South Carolina State used a national stage to show that it is one of the best teams in Black College football – if not the best.
The Bulldogs continued the MEAC’s dominance in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge Sunday by holding off Grambling State 34-31 in a nationally-televised game from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Malcolm Long passed for two touchdowns and Travil Jamison rushed for two more to lead South Carolina State (1-0) to the MEAC’s fourth win in the five-year history of the Challenge.
Grambling State (0-1), last year’s Black College national champion, fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and rallied to pull within 34-31 in the fourth quarter on a TD pass from Greg Dillon to Damian Jefferson. The Tigers had another chance after stopping the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-three with less than two minutes, but Dillon was intercepted deep in SCSU territory, Grambling’s fourth turnover of the game, to end the threat.
Stillman College was forced to cancel Saturday’s home game against Clark Atlanta because of swine flu.
According to the Associated Press, Tigers coach L.C. Cole said about 37 of his players had become sick and school officials felt compelled to cancel the game. Stillman ultimately had to forfeit the contest, giving Clark Atlanta a victory, once it was determined that both schools were unable to reschedule for another date.
Stillman’s next game is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. against Albany State.
MCNAIR TO BE HONORED SATURDAY
Former Alcorn State and Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair will be honored during a tribute prior to the Alcorn State-Southern Miss game in Hattiesburg, Miss.
McNair, who was murdered in Nashville in July, won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in Division I-AA and finished third in the Heisman voting following his senior season at Alcorn. McNair played 13 seasons in the NFL and was named Co-MVP in 2003 as a member of the
Are you ready for some football? If you’re not, you better get ready since there are several Black College games this weekend.
Locally, expectations are high at the Atlanta University Center as Clark Atlanta and Morehouse prepare for season openers. The Panthers, picked fourth in the preseason SIAC poll, travel to Fort Valley Saturday night for a match against the Wildcats while the Maroon Tigers, the conference’s preseason pick to finish third, will host Benedict tomorrow night at B.T. Harvey Stadium.
Morehouse finished second in the conference last season and returns several key players, including junior quarterback William Brack. In a recent profile of Brack in the AJC, Morehouse coach Rich Freeman said Brack’s emergence late in the season provided a spark desperately needed for the team.
It appears that Brack has picked up where he left off last year. The Memphis native remained in Atlanta over the summer and dove headfirst into preparing for the upcoming season.
Florida A&M will play the University of Miami from the ACC this season, but will it venture into SEC country in 2010?
My AJC colleague Tim Tucker, who covers the University of Georgia, has reported that UGA has had discussions with FAMU officials about possibly playing next season. Georgia has an opening on its 2010 schedule and the game would be played in Athens.
What would Florida A&M gain from playing at Georgia, a program which has won at least 10 games six of the past seven years and would be a prohibitive favorite? Exposure in a state filled with top prospects is always a good thing, and it would give the program its second game in the state of Georgia in 2010 – following the annual match with Tennessee State at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The bottom line, however, will be the HUGE paycheck FAMU would receive. I’m not privy to any financial negotiations, but Louisiana-Lafayette will get $875,000 to open next season in Athens and New Mexico State will get $925K for a
Grambling State and South Carolina State have nothing but respect for each other as they look ahead to competing in the fifth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Sept. 6 in Orlando.
Grambling State, last season’s SWAC champion and Black College national champion, has been picked to win the conference again this season and expects a tough game against South Carolina State, the reigning MEAC champion.
“We’ve been watching a lot of film (on South Carolina State) and I can tell you they’ve got a fine football team,” Grambling coach Rod Broadway said on a conference call promoting the event. “We’re looking forward to the challenge of competing against them.”
Both programs are competing in the event for the second time, Grambling losing to Hampton in 2006 and South Carolina State defeating Alabama State in the inaugural event in Birmingham in 2005. S.C. State coach Buddy Pough said the event organizers hosted ‘a first-class affair’ and his program jumped at the opportunity to participate in
I’ve received a few e-mails recently on this subject and I wanted to put it out for discussion….
