BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – It all started with a knock on the door. Birmingham-Southern head football coach Eddie Garfinkle was off the road recruiting, working in his office when two men walked in. “Kenjee’ Cotton and Anthony McCall…just kind of walked in my office and introduced themselves to me,” remembered Garfinkle. He called McCall and Cotton back and offered them positions on his staff, coaching corner backs and the defensive line, respectively.
The two young coaches were out of a job, but not due to a lack of talent or promise. They had been on Bill Clark’s staff at UAB during the 2014 season. At the conclusion of the team’s campaign, Dr. Ray Watts, president of UAB, announced the school would discontinue their football, bowling, and rifle teams. “That was a terrible moment in my life, and [for] those kids,” said McCall. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever been a part of.” The initial focus and media attention fell on Coach Clark’s future and that of his players. “That’s the first thing that all of our coaches were thinking about,” said Cotton. “What’s the next step for these kids?”
Once all the players were situated, the assistants turned to finding their own landing places. “I’m a Christian guy, and I leave it all to God, so I just let him take care of everything else,” explained Cotton.
That’s when the spiritual signal-caller sent in an audible.
“We were looking around at area schools, and I told Coach Cotton there were two openings at Birmingham-Southern,” said McCall. “So, I told him we might as well go up there.”
“I like that type of stuff,” said Garfinkle of his unexpected interviews with the two coaching candidates. “When you’re going out recruiting and selling the college, that means they don’t mind walking in and selling themselves and the program.”
The two have already made a lasting impression on their new boss, who has seen countless assistants move on to bigger roles at other schools in more than thirty years of coaching. “They’re going to have great opportunities and that makes me feel good, because I’m making an impact on young folks just like I try to with the players,” said Garfinkle. Wherever Cotton and McCall go, however, the gold in their blood will represent two second-families. “Coach Clark, when we were at UAB, was all about family,” said Cotton. “We’ll always be a part of that family.” Even though they more than likely won’t be with the Blazers when they retake the field, hopefully by 2017, they still see a bright future for the program. “For great things to come about, sometimes you have to tear it down and bring it back up,” said McCall, also a Christian-man.
“It’s going to be built up and if Coach Clark is doing it, it’ll be done right.”