How ugly have the first two games of Savannah State’s 2012 season been? To use a biblical term– abominable! In fact, the best question to ask about the direction of teams like Savannah State comes from The World’s All-Time Best Seller. Not to get into theology, but thinking of SSU’s losses to Oklahoma State and Florida State respectively, I am reminded of the question Jesus asked his disciples: For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul?
Exchange the words “man” for “program” and there you have the Savannah State situation in a nutshell. The last two weeks this historical black university has subjected itself to brutal losses at the hands of major college football programs for $850,000.
These “money games” are nothing new in college football. Teams at the lower end of the Division I spectrum have been handed wads of cash to play teams they have no business competing against for years and in return, high-profile schools get to beat up on them. But the Tigers took it to a whole new level over the past weeks, losing the two games by a combined score of 139-0. And the Florida State game ended early thanks to
divine intervention lightning.
While SSU Athletic Director Donald Sterling has said he plans on playing at least two “money games” per year, head coach coach Steve Davenport sounded as if he wasn’t so sure about that proposition.
“You get paid for certain things, but I don’t know if at the end of the day, some things are worth the payments you get,” Davenport told the Associated Press. “But we’ll see. Those are conversations we’ll have.”
A conversation Savannah State, as well as some other HBCUs should be having is whether or not they belong in Division I. Losses like this may help the bottom line of a struggling athletic department and may be good for a cupcake win but in the long haul, they are neither good for the student-athletes or the HBCU brand in particular.
To say Savannah State is no football powerhouse is an understatement. The football team won less than 20 games total in their first ten years as a Division I-AA Independent football team. Last season, the team was the worst in the MEAC conference, posting a 1-10 record overall. Appalachian State ’06, Savannah State is not.
Simply put, Savannah State had no business out on the field with either OK State or FSU the past two weeks. Surely the coaches knew this and in their heart of hearts, even the players had to know this. I’m sure they practiced hard and talked a good game. But everyone knew what the end result would be. The coaches and administration can spin to the media all they want about “competition” but simply put, they did their program a huge disservice. What self-respecting athlete would want to play for a school that would embarrass itself and them by playing in games they have no hope, or even intention, of winning?
Prior to the FSU game, Davenport was reported to have told his team “We’re going to forget about Oklahoma State, and next week we’re going to forget about Florida State.” This was prior to the FSU game, according to the Savannah Morning News.
This is not to pick on Savannah State exclusively, though. While this may be an extreme case, it is far from a solitary one. Many cash-strapped HBCUs find themselves auctioning off games to the highest bidders in an effort to keep afloat athletic programs that just don’t have the resources to compete on a Division I level.
I witnessed this situation first hand during my time at Winston-Salem State University. WSSU announced its intention to move to Division I during my freshman year and spent the majority of my time there in transition to the MEAC. For a multitude of reasons, the money necessary to complete the move was not there in the end. Even though I was against moving back to Division II at the time, I can concede that I’m happier with them being a competitive DII school than seeing my university become the laughingstock of the college football world.
“I hate to see players put into positions where there is that much of a disparity,” the former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in a telephone interview before Saturday’s game. Referring to Oklahoma State’s 84-point win, he added, “To see that score that we saw last week, I don’t see any positives in that.”
Me either, Lloyd. A wise man once told me, if you can’t pay for the car note and the gas, maybe you don’t need a BMW.
Overall, HBCUs are proud institutions with a spectacular history of doing more with less and making it work. No one game can change that. But in today’s Division I football, the lines between the “haves” and the “have nots” are greater than ever. Schools like Savannah State must fully weigh the cost of remaining in Division I and if they can’t do it without laying down while allowing big-time programs to get their jollies off of them, perhaps they should reassess their aspirations.
St. Augustine’s University came into Saturday’s game against New Haven with revenge on its mind but left just a little short of redemption. Twelfth-ranked New Haven came up with a 24-21 win the soggy turf at Durham County Stadium as St. Aug was unable to produce any points on its final drive.
It was a frustrating end to a frustrating game for the Falcons, who were hoping to avenge last year’s 50-14 loss to the Chargers. After a blanket of rain saturated the stadium shortly before kickoff, the game was delayed for nearly 30 minutes early in the second quarter. At that point, the Falcons led 7-0.