Am I in favor of postseason playoffs or big-money Classic games for HBCU programs?
First of all, I’ve heard interesting and emotional debates on both sides and personally, I’m all about making money – especially where we are with the economy right now.
There was two specific examples were brought to my attention – how far could Grambling have gone in the Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) playoffs if it didn’t play in the Bayou Classic and SWAC championship game and how far Tuskegee might’ve gone in the Division II playoffs instead of playing in the Turkey Day Classic.
Anyone can speculate on how far the teams could’ve gone (both teams were very good last year), but I guess it’s fair to speculate that both programs earned a lot of money in their Classic games, money that can be used throughout the respective athletic departments. And the tradition associated with
Central State is heading west to play in the San Diego Football Classic next month, and it can probably thank the famous athletics director for the trip.
NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, Central State’s athletics director, was back in San Diego Monday to help announce the Sept. 19 contest between Central State and Stillman College. Winslow played nine seasons with the Chargers and was more than happy to have his program participate in the event featuring two historically-black institutions.
“It just happened to be in San Diego, and of course the rest came with the fact that, oh, I used to play in San Diego,” Winslow told the Associated Press.
Added event promoter Dwayne McAfee, “Having a Hall of Fame, marquee name such as Kellen here brings credibility.”
For more on the San Diego Football Classic, visit the website by clicking here.
LIVELY DEBATE CONTINUES
Several readers have responded to the previous blog asking “Who will be the top Black College team in 2009?”
So, who do you think will be the best Black College football team of the 2009 season?
Grambling won the Black College national title last season and is the preseason pick to capture the SWAC championship. South Carolina State won the MEAC last season, had a strong showing in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoffs before losing and is the preseason pick to win the conference again.
Albany State is the preseason pick in the SIAC, earning the top spot in a slim margin over Tuskegee, with Fayetteville State earning the nod in the CIAA. Do you think one of those four preseason conference picks will emerge as the top team at the end of the year?
What about a team that didn’t earn its conference’s top position in the preseason such as Florida A&M in the MEAC, Tuskegee in the SIAC or Jackson State in the SWAC? Will one of those teams rise to the top?
What about Tennessee State or Central State – or someone that I’ve left out altogether? Let me know who
South Carolina State, led by reigning offensive MVP Will Ford, is the preseason pick to win the MEAC championship.
The Bulldogs, who finished 8-0 in the conference and 10-3 overall last season, received 10 first-place votes and 290 total points. Florida A&M was picked to finish second with Hampton, Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State rounding out the top five.
Ford, a second-team All-American last season, was named the preseason offensive player of the year with Norfolk State DB Terrell Whitehead earning defensive honors. In addition to Ford, South Carolina State had four first-team selections while the Rattlers, led by QB Curtis Pulley, had nine first-team selections.
For the entire preseason squad, visit the MEAC website.
Kentucky State was already facing an uphill battle in the SIAC this season after being picked to finish last in the preseason poll. Now, it will enter the season with a new coach after a sudden change days before the opening of camp.
Fred Farrier, the program’s coach for the past four seasons, was fired last weekend and replaced on an interim basis by receivers coach Wayne Dickens. For Farrier, the move came as a total surprise as he was preparing for what he thought might be a successful 2009 season.
“It was a shock,” he told the State-Journal in Frankfort, Ky. “It was definitely not something I saw coming.”
KSU spokeswoman Felicia Lewis told the newspaper that the University had no statement on Farrier’s dismissal.
Farrier was 19-25 in four seasons at Kentucky State, including back-to-back 3-8 records in 2007 and 2008.
Clark Atlanta, Morehouse prominent on preseason All-SIAC team
Judging by the preseason All-SIAC teams, Clark Atlanta and Morehouse should field solid teams