R. Todd Littlejohn felt a special connection to the Bakersfield College football program long before even playing a snap for the team.
The son of Charlie May Littlejohn, who worked more than four decades in the school's English department, he and his friends made it to every Renegade home game and would often find themselves down on the field afterwards, fantasizing about one day suiting up for BC.
Littlejohn often followed the team on the road too, and at 11 years old, traveled to the Rose Bowl to watch the Renegades top Ellsworth (Iowa) 29-14 to win the 1976 Junior Rose Bowl game.
"We went to every game," Littlejohn said. "I was born and raised a Renegade."
Naturally, it meant something to play at BC, which Littlejohn did as a defensive back from 1983-84. It meant something to land a position on the team's coaching staff, which he also did from 1990-91, working with the team's DBs.
And it especially meant something early this week, when Littlejohn was told he would be named the team's interim head coach, a move the school made official Wednesday morning.
The interim tag was applied as part of a district hiring practice.
It will be the first head coaching job for Littlejohn, a Bakersfield High School graduate with coaching experience that extends all the way to the NFL.
A coaching career that began in 1989 has included stints with the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. He's also coached at Cal-Berkeley, Syracuse and UCLA. He spent the last two seasons as a safeties and special teams coach at FCS Prairie View A&M (Texas).
“I am thrilled to welcome R. Todd back to his hometown of Bakersfield,” BC Athletic Director Sandi Taylor said in a press release. “In this time of transition for Renegade football he brings a wealth of experience to his new duties as the interim head coach. We look forward to coach Littlejohn leading our football program.”
Littlejohn, who expects to arrive in Bakersfield on Jan. 22, says he's hasn't determined what his coaching staff will look like and plans to meet with current Renegade coaches when he arrives in the city.
Though the start of the season is several months away, Littlejohn says he's already getting emotional just thinking about leading BC players out of the tunnel and onto the game field for the first time.
“I may have to have somebody to pull me to make sure that I don’t stop in mid-jog," he said. "(I don’t want to be) caught just stopping and gazing and saying ‘Oh, wow.’ I think it’s one of the things where I will take a deep breath and really appreciate everyone that’s helped me get to this point.
"I'm overwhelmed by the opportunity that's in front of me. It's surreal, it really, really is."