“Despite the weather, despite the delays, our guys came to play tonight,” said St. Aug coach Michael Costa. “They’re no. 12 in the country, we didn’t make them look like no. 12.
Shortly after play resumed, the Chargers (2-0) responded by driving down the field and tying the game after a five yard touchdown pass from Ronnie Nelson to Kameel Lashley. They added to their lead just before halftime when Chris Scifo kicked a 20 yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving his team a 10-7.
Costa admitted his team’s performance after the delay was not as sharp as he would have liked.
“They had a little more intensity. We were a little flat,” he said. “We talked about that just before we came out, but we got it back together and we got back in the game.”
New Haven picked up where it left off as the second half started, quickly scoring on a 23 yard toss from Nelson to Jason Thompson to take a 17-10 lead with 8:09 remaining in the third quarter.
St. Aug (1-1) responded with a touchdown drive of its own, going 75 yards in 12 plays before being capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by freshman Roderick Davenport, cutting the margin to 17-14.
Just when it appeared that St. Aug had finally taken momentum from New Haven, disaster struck. St. Aug fumbled a lateral deep in its own territory and New Haven quickly took advantage, scoring on a five yard run less than a minute later and taking a 24-14 lead with 9:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Chargers looked to have a firm grasp on the game at that point, but it quickly unraveled when Nelson’s pass was intercepted by the Falcon’s Dante Devouse with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t make mistakes and lose focus,” Costa said. “We have to keep grinding.”
Six plays later, St. Aug’s Teddy Bacote found Brian Richards in the endzone for the second time on the day, this one a 13-yard strike through the heart of the New Haven defense and cutting the lead to 24-21 with 3:53 remaining.
The Falcons managed to stop the Charger offense on the next drive, but were pinned back at their own 10 after the punt with less than two minutes remaining and no timeouts. The Falcons managed to make a few first downs, but a failed fourth down conversion sealed the victory for New Haven.
Bacote finished 27 of 40 passing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Richards caught 14 of those passes for 124 yards. Bacote noted that despite his team’s failure to avenge last year’s defeat at the hands of New Haven, he and his team left it all on the field.
“This shows we’re gonna battle and fight for what we want,” he said. “I’m proud of my team’s effort tonight.”
For Costa, the near-miss was a revelation on how his team has matured since last season.
“We’re doing things a lot different, we’re doing things a lot better and the kids believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve learned from last year. That shows we’re growing and maturing because we’ve learned from our mistakes.”
Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State
Out of all the marquee games in the conference this week, this battle in Orangeburg may have the most impact come the end of the season. SC State and BCU were predicted to finish second and third in the conference respectively and both are coming off impressive non-conference wins.
SC State dominated Georgia State last week, picking up a 33-3 win in the Georgia Dome. Redshirt junior quarterback Richard Cue threw for three touchdowns and a career-high 300 yards. BCU trailed Alabama State 21-0 in the first half before reeling off 38 unanswered points to take home the MEAC/SWAC Challenge crown.
As spectacular as last week’s win was, BCU cannot get down three touchdowns in Orangeburg and expect to win the game. SC State’s defense stifled GA State and will look to do the same against BCU.
Bottom Line: Whoever wins this game will have a huge leg up come playoff time.
Old Dominion at Hampton
Hampton returns to the confines of Armstrong Stadium to find itself jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer as it hosts local rival Old Dominion. Looking to rebound from last week’s 41-31 loss at Tennessee Tech, Hampton finds itself up against one of the FCS Division’s top teams from its backyard in ODU. The Monarchs are currently ranked fifth in the country and have supplanted the Pirates as the Tidewater’s premiere team in the division by defeating them both times the two teams have met.
Last week ODU defeated Duquesne 57-23 in it’s home opener as quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns. Not good for a Hampton team that allowed Tennessee Tech to throw for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Heinicke did, however throw three interceptions, so there may be some opportunities to take advantage of there.
Hampton’s offense will also be under the microscope to produce better numbers all around. They gained only 89 yards rushing against Tennessee Tech, averaging a scant three yards per game. The offense played better in the second half, but was still out-gained nearly 3 to 1 last week.
