Category Archives: SWAC
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
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.
This is the second in a series of posts highlighting the best NFL players produced by HBCUs at each position. For most positions, we will only consider players who began their college careers after 1970.
Folks may argue whether or not Walter Payton is the best NFL running back ever. The man he stole the league’s all-time rushing record from, Jim Brown, played just nine NFL seasons. The man who took the title from him, Emmitt Smith played 14 seasons and won three championships. Barry Sanders may have had more spectacular runs. But when it comes to backs produced by HBCUs, Walter Payton stands head and shoulders above his peers.
Payton’s collegiate career came at a time where African-Americans were few and far between in the Southeastern Conference. Most teams only had a handful of Black players, if any. Throw in the fact that the 5’10 running back only played two years of high school football, and him landing at Jackson State makes plenty of sense.
Despite his light recruitment, it didn’t take long for Sweetness to make his presence felt around the SWAC and nationwide. Playing with future pros like Robert Brazile, Jackie Slater and his older brother Eddie, Payton re-wrote the history books, breaking the NCAA’s scoring record by rushing for 65 touchdowns in his four seasons. He finished with over 3,500 yards in his career, running for over 6 yards per carry. He also finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Award.
Payton was drafted no. 4 overall by the Chicago Bears and continued to defy the odds his entire pro career. He was a 9-time Pro-Bowl participant, 9-time All-Pro Selection, broke Jim Brown’s career rushing record and capped off his career with a Super Bowl following the 1985 season.
Runner Up: LeRoy Kelly-Morgan State
It’s never easy replacing a legend, and in the NFL there is no bigger legend than Jim Brown. When the Cleveland Browns drafted the Morgan State runner in the eight round of the 1964 NFL Draft they probably figured he’d eventually be Brown’s successor, but no one could have realized it would have come so soon. One season removed from the Brown’s 1964 NFL Title, Brown abruptly retired, leaving Kelly as the featured back. Kelly made the transition from the CIAA to NFL look easy, making the first of six Pro-Bowl appearances, leading the league in rushing yards in both ’67 and ’68 and leading touchdowns from 66-68.
Kelly was one of the first great all-around backs of the NFL. He finished his career with over 12,000 yards, including 7, 274 rushing yards. He also retired with 90 touchdowns and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.
Notable: Willie Galimore-FAMU
In the pantheon of NFL running backs, Galimore’s numbers don’t look that impressive. He recorded 2,985 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in 7 NFL seasons, never gaining 1,000 yards. But this NFL films video featuring Galimore tells everything you need to know about legendary coach Jake Gaither’s star back.
Playing in the NFL is the goal of every kid that straps on a helmet, from Pop Warner to college football. The reality is, only a small number of men ever attain that goal. Even the majority of the thousands of young men who receive scholarships to play the sport in college never sniff the professional ranks.
It’s the same story for athletes competing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities these days. In the days before mass integration, HBCUs were gold mines for overlooked professional talent. Even after major colleges began to recruit black players heavily, these schools still managed to find diamonds in the rough like Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice and Alcorn State’s Steve McNair in the 80s and 90s. But in today’s technologically advanced world where major colleges begin scouting players before their first high school games, such finds are fewer and further between.
As the NFL teams begin training camp, there are currently 70 former HBCU players listed on team rosters. Hampton leads all HBCUs with a total of eight alumni competing for roster spots, including former Pirate defensive linemen and current New York Jets Kendrick Ellis and Marcus Dixon. Tennesse State is next up, with seven former players on NFL rosters. MEAC rival South Carolina State and Tennessee State follow with five players each. Bethune-Cookman, Jackson State and Southern came in third with four players each. Alabama State, Alcorn State, FAMU, Grambling State, Howard and Morgan State all had three players in training camps.
Overall 27 of these players came from the MEAC and 17 from the SWAC, respectively.
The Jacksonville Jaguars currently have a league-high five players from HBCUs on their roster. The Indianapolis Colts feature four HBCU products, including veteran Alabama A&M product Robert Mathis.
How does your HBCU fit in? See check out the chart below.
