sanders is credited for establishing for HBCU football programs following his brief but successful tenure at Jackson State. He was poised to join a growing list of high-profile college football coaches at historically Black colleges and universities that also includes Tennessee Titans legend Eddie George serving as head coach at Tennessee State since 2021.
But Sanders’ tenure at Jackson State was not without controversy.
In January 2021, Sanders was irked about the conditions and resources at Jackson State and HBCUs.
“The playing field is horrible,” Sanders said at the time. “It’s not a level playing field. It’s unacceptable. Thank God that God called me to change the game, to open their eyes, to open the door. Not just for Jackson State, but for everybody.”
“Some of the things that I’ve seen thus far early in my tenure are truly unacceptable,” Sanders continued. “It causes a kid not to dream. It causes a kid to not have that passion because he don’t see no end result that’s promising for him.”
In one of his videos, Reed alluded to those comments, calling Sanders by his popular nickname.
“Prime was not wrong about what he was saying,” Reed said. “I know a lot of HBCUs need help, I’m just here to help first. I see it too clearly. All of our HBCUs need help and they need help because of the people who’s running it. It’s broken mentalities out here.”
On Monday, Reed apologized for those comments.
“I(n) regards to my social media and comments about the University, staff and other institutions, I would like to sincerely apologize to all BCU staff, students and alumni for my lack of professionalism,” Reed said via a release through HBCUgameday.com.
“My language and tone were unacceptable as a father, coach and leader. My passion for our culture, betterment and bringing our foundation up got the best of me and I fell victim while engaging with antagonists on social media as well. I am fully aware of the hard working folks at our school who are also fighting to make things better and more financially sound. I am encouraged from my communication with my AD and our administration and understand it’s a work in progress. My passion is about getting and doing better and that goes for me too.”