Bottom Line: If the Pirates hope to have any chance at an upset, the running game must be more productive and keep the ODU offense and their own defense off the field for the majority of the game.
Norfolk State at Liberty
No offense to Virginia State, but the Spartans season starts here. NSU was simply dominant defensively against VSU, recording seven sacks, 17 tackles for loss and four takeaways. Linebacker Jamal Giddens was named the NCAA’s FCS Defensive Player of The Week despite not playing in the game’s second half.
They will face a much tougher opponent this week as they travel to Lynchburg to take on Liberty. The Flames came very close to upsetting the ACC’s Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last week, eventually losing 20-17. They out gained the Demon Deacons by 70 yards Simply put– the Spartan defense will be in for a test.
Offensively, the Spartans will need more out of quarterback Nico Flores if they want to pick up the win on the road. Flores was 13 for 24 passing for just 93 yards against VSU, also throwing two interceptions. The running game was solid with 223 yards, but 64 of those yards came on one run by Brendon Riddick.
Bottom Line: Flores and the offense will have to do better if Norfolk State wants to defeat Liberty and stay ranked in the FCS Top 25.
Delaware State vs. Delaware
Delaware State definitely turned some heads last week when it defeated Virginia Military Institute 17-10 last week. This week the Hornets take on their in-state rival, Delaware. Delaware has won all three meetings between the state’s only Division I schools. The have outscored DSU 116-14 in those matchups. The Hens are ranked 15th in the FCS and are coming off a 41-21 win over West Chester.
North Carolina Central at Elon
North Carolina Central comes into this game high off of last week’s 54-31 win over Fayetteville State, their first at home since 2010. Conversely, Elon must have had a long ride down I-40 last week after the 62-0 beating they took at the hands of North Carolina.
Eagles showed some flashes on offense last week as new starting quarterback Matt Goggans continued to build a repoir with his teammates. The transfer completed 15 of 26 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown in his NCCU debut. The Eagles ground game was solid, gaining 197 yards as a collective unit.
Two areas of concern for NCCU: Tackling and special teams. Several FSU drives were prolonged by missed tackles last week and the special teams unit had both punts and kicks blocked.
Bottom line: Fundamental tackling and crisp special team play will be needed to ensure NCCU gets off to a 2-0 start.
Savannah State at Florida State
This one makes the notable list for all the wrong reasons. One week after an embarrassing 84-0 loss, Savannah State is listed as a 70 1/2 underdog to Florida State. On the bright side, at least the ride to Tallahassee to pick up the check is closer than the flight out to Oklahoma last week.
Bottom line: SSU can’t lose any worse than last week. Can it?
Howard At Rutgers
West Va. State at NC A&T
FAMU at Oklahoma
Morgan State’s hopes for climbing back to the top of the MEAC’s basketball elite have already taken a hit, and it’s only September. CBSSports.com reports that Daryl Traynham, a former UMASS starter who transferred to the school, will be ineligible for the 2012-13 season. According to the report, Morgan coach Todd Bozeman revealed Traynham failed to obtain his Associates of Arts Degree from junior college this past summer.
The 5’9 point guard played last season at Palm Beach State where he averaged 11 points, six assists and three steals per game.
Morgan State has gone 26-34 in the past two seasons after claiming three-straight MEAC titles from 2008-2010. The Bears finished 9-20 last year.
“He’s was what the doctor ordered for us,” Bozeman told CBS Sports earlier Thursday. “We’ll have to adjust a little bit how we want to play.”
Changes are afoot at Elizabeth City State. The Elizabeth City Daily Advance reported Wednesday night that Thurlis Little had been relieved of his duties as athletic director. Shortly before nightfall ECSU released a statement announcing Dr. Angelina Nelson as interim athletic director. While the press release made no mention of Little, he told the Daily Advance that he did not leave on his own accord.
“It was an ‘at-will’ position. That means that you serve at the will of someone else. So that was what was done at this particular time,” he said. ““Quite naturally, it was not my decision.”