* Denotes rookie players
|Robert Mathis||Colts||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Frank Kearse||Panthers||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Michael Coe||Giants||DB||Alabama State|
|Tavaris Jackson||Seahawks||QB||Alabama State|
|*Nigel Carr||Ravens||LB||Alabama State|
|Nate Hughes||Lions||WR||Alcorn State|
|Donald Driver||Packers||WR||Alcorn State|
|Emanuel Arceneaux||Vikings||WR||Alcorn State|
|*Delano Johnson||Texans||LB||Bowie State|
|Issac Redmond||Steelers||RB||Bowie State|
|Dominique Curry||Lions||WR||Cheyney University|
|Curtis Holcomb||49ers||DB||Florida A&M|
|Bryan Tyms||49ers||WR||Florida A&M|
|*Kevin Elliot||Jaguars||WR||Florida A&M|
|Dionte Dinkins||Rams||DB||Fort Valley State|
|Ricardo Lockette||Seahawks||WR||Fort Valley State|
|Marquette King||Seahawks||P||Fort Valley State|
|Jason Hatcher||Cowboys||DL||Grambling State|
|Larry Donnell||Giants||TE||Grambling State|
|*Mario Louis||Texans||WR||Grambling State|
|Marcus Benard||Browns||DL||Jackson State|
|D.J. Johnson||Colts||DB||Jackson State|
|Donavan Robinson||Saints||LB||Jackson State|
|Jaymar Johnson||Cardinals||WR||Jackson State|
|Jacoby Jones||Ravens||WR||Lane College|
|Visanthe Shiancoe||Patriots||TE||Morgan State|
|*Jourdan Brooks||Bengals||RB||Morgan State|
|Lamont Bryant||Panthers||WR||Morgan State|
|Don Carey||Lions||DB||Norfolk State|
|Quinton Spears||Browns||LB||Prarie View|
|Adrian Hamilton||Cowboys||LB||Prarie View|
|Greg Toler||Cardinals||DB||St. Pauls|
|Raphael Bush||Broncos||DB||South Carolina State|
|Christian Thompson||Ravens||DB||South Carolina State|
|Donovan Richard||Jaguars||LB||South Carolina State|
|Dominique Ellis||Chiefs||DB||South Carolina State|
|James Lee||Redskins||OL||South Carolina State|
|*Javarris Williams||Cowboys||RB||Tennessee State|
|Anthony Levine||Packers||DB||Tennessee State|
|Cecil Newton, Jr.||Ravens||C||Tennessee State|
|*Donte’e Nicholls||Buccaneers||LB||Tennessee State|
|*Rico Council||Falcons||LB||Tennessee State|
|Dominique Rogers-Cromartie||Cardinals||DB||Tennessee State|
|Lamar Divens||Titans||DL||Tennessee State|
|David Mims||Chiefs||OL||Virginia Union|
|William Hayes||Rams||DL||Winston-Salem State|
|*Nick Cooper||Packers||RB||Winston-Salem State|
Looks like State Farm is pulling its sponsorship of Penn State’s football program. The New York Times reports that a spokeswoman for the company confirmed the insurance giant is severing ties with the university. Compared to the sanctions that the NCAA levied on the football program on Monday and the public relations nightmare that has been the university’s reality since the scandal broke, this isn’t catastrophic news.
State Farm’s signs will be removed from Beaver Stadium and the company will no longer place ads on Penn State radio broadcasts.
My first question is: What in the hell took so long? This scandal broke last November, and State Farm is just now making the decision to no longer support a program contributed to the molestation of dozens of young children?
Also, this decision comes less than a month after the company announced it would no longer serve as the primary sponsor for the annual Bayou Classic game between Grambling State and Southern University.
So you mean State Farm decided to pull the plug on sponsoring a beloved event like the Bayou Classic before dropping Penn State from it’s pay list? Where are your priorities, State Farm?
Eddie Robinson is once again the NCAA Football’s All-Time Wins leader (Division I), but the crown is much heavier than when he last wore it.
The now deceased former head coach of Grambling State University finished his career with 408 wins, which stood at second all-time after Joe Paterno’s won his 409th game at Penn State in 2011. That win as well as 111 others were vacated as the NCAA came down hard with sanctions on the university as a result of the Jerry Sandusky Child Abuse Scandal.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Joe Paterno was preparing to lead his 44th Penn State team on a quest for a Big-Ten title. A year later, Paterno is dead and his legacy is quickly following suit. The NCAA’s ruling comes just days after Paterno’s statue was removed from in front of Beaver Stadium.
Last week, Mayor Edward Jones of Grambling, LA sent a letter to the NCAA requesting that Paterno be stripped of some of his wins. While it’s doubtful that the sanctions had anything to do with that letter, Robinson is now the Division I Wins Leader for the foreseeable future. The closest active Division I coach is Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who at 251 wins has a long way to go before catching Robinson.
Some in the HBCU community have been calling on Paterno’s record to be re-evaluated as well. Robinson, who died in 2007, was by all accounts a model citizen. And his coaching record speaks for itself. Forty-five winning seasons. 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) titles. Nine Black College Football National Championships. Not to mention dozens of NFL stars who came through his program, including Willie Davis, Willie Brown and Doug Williams.
