Category Archives: SIAC
Not only does the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference keep growing, it’s also breaking new ground. On Oct. 2, the Division 2-based conference announced the addition of Alabama’s Spring Hill College to its ranks. The Roman-Catholic Liberal Arts school will be the first non-Historically Black College or University affiliated with the SIAC.
The SIAC becomes the second major HBCU based sports conference to add a non-HBCU, joining the CIAA who added Chowan University in 2007.
“We are pleased about the prospect of Spring Hill College becoming a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference,” SIAC Commissioner Greg Moore said. “Not only is Spring Hill College an institution with strong academics and athletics, but they were also cited by Dr. King for its commitment to racial justice and equality in his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail.’”
Spring Hill is currently a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC). They do not, however, currently field a football team. In August, he SIAC announced Central State would be joining the conference on a football only basis. Spring Hill will continue to hold membership in the NAIA and the SSAC through the 2013-2014 academic year, but will play a full schedule against SIAC opponents beginning in 2014-2015.
1. Norfolk State, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman are the teams to beat in the MEAC. The three teams were predicted to finish in the in the top three, and in Week One, they all looked the part. Norfolk State dominated former CIAA rival Virginia State in all phases of the game, rushing for 223 yards and the defense forced five turnovers in the route.
South Carolina State dominated FCS-opponent Georgia State, picking up a convincing 33-3 win in the Georgia Dome Thursday night. If that game was any indication, MEAC defensive backs will be in for a rough year as redshirt junior quarterback Richard Cue threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns as SC State overwhelmed Ga. State.
Sunday afternoon in MEAC/SWAC Challenge, Bethune-Cookman sent a message to a national audience on ESPN that they are in the race as well. After trailing by as many as three touchdowns, BCU rallied to win the game, scoring an incredible 38 unanswered points, defeating Alabama State 38-28 in Orlando, FL. The comeback was keyed by backup quarterback Broderick Rogers who threw for 123 yards on six completions, including two touchdowns, and ran for 100 more.
2. Winston-Salem State will get everyone’s best shot this year. Last season the Rams recorded unprecedented success in the Division II level, becoming the first HBCU to win 13 games as they finished just one game away from the championship game. Despite the loss of the team’s best offensive and defensive players, WSSU was still ranked in the top 10 of several Division II polls. Needless to say the team will have opponents seeing “red” all season as all of its’ opponents, in and out of conference will give them their best shot. Saturday’s 28-23 squeaker over UNC Pembroke was evidence of that. The next two weeks against Concord College and Morehouse will definitely be solid challenges for the Rams before they start CIAA play.
3. Morehouse is a serious contender to win the SIAC. Morehouse went up to RFK Field in Washington, DC and gave Howard all it could handle. The Maroon Tigers led late in the fourth quarter before falling victim to the comeback heroics of Howard’s third string quarterback Jamie Cunningham in Saturday’s 30-29 thriller. Morehouse will have to contend with Albany State, who represented the SIAC in last year’s playoffs in the conference’s East Division. but with eight All-SIAC preseason picks, including reigning conference offensive player of the year David Carter, the look to be well equipped for the challenge.
News links from around HBCU land.
Tuskegee scores significant RB transfer
Atlanta, GA—The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Council of Presidents, by unanimous vote, approved the application of Central State University to become a football member of the SIAC, effective July 1, 2013.
Starting in 2013, the Marauders will compete against Kentucky State, Lane College, Stillman College, Tuskegee University and 2011 SIAC Champion Miles College in the West Division. Albany State University, Benedict College, Clark Atlanta, Fort Valley State, and Morehouse will continue to compete in the East Division.
“We are pleased to add Central State University as an associate member of the SIAC,” SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore added. As the perennial NCAA Division II football attendance leader, I am certain that SIAC fans will welcome the addition of Central State University as we expand our footprint into Ohio.”
In its storied football history, Central State has won three NAIA Football National Championships and produced numerous players drafted or signed as free agents by the National Football League. The list includes former Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl Champion offensive lineman Eric Williams, New Orleans Saints defensive back Vince Buck, and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Hugh Douglas.
This is the fourth in a series of posts ranking the greatest HBCU to NFL players, by position. Only players whose college careers started after 1970 were considered.
If ever there was an NFL Hall of Famer who continually beat the odds, it’s Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe grew up poor, raised by his maternal grandmother in Snellville, Georgia. He struggled academically and lived in the shadow of his older brother, Sterling, who was a football standout. While his older brother Sterling went on to play big-time college football at the University of South Carolina, Sharpe ended up playing his college ball at nearby Savannah State. Sharpe vividly recalled his transition to SSU during his 2011 Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech.
“When I left my grandmother’s home in 1986 headed to Savannah State with two brown grocery bags filled with my belongings, nothing was going to keep me from realizing my dreams. When people told me I wasn’t going to make it, I listened to the one person who told me I was, me.”
Sharpe was a standout at SSU, earning All-SIAC honors his final three years and Division 2 All-America honors in his senior year.
Still, success on the professional level seemed like a long-shot for Sharpe. While his brother was quickly becoming a superstar with the Green Bay Packers, the younger Sharpe waited until the seventh round of the 1990 NFL draft before being selected by the Denver Broncos. Sharpe found himself trying to transition from small-school college receiver to professional tight end. According to Sharpe, he almost failed to make the cut for the Broncos his rookie season.
“I played on special teams and I got 20 offensive plays, had 12 knock down blocks. I’m not proud to say I was cutting everything that moves. When they went back into the room on Saturday, my name was off the board. I made it.”
Sharpe would go on to do more than just make the team. He would go on to set a new standard for which all tight ends would be set against. Sharpe was quarterback John Elway’s most consistent target in the 1990s and one of the most dangerous weapons in the league during his era. By the time Sharpe retired 14 seasons later, he owned his positions’ record for receptions (815), yards (10,060) and touchdowns (62), all of which have been broken by Tony Gonzales. Sharpe also won three Super Bowl rings in his career, two with Denver (97-98) and one with Baltimore (2001).
Runner Up: Jimmy Giles-Alcorn State
The phrase “ahead of his time” is often overused in sports, but not when referencing Jimmie Giles. The 6’3 tight end from Alcorn State was picked in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. At that time, most tight ends were little more than blockers who caught a pass or two every few games. Giles, too, was used in this manner for his first few seasons.
That changed in 1979 when he and former Grambling QB Doug Williams teamed up to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship game in just the team’s fourth season. Giles caught 40 passes and found the endzone seven times. Unlike most tight ends of that era, Giles was a serious deep threat, averaging almost 15 yards per catch for his career. Giles finished with 350 receptions, 5,084 yards and 50 touchdowns upon his retirement following the 1989 season. One has to wonder how much those numbers would have been improved if he had been more heavily utilized during his prime years in Tampa Bay.
Giles, like Williams, had problems with Tampa Bay management and coaching staff. This was reflected in his stats, which show a dip from 1982-1984, when he should have been hitting his prime. He rebounded in 1985 to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career after catching 43 passes and 8 touchdowns with an amazing average of 15.7 yards per catch.
“He could have been one of the all-time best tight ends, if they would have used him more,” said former Buc teammate Gerald Carter.
Honorable Mention: Ben Coates-Livingstone
Like many HBCU to NFL stars, Ben Coates took an unconventional route to the NFL. The South Carolina native didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. While at Livingstone, Coates was a multi-sport athlete who broke records and impressed scouts enough to be picked by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft.
Coates career really took off when the Pats drafted QB Drew Bledsoe. From 1993, Bledsoe’s rookie year, to 1998, Coates never recorded less than 50 catches or 6 touchdown receptions. The five-time Pro-Bowler finished his career in 2000, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
For his career, Coates caught 499 passes for 5,555 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Pre-1970: Raymond Chester-Morgan State
In the 1960s, there were few better small schools to find unheralded talent than the CIAA’s Morgan State. First there was running back LeRoy Kelly. Then came linebacker Willie Lanier. So by the time Raymond Chester finished up his career in Baltimore, he was no secret. The Oakland Raiders picked him in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1970 and he immediately paid dividends, catching 43 passes in his rookie season. Chester was a valuable member of Raider squads of the 1970s, winning two Super Bowls with the team. He finished his career with 364 receptions, 5,014 yards and 48 touchdowns.
The following is the third in a series of posts highlighting the best NFL players at each position produced by HBCUs. The list is comprised of players who played their careers at HBCUs after 1970.
Before he became the Greatest Receiver of All-Time, Jerry Rice was known in HBCU circles as “World.” Legend has it he was given the name because “there wasn’t a ball he couldn’t catch in the world.” The Starkville, MS, native came to Mississippi Valley State in 1981 as a lightly heralded recruit with no Division I-A scholarship offers. He left four years later as a first-round draft pick.
Rice’s career at MSVS really took off his sophomore year with the addition of strong-armed QB Willie Totten. That season, Rice caught 66 passes for 1,113 yards, great for any level of competition in the early 1980s. Rice and Totten spent the next three years racking up records and terrorizing the SWAC with their patented aerial attack. The numbers the two of them put up were simply ridiculous. After setting the NCAA record for receptions (102) and yards (1,450) as a junior, Rice bettered those numbers as a senior, catching 103 passes for 1,687. He also scored an amazing 27 touchdowns that season.
As spectacular as Rice was at Mississippi Valley, his professional career proved to be even better. Rice played an incredible 20 seasons in the NFL, breaking every major career receiving record while winning three Super Bowls. He owns the league records for career receptions (1,549) yards (22,895) and touchdowns(208) and is sure to be selected to the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible.
2. John Stallworth-Alabama A&M
Choosing the second best receiver was just as difficult as choosing the top one was hard. There are other receivers with gaudier stats, and I abhor equating championships with successful careers, but being a key contributor on a team that won four Super Bowl’s in a decade is a hard thing to overlook. Stallworth first made his mark at Alabama A&M, making the All-SIAC team in both his junior and senior seasons.
Stallworth was drafted by the Steelers in the 4th round of the 1974 draft and helped the team win its first-ever Super Bowl during his rookie season. Stallworth’s numbers his first couple of seasons weren’t that spectacular, but put that in context. He played during a run-heavy era on an especially run-happy team. He also played alongside another Hall-of-Fame receiver, Lynn Swann. Add in a few seasons where he missed a large chunk of games and it becomes clear that Stallworth can’t be judged on numbers alone.
Stallworth’s signature season came in 1984 when he returned from injury to have his best season ever, at the age of 32. Stallworth caught 80 passes for 1,395 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to being named Comeback Player of The Year. When he retired three seasons later, he owned every significant receiving record for the storied franchise. He finished his career with 537 receptions, 8,723 yards and 65 touchdowns and was elected to the NFL Hall-of-Fame in 2002.
3. Jimmy Smith-Jackson State
The story of Jackson State’s Jimmy Smith is one filled with ups and downs, but an inspiring one none the less. In four seasons at JSU, he caught 110 passes for 2,073 yards and 16 touchdowns and was a second round pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. After arriving in Dallas at the start of the Cowboy’s 90′s dynasty, injuries limited Smith’s production and a dispute with owner Jerry Jones eventually led to Smith being released in 1994. After being cut from the Eagles, Smith finally found a home with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995.
From 1996 to 2002, Smith put together a string of seven straight seasons of over 75 yards and 1,000 yards. Smith was a five-time Pro-Bowl selection who passed the 1,000 yard threshold nine times in his career, including the season prior to his retirement in 2005. Smith finished his career with 862 receptions, 12,287 yards and 69 touchdowns.
4. Donald Driver-Alcorn State
Donald Driver is one of the modern HBCU to NFL success stories. Driver arrived at Alcorn State just after the Steve McNair era ended, catching a modest 88 passes for 1,993 yards during his time there. At the time Green Bay drafted him in the 7th round of the 1999 NFL Draft, he was probably more accomplished as a track athlete.
Driver didn’t become a starter until his fourth NFL season, when he caught 70 of Brett Farve’s passes for 1,064 yards, the first of seven 1,000 yard season in his career so far. Though he is on the back end of his NFL career, the four-time Pro Bowler was still a valued contributor for the 2010 Super Bowl Champs and remains a team leader as he prepares for his fourteenth NFL season. His 750 catches and 10,060 yards are both Packer records.
5. John Taylor-Delaware State
It’s likely that by the time John Taylor was drafted by the San Fransisco 49ers in the 3rd round of the 1986 NFL Draft, no one was happier about it than opposing coaches in the MEAC. During Taylor’s time at Delaware State, he terrorized the rest of the league. An electrifying returner as well as a speedy deep threat, Taylor scored 15 touchdowns his senior season, two of which came on kick returns. Taylor finished his career as the NCAA record holder for yards per catch with an amazing 24.3 per grab (the record has since been eclipsed by Hampton’s Jerome Mathis) and a dazzling 2,426 receiving yards.
In San Fransisco, Taylor teamed up with Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice to form one of the most dangerous receiving duos of all-time. Taylor’s speed and deep threat abilities provided the perfect compliment to Rice’s deliberate, precise route-running. Taylor was largely used as a return specialist early in his career, however his role increased after he caught the game winning catch of Super Bowl XXIII. The next season he caught 60 passes for 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns. Taylor would again go over 1,000 yards in 1991. For his career, Taylor caught 347 passes for 5,598 yards and 43 touchdowns. He also holds the Super Bowl record for punt returns and punt return average.
Though there are other receivers with far more catches and yards in their career, considering the offensive playmakers he played with (Rice, Roger Craig, Gary Clark) and his meaningful contributions to three Super Bowl champions, there’s no debating that Taylor is one of the best receivers ever produced by any HBCU.
After being selected as a defensive back from Grambling, Joiner went to have a long NFL career. Finished with 750 receptions 12, 146 yards and 65 touchdowns in an era where 1,000 seasons were rare. Elected to the HOF in 1996.
“Bullet Bob” was a running back under Jake Gaither at FAMU, but was probably better known for being the “fastest man in the world” in the 1960s. The Cowboys utilized Hayes speed as a wide receiver, and caught 371 passes for 7,741 yards and 71 touchdowns. Elected to HOF in 2009.
Heading into the 2012 college football season, two sets of Rams appear to be the teams to beat in Division II HBCU football. Both Winston-Salem State and Albany (GA) State were listed among the preseason Top 25 of Division II football by the American Football Coaches Association on Tuesday. WSSU is ranked ninth overall, while ASU comes in at no. 22.
Just three years after returning to Division II, Winston-Salem State (13-1 in 2011) is one of the premiere football programs in the division. The program had its best season ever, winning the CIAA title, going undefeated in the regular season and reaching the D2 semifinals, something no HBCU had ever done before. Coach Connell Maynor and his squad look to build on that performance with a tough non-conference schedule prior to starting CIAA play. The Rams finished last season ranked third in the final AFCA Poll.
Albany State finished 8-4 before bowing out of the playoffs in a 63-14 loss to North Greenville, who are ranked below ASU at no. 23. The two teams will open up against each other on Sept. 1 in Albany, GA.
Last year’s champion, Pittsburg St. (Kan) stands at the top of the poll. Other HBCUs receiving votes include Elizabeth City State, Morehouse from the CIAA and SIAC, respectively.
|1.||Pittsburg St. (Kan.) (21)||13-1||720||1||Aug. 30 at Northeastern St. (Okla.)||Tim Beck|
|2.||Minnesota-Duluth (5)||11-3||661||6||Aug. 30 at Southwest Minnesota St.||Bob Nielson|
|3.||Northwest Missouri St. (1)||11-3||613||5||Aug. 30 vs. East Central (Okla.)||Adam Dorrel|
|4.||Midwestern St. (Texas) (1)||10-1||582||7||Sept. 8 at Tarleton St. (Texas)||Bill Maskill|
|5.||Wayne St. (Mich.) (1)||12-4||502||2||Sept. 8 at Ashland (Ohio)||Paul Winters|
|6.||Colorado St.-Pueblo||11-1||481||9||Aug. 30 vs. No. 24 West Texas A&M||John Wristen|
|7.||Grand Valley St. (Mich.)||8-3||473||NR||Sept. 1 at Western Oregon||Matt Mitchell|
|8.||Valdosta St. (Ga.)||6-4||415||NR||Sept. 1 at Saginaw Valley St. (Mich.)||David Dean|
|9.||Winston-Salem St. (N.C.) (1)||13-1||386||3||Sept. 1 vs. North Carolina-Pembroke||Connell Maynor|
|10.||Abilene Christian (Texas)||8-3||367||16||Sept. 1 vs. McMurry (Texas)||Ken Collums|
|11.||California (Pa.)||10-3||347||15||Aug. 30 vs. No. 17 Hillsdale (Mich.)||Mike Kellar|
|12.||Kutztown (Pa.)||11-2||329||13||Aug. 30 vs. St. Anselm (N.H.)||Raymond Monica|
|13.||New Haven (Conn.)||11-2||322||8||Sept. 1 vs. Merrimack (Mass.)||Peter Rossomando|
|14.||Delta St. (Miss.)||11-3||290||4||Sept. 1 vs. Fort Valley St. (Ga.)||Jamey Chadwell|
|15.||West Alabama||8-4||274||23||Sept. 1 at Clark Atlanta (Ga.)||Will Hall|
|16.||St. Cloud State (Minn.)||9-3||266||17||Aug. 30 vs. Sioux Falls (S.D.)||Scott Underwood|
|17.||Hillsdale (Mich.)||8-3||228||NR||Aug. 30 at No. 11 California (Pa.)||Keith Otterbein|
|18.||Missouri Western St.||9-3||218||18||Aug. 30 vs. Central Missouri||Jerry Partridge|
|19.||Shepherd (W.Va.)||9-2||199||22||Sept. 1 at Shippensburg (Pa.)||Monte Cater|
|20.||Washburn (Kan.)||10-3||187||11||Aug. 30 vs. Nebraska-Kearney||Craig Schurig|
|21.||Humboldt St. (Calif.)||9-1||183||20||Aug. 30 vs. Colorado Mesa||Rob Smith|
|22.||Albany St. (Ga.)||8-4||149||NR||Sept. 1 vs. No. 23 North Greenville (S.C.)||Mike White|
|23.||North Greenville (S.C.)||11-3||139||12||Sept. 1 at No. 22 Albany St. (Ga.)||Carroll McCray|
|24.||West Texas A&M||8-3||132||25||Aug. 30 at No. 6 Colorado St.-Pueblo||Don Carthel|
|25.||Bloomsburg (Pa.)||9-2||129||21||Aug. 31 at Stonehill (Mass.)||Danny Hale|
*– Ranking in final AFCA Division II Poll of 2011