Little has been a part of ECSU culture for nearly 40 years as an athlete, administrator and coach before taking the reigns of the athletic department in 2007. The article reports that he will remain on the university’s staff as a teacher.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with the university, not only as an undergrad student-athlete, but coming back in later years to teach and coach,” he told the Daily Advance. “I’ve had a terrific time. All I have to say through all of this is that I have nothing but good things to say about the university.”
Dr. Nelson earned her B.S. degree in Health and Physical Education from ECSU. She went on to obtain her Masters of Education in Sports Management from Florida A&M University and earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University in Sports Administration. She was also head basketball coach and administrator at Tuskegee University.
Former Bowie State linebacker Delano Johnson is still living his NFL dream. Johnson, who signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent after the 2012 NFL draft, was released on Friday. However, after clearing waivers, the team decided to bring him back for the practice squad.
The Baltimore native recorded 219 tackles during his time at the CIAA school. He also blocked 11 kicks in his career, including seven in 2010.
More than the numbers, though, Johnson has an inspiring back story. Johnson chose to attend Bowie State because it offered him the chance to play both basketball and football. After losing his mother on Christmas Eve during his freshman year, he decided to focus on football and he hasn’t looked back since.
“This is really a dream come true to play in the NFL,” Johnson told Yahoo Sports. “Although basketball was my first love, football has stolen my heart and I love the game. I’m excited, nervous and ready to go all at once.”
CIAA FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Monday, September 3, 2012
Name: Nick Watts Position: OL School: Chowan
Height: 6’3 Weight: – Class: SR Hometown: Church Road, VA
Comments: Watts logged 650 total yards of offense in the win; including 365 yards rushing and 285 yards passing.
RECEIVER (Wideouts/Tight Ends)
Name: Robert Holland Position: WR School: Chowan
Height: 6’2 Weight: 185 Class: SR Hometown: Newport News, VA
Comments: Holland scored three touchdowns in the win, and collected 213 receiving yards in the victory. After scoring 49 points in the first half, Chowan set the new school record for first half points, and set a new school record for points in a game with 70.
Name: Cameron Stover Position: QB School: Chowan
Height: 6’3 Weight: 180 Class: JR Hometown: Flint, MI
Comments: Cameron Stover led the Hawks to a 70-35 win over the Livingstone College Blue Bears. Stover completed 23-30 passes for an average of 281 throwing yards in the game, ran for a touchdown, and tallied 106 rushing yards. Stover alone tallied 387 total yards of offense, and led the Hawks to 650 total yards of offense in the win. After scoring 49 points in the first half, Chowan set the new school record for first half points, and set a new school record for points in a game with 70.
OFFENSIVE BACK (Running back/Halfback/Fullback/Tailback)
Name: Maurice Lewis Position: RB School: Winston-Salem State
Height: 5’11 Weight: 190 Class: SO Hometown: Lumberton, NC
Comments: Led the Rams rushing attack with 134 yards and two TD’s versus UNC Pembroke.
Name: Rasheen Person Position: DL School: Virginia Union
Height: 6’4 Weight: 241 Class: JR Hometown: Newport News, VA
Comments: Person led Virginia Union with ten tackles (5 solo) and two sacks for a loss of seven yards as VUU downed Benedict College 28-7 in Historic Hovey Field. Person also had four tackles for a loss of 20 yards.
Name: Chaz Robinson Position: LB School: Saint Augustine’s
Height: 5’11 Weight: 220 Class: JR Hometown: Hampton, VA
Comments: The preseason All-CIAA pick led a stingy defense with fourteen (14) total tackles in a satisfying 28-10 victory over Wingate.
Name: Andre Kates Position: DB School: Virginia Union
Height: 5’11 Weight: 200 Class: SR Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Comments: Kates had a career day in VUU’s 28-7 win over Benedict College in Richmond, Va. The senior defensive back had four pass breakups, five tackles, two fumble recoveries, returned an interception 23 yards and also recorded a safety. Kates also recorded a sack for a loss of eight yards and forced another fumble.
Name: Drew Powell Position: QB School: Livingstone
Height: 6’3 Weight: 235 Class: FR Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
Comments: Threw for a total of 343 yards with four touchdowns (most Livingstone had in single game since 2009.).
