Cullowhee, N.C. – After spending the 2019 season as the offensive coordinator at USF, and the 2020 season as an offense analyst at his alma mater, Florida, Kerwin Bell has been named the 14th head football coach at Western Carolina University, Director of Athletics Alex Gary announced. His contract was approved by the WCU Board of Trustees during a special session on Tuesday evening.
Bell's last head coaching job was with Valdosta State from 2016-2018 where his teams went 27-7, including a perfect 14-0 mark and the D2 national title in his final year. He was then lured away by USF where he served as the OC under Charlie Strong who was subsequently fired, along with his staff, after a 4-8 campaign.
His first, and only other, collegiate head coaching gig was just up the road from his alma mater for Jacksonville University. Bell spent nine seasons with the Dolphins from 2007 to 2015 and compiled a 66-35 record and two Pioneer Football League titles for the non-scholarship program. In fact, Bell was ultimately let go by an administration that wanted to keep the football program non-scholarship - a view that was not supported by Bell. Jacksonville ultimately ended its football program after the 2019 season.
"I am excited and honored to be named the new head football coach at Western Carolina University," said Bell. "We are coming here to win championships on the field and help mentor the young men who are in our program. I am ready to get started building this into a championship program that the Catamount Nation can be proud of."
Bell was a quarterback at the University of Florida from 1983-87 where he completed over 57 percent of his 953 pass attempts for 7,585 yards and 56 touchdowns. A former walk-on, Bell concluded his collegiate career as the SEC Player of the Year in 1984 after leading Florida to a 9-1-1 record and a conference championship, and both a first-team All-SEC selection and All-America honorable mention in 1985, a season that saw the Gators earn the programs first-ever No. 1 national ranking in the Associated Press poll. Garnering a second honorable mention All-America honor in 1986, Bell was a 1987 team captain and earned the program's Fergie Ferguson Award.
Bell was ranked the No. 26 Greatest Gator of all-time from the first 100 years of football at Florida in 2006 by The Gainesville Sun. Bell later served as a graduate assistant for the 1990 season under Steve Spurrier at Florida after earning a degree in psychology in 1987.
He was selected in the seventh round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, beginning his 13-year professional career that saw stops with the NFL teams in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Indianapolis as well as stops in the Canadian Football League, where he passed for 19,538 yards and 101 touchdowns in nine seasons, and the World League of American Football (WLAF).