Skip to main content

Sources: Western Carolina's search zeroing in on former Florida Gators great

Western Carolina is poised to begin a new chapter in its football program – with perhaps its most decorated offensive mind.

Sources tell FootballScoop that Kerwin Bell, a former University of Florida star quarterback who's coached at both the high school and collegiate levels, as well as the Canadian Football League, for the past three decades, is Western's target and an agreement is expected to be reached (potentially as soon as tomorrow) for Bell to become the Catamounts' coach.

Western Carolina little more than two weeks ago fired veteran coach Mark Speir after nine seasons at the helm of the Cullowhee, North Carolina, program that competes at the Football Championship Level in the Southern Conference.

Bell's greatest success as a coach came in 2018 at NCAA Division II power Valdosta State. There, Bell guided the program to a 14-0 season and the D-II national title while obliterating school and Gulf South Conference scoring records with an action-packed, high-powered offense.

That season proved a pathway to Bell's biggest stage as a coach: offensive coordinator on Charlie Strong's University of South Florida staff.

However, Strong could not recapture the success he had generated at Louisville that resulted in Strong's hiring at Texas, and Strong was fired by the Bulls after just three seasons atop the program.

Strong's firing also meant Bell was ushered out in the transition to Jeff Scott.

Now, Bell is charged with reviving a Catamounts program that generated three winning seasons in four years from 2014-17 but has since lost 25 games in three seasons – including a 1-9 2021 spring campaign that resulted in Speir's dismissal.

It's expected that if a deal with Bell is finalized, the veteran coach will likely add his son, Kade, to the Catamounts' offensive staff.

Kade Bell, a former college quarterback for his father at Jacksonville University, spent the past season as offensive coordinator at NCAA Division II program Tusculum College (Greeneville, Tennessee). He previously was on staff with his father at both Valdosta State and the University of South Florida.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.

Tuesday update> Western Carolina has made it official. Kerwin Bell is the new head coach.