Name: Mario Diaz-Aviles Position: PK School: Bowie State
Height: 5’9 Weight: 240 Class: SO Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Comments: Diaz-Aviles drilled a key 37 yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the contest to give Bowie State its first lead of the game against Assumption and was a perfect 3-of-3 on PAT’s.
Name: Michael Costa School: Saint Augustine’s
Comments: Coach Costa directed St. Aug to victory in its first game as a university, defeating Wingate 28-10 in the highly regarded South Atlantic Conference. Wingate is predicted to finish third in its conference. The Falcons are the first CIAA team to defeat Wingate. The victory was a good way to start off a challenging schedule for the Falcons, who showed early signs that they are a serious CIAA contender.
NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State senior linebacker Jamal Giddens was selected as the Division I FCS Defensive Player of the Week by NCAA.com and the FCS National Linebacker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
Despite playing just over two quarters before leaving the game due to dehydration, Giddens wreaked havoc for the Spartan defense. He tallied seven tackles, six of them solo, with a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss. He also registered two sacks and two forced fumbles. NSU recovered both fumbles, one in the end zone for the team’s first touchdown during the 24-0 victory over Virginia State.
Giddens’ effort helped lead a defense which recorded its first shutout since 2001, a span of 116 games. NSU limited Virginia State to 107 total yards of offense, including a scant 10 rushing yards on 36 attempts.
Giddens was also listed as an other top performer on the MEAC’s list of weekly standouts.
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.
North Carolina Central’s 54-31 win over Fayetteville State wasn’t as clean as he would have liked, but NCCU coach Henry Frazier was pleased with the final result.
“D1/D2, teams switch divisions all the time, but it doesn’t matter,” said Frazier of NCCU’s former CIAA rival. “I’m just glad to get the win.”
Early on, both teams struggled to find their rhythm on offense and special teams. In fact, each team scored its initial touchdowns off of their opponents special teams miscues. FSU struck first when Chris Person recovered a block punt and stumbled into the end zone with just under 9 minutes in the first quarter. Frazier said he wasn’t surprised at the block kick.
“It happened twice in practice this week,” he said. “I keep telling the guys, what happens in practice also happens in a real game.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, the Broncos repaid them by touching a live ball after a punt, which found it’s way into Geovonie Irvin’s hands and into the endzone, tying the game with just over five minutes remaining. The Broncos would take a 10-7 lead on a Antonio Mayo field goal early in the second quarter, however, that would be their last lead of the game.
NCCU’s offense settled down in the second quarter, outscoring FSU 14-7 to take a 20-17 lead at half. It was all NCCU from their as the passing game came alive thanks to several hookups from quarterback Matt Goggans to Irvine. Irvine caught 6 passes for 79 yards, including a 20 yard touchdown strike from the back of the endzone.
FSU continued to fight in the fourth quarter, but the size and depth of NCCU proved to be too much for them overcome. FSU coach Kenny Phillips pointed out that the team also shot its chances of winning the game by turning the ball over three times.
“Bottom line, Phillips said, “we turned the ball over too many times against a team that is better than it was last year.”
One of those turnovers was a quarter interception that was returned 69 yards by NCCU’s Allonte Tuppins, which gave FSU a ten point lead which it never relinquished. Despite the final score, Phillips said he was pleased with his team’s effort as a whole.
“We fought for four quarters,” he said. “We got winded on defense, but that was due to not being able to move the ball on offense.”
NCCU controlled the line of scrimmage, holding FSU to just 60 yards on 34 attempts while rushing for 197 yards on their own 34 attempts. Arthur Goforth led NCCU with 85 yards rushing, adding one touchdown. Andre Clark scored on two of his eight rushing attempts, finishing with 47 yards.
In his first start since transferring to NCCU in the spring, Goggans completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards and one touchdowns. His numbers would have been even better if not for several drops by his receivers. After the game, Goggans admitted to having pre-game jitters early on.
“There were some nerves, but we started to get a good rhythm,” he said. “It started slowing down and it felt like football.”
Frazier had nothing but praise for his new starting quarterback.
“Matt made a lot of good plays. He recognized what the defense was doing and was making some audibles at the line,” he said. “He has what the players call “swag.”
NCCU will face Elon on the road next week.