One has to wonder, though, how Robinson would have felt about regaining the title under such circumstances. While I’m sure he would have been adamantly against the atrocities committed under the Penn State banner, I seriously doubt he would have been proactive in trying to regain the title at Paterno’s expense.
That’s debatable, but matters little since both Paterno and Robinson are now gone. What they have both left behind is a legacy. Legacies are always for the living, more so than the dead.
Surely many people will see Robinson’s name and decide that his spot on the list deserves an asterisk. Yeah, he’s number one but that’s only because Paterno got robbed, they’ll say. They’ll point to the fact that after integration, his teams competed against an overall lower level of talent than Paterno’s squads, and that Grambling was not in Division I for a good chunk of his coaching career.
Just know that Eddie Robinson earned his spot on the list. It’s not his fault Paterno knew innocent children were being raped and did nothing to stop it, or even enabled the predator to do so. All Robinson did was take a small black school with meager resources and transformed it into a football powerhouse despite his obstacles. He earned that record while he was alive and it would be despicable to deprive him of it in death. It would be a grave mistake to let the poor choices of one man, tarnish the crown of another.
The 2012 version of Jackson State’s football squad will be playing for more than just another SWAC title. They’ll be playing in the memory of a fallen comrade as teammate Vincent Jones died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Vincent was a wonderful young man,” said JSU head coach Rick Comegy. “He was well liked by everyone in the football program and he will truly be missed.”
The 6’3, 320 pound offensive lineman from Jackson, MS joined the Tigers prior to the 2011 season.
It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the young man’s family, but also for Jackson State. Football players usually room together, take the same classes and of course, practice together during the season. Jones will surely be on his teammate’s minds as they take the field in Starkville, MS to face Mississippi State and throughout the 2012 season.
The team is expected to compete for the SWAC Championship after being ranked second in the Eastern Division during the conference’s annual media day.
With the blistering heatwave that has impacted most of the country, many people may be surprised to look at their calendars and see that August is just a few weeks away. In the college football calendar, this is Conference Media Day season. For the uninitiated, conference media days are when on-field rival players and coaches put down the gloves and meet up in air-conditioned hotel conference rooms to discuss the upcoming season with the media.
The four HBCU conferences are all holding their media days this week. The SWAC held theirs July 17 in Birmingham as did the SIAC in Tucker, GA. The CIAA Media Day will be July 19 in Petersburg, VA and the MEAC’s Luncheon will take place in Norfolk, VA on Friday, July 20.
Having been to a couple of these ventures, it’s definitely an experience. Players are either over-excited to be there or arrive damn-near comatose. There’s usually not much middle ground. That’s because Sports Information Directors (SIDs) and coaches usually get to together and decide who should represent the program, and the guys really don’t have the choice to decline. So as a reporter you either get the guy that gives you dread “yes” or “no” answers and middle-of-the-road, straight-from-the-coach’s-playbook quotes “It is what it is,” or “We’re just gonna practice and play hard.” Boring.
Then there’s the kid who gives gives candid answers that the reporters love and the coaches loath. He’s usually a good kid, just cocky with an over-inflated sense of ego (usually a defensive back or receiver). He’s the guy who coaches give dirty looks as he says, “I definitely think I’m worthy of preseason first-team. In fact, I should’ve made it last year too.” Most SIDs and coaches have a pretty good handle on who these kids are and wisely leave them on campus.
Then there is the rare occasion where they select a talented, cerebral and articulate young man who provides you with insightful answers. This is an athletic department’s dream. Especially at an HBCU. He won’t say anything to embarrass the program, but he doesn’t come off like a robot to the media. This matters. Trust me.
Anyway, in addition to interviewing players and coaches about the upcoming season, media day also provides the usually conservative, but sometimes controversial preseason predictions. Coaches and media weigh in on where they think teams will rank when the dust settles and what players will shine. It’s all a crap shoot, but with the season well over a month away, it gives folks something to talk about. So far, the SIAC predicts Miles will repeat as champs, while the SWAC dubbed Grambling State (Western) and Alabama State (Eastern) Division Winners. Also Grambling running back Dawarence Roberts and Jackson State lineman Joseph LeBeau were named the conferences preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectfully.
What can we expect from the CIAA Media Day today? The Winston-Salem Journal’s John Dell gives us a preview on his Winston-Salem State sports blog, Ram Ramblings. You won’t find a more well-respected reporter in North Carolina, and certainly not the CIAA than Dell. Anyway, he believes the Rams will win the Southern Division despite having a huge target on their back one season after going 13-1 and just missing the Division II championship game. One thing is for sure, the Rams won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season.
View the CIAA Football Media